Climate Change: States, Cities, and Businesses in the United States Are Stepping Up

Posted on 12/15/2017 10:32:26 AM By Paul Bertram

In June of 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Paris climate accord, a UN agreement signed by 195 countries at the COP21 climate conference in Paris in December, 2015. 

As of today, the US "will cease all implementation" of the accord, Trump said, adding that he will consider rejoining the deal if it is renegotiated to be more beneficial to the US economy.

I was part of the US delegation as an observer and presenter at the Paris COP 21, in December of 2015, and spoke to the benefits of high performance low energy buildings that contributed to reducing source carbon emissions.

Regardless of the climate change debate, the benefits of energy efficient buildings are a high priority consideration by owners.

ASC members in the building construction sector contribute to building energy efficiency with your sealants and adhesives. These materials are essential in joining up individual components to the system and providing optimized air and moisture performance.

What ASDC members should know about COP 23 that has potential benefits to business


Across America, states, cities, businesses, universities, and citizens have taken action to fight climate change, grow the economy, and protect public health. America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the United States remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

As this Phase 1 Report demonstrates: 
Climate action is robust and accelerating across an increasing swath of America. States, cities, and businesses constituting more than half of the U.S. economy have mobilized behind the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement.

An even larger subset of American states, cities, and businesses are taking concrete actions that reduce GHG emissions. They are embracing zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), building efficiency upgrades, renewable energy generation, and a host of other low-carbon technologies.

As of October 1, 2017, a total of 20 U.S. states and 110 U.S. cities have enacted quantified GHG reduction targets. Some of these targets (such as those of larger states like California and New York) are as ambitious as the most ambitious NDCs submitted by parties to the Paris Agreement. In addition, more than 1,300 businesses with U.S. operations, representing $25 trillion in market capitalization and accounting for 0.9 gigatons (Gt) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of GHG emissions per year have voluntarily adopted GHG targets. Many other states, cities, and businesses have enacted other policies and actions to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon mobility, and other climate actions 

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We Are Still In established the U.S. Climate Action Center, a pavilion and forum where

dozens of American leaders convened throughout the COP 23 negotiations that were held in November 6-17 in Bonn, Germany. Representatives from US corporations, Universities, State and City Governments, and the usual advocacy groups supporting climate change actions participated.

It is worth opening the above link to see the depth of support the US delegation represented.

How does this translate to opportunity for ASC members in the Building Sector?

Building codes drive air and moisture functional performance compliance requirements but some of these states supporting carbon reduction are encouraging going beyond code. An example is NYSERDA’s (The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) Retrofit New York program that is advocating beyond code “Passive House” air and moisture performance.

The California Assembly Bill 262, the Buy Clean Act

Another interesting action that was reported by the State of California,at the COP23, was the recently passed Assembly Bill 262, the Buy Clean Act requiring purchase of low-carbon construction products. Contractors will have to source products based on greenhouse gas impact, not price, on state projects.

Buy Clean:

  • Requires contractors bidding on state infrastructure and construction projects to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions for certain materials, such as concrete and steel, used in those projects;
  • Instructs the Department of General Services to develop a method for agencies to include this emissions data in their review processes for bid selection; and
  • Tells state agencies to apply that method in their bid review.

How will contractors disclose the emissions data?

AB 262 requires contractors to gather emissions data from their suppliers during the bid process, and then disclose this data in their project bids. The emissions data is compiled using existing methods and standards to produce an Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD .

Summary remarks

Regardless of the US position to withdraw commitments on carbon reduction made at the Paris COP 21 meetings in 2015, support for US climate change goals, US interests were well represented at COP23.

ASC interests are directly tied to high performance low energy buildings that contribute to source carbon reduction through reduced energy intensity. This is in addition to the obvious benefits of energy cost savings and Non-energy related benefits energy efficiency. See the recent document from ACEEE - Using Intelligent Efficiency to Collect and Analyze Non-energy Benefits Information -

Understanding what States, Cities and advocacy groups are supporting this movement might be worthy of consideration in marketing efforts.

Corporations will have to make business decisions regarding how they report carbon impacts in the production of their products and related supply chains in relationship to actions such as California has implemented.

NOTE: The views, opinions, data, drawings, graphs, and images that appear in this blog do not necessarily constitute the opinion of ASC.