Carbon policies ignite fires under federal agency seats

A hastily conducted first quarter survey spawning the General Services Administration’s Low Embodied Carbon Concrete Standards, noted here in May, set the table for comparably quick, parallel action by the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency (note Federal Buy Clean Initiative, page 13), plus the Department of Energy (DOE). The latter’s new “Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap” identifies pathways—Energy Efficiency; Industrial Electrification; Low Carbon Fuels; Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage—to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Cement, Iron & Steel, Chemicals, Food & Beverage, Refining. The five sectors account for just over half of the energy-related CO2 emissions from U.S. industry and 15 percent of such emissions economy wide. 

Portland Cement Association, Steel Manufacturers Association, American Iron & Steel Institute officials joined other industry or government agency representatives last month at DOE headquarters for a Roadmap unveiling, roundtable, plus announcement of a $104 million decarbonization technology funding opportunity. Roadmap authors acknowledge the fixed CO2 aspects in cement calcination and clinkering phases, but cite among prospective decarbonization measures for the industry and concrete or construction interests:

  • Increased use of low carbon binders and natural supplementary cementitious materials to cut the carbon-intensity of concrete;
  • Evolved processes to reduce waste, including circular economy approaches, for concrete construction;
  • Improved materials and cement plant energy efficiency with deployment of breakthrough technologies and innovative chemistry solutions; and,
  • Expanded use of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies.

Such measures are closely tied to principal Roadmap recommendations: Advance early-stage research, development & deployment; invest in multiple process strategies, continuing parallel pathways of electrification, efficiency, low carbon fuels and CCUS; scale technologies through demonstrations (note “Lehigh DOE Funding” this month, page 21); address process heating; and, focus on systems impact of carbon reduction technologies on the supply chain.


The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy tracks carbon dioxide emissions in the “Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap,” citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Construction, Mining and Agriculture are grouped under the Non-Manufacturing businesses (lower right) responsible for 17 percent of the overall Industrial category CO2 emissions.

“The Roadmap and funding opportunity couldn’t come at a better time, building on the historic funding in the Inflation Reduction Act and ensuring the clean energy economy is made in America,” said White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, tag teaming with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the Department roundtable. “Building a cleaner, more prosperous future requires harnessing American innovation and ingenuity.”

Cement and concrete interests are demonstrating their capacity for innovation and ingenuity in responding to calls to action in the DOE Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap and its one-year old cousin, the PCA Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality.