News Brief

Zero-Carbon Construction Equipment?

Four cities have committed to halving construction emissions by 2030, focusing on embodied carbon and zero-carbon equipment.

Is the world ready for electric backhoes? Mayors of four cities say they soon will be—and that they will go even further by halving the embodied carbon emissions of building and infrastructure projects not long after.

C40, a coalition of 97 megacities around the world, has rolled out a Clean Construction Declaration with four initial signatories: Budapest, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Oslo. By signing, the mayors of the four cities have committed to:

  • reducing embodied greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% for all new municipal buildings and retrofits, and for all municipal infrastructure projects, by 2030
  • procuring, and when possible using, only zero-emission construction machinery by 2025

Cutting embodied carbon in half will be no easy feat, but the declaration focuses on existing buildings in particular, emphasizing that existing buildings will take first place before new construction is even considered.

Although not yet widely used, fully electric construction equipment is available, and the mayors have pledged to leverage their buying power to increase production.

Other aspects of the declaration include:

  •  requiring life-cycle assessments for municipal projects
  •  requiring diversion of construction and demolition waste
  •  requiring life-cycle assessments in building codes for non-municipal projects
  •  focusing on environmental equity
  •  creating a circular economy roadmap that’s included in the city’s climate action plan
  •  assessing projects for resilience
  •  publicly reporting on progress

More on sustainable construction practices

The Urgency of Embodied Carbon and What You Can Do about It

Contractors Pledge Greener Construction in New Commitment

For more information


Published January 11, 2021

Melton, P. (2020, December 17). Zero-Carbon Construction Equipment? . Retrieved from

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