Construction And Manufacturing



Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions. As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history. Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.

Manufacturing goods

Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes also release gases, as does the construction industry. Machines used in the manufacturing process often run on coal, oil, or gas; and some materials, like plastics, are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. The manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

How much of climate change is caused by manufacturing?

Manufacturing – especially of the cheap construction staples steel and cement – accounts for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. That makes manufacturing more polluting than the power or transportation sectors, which receive far more attention in policies and investments.

How do manufacturing and construction affect the environment?

Factories negatively impact the environment through air pollutant emissions, toxic waste disposal and water contamination. Besides, they're also the major offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas contributions. Factories alone are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the emissions to blame for global climate change.

How about the building sector? 

Materials such as steel, concrete and cement, used in the construction of buildings, already account for about 9% of overall energy-related CO2 emissions


Total Emissions in 2021 = 6,340 Million Metric Tons of CO₂ equivalent. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to independent rounding. Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry in the United States is a net sink and offsets 12% of these greenhouse gas emissions. This net sink is not shown in the above diagram. All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2021.


The Global Cement Challenge

By Emma Rutkowski, Hannah Pitt and Kate Larsen 03/21/24
Cement is a cornerstone of infrastructure the world over, utilized in everything from bridges to buildings to roads. The process by which modern cement is manufactured is also emissions-intensive, responsible for 6% of global greenhouse…
Read more

The obscure but extremely important battle over building codes

By David Roberts 03/06/24
In this episode, Huffington Post reporter Alexander Kaufman traces the recent history of US building codes, a surprisingly compelling and twisty tale of efforts at reform meeting stiff resistance from builders and natural gas companies.
Read more

The Industry ‘Scandal’ That Might Completely Upend How America Builds Houses

By Alexander C. Kaufman 02/05/24
Fossil fuel companies are trying to strip a series of climate-friendly measures out of the latest round of model building codes used to regulate construction virtually everywhere in the United States.
Read more

A Sublime Solution to Climate’s Hardest Problem

By Emily Pontecorvo 01/11/24
Over the past several months, in the sleepy city of Holyoke, Massachusetts, bulldozers have been tearing down a former paper mill. The newly leveled ground on the western banks of the Connecticut River is on…
Read more

Fixing Concrete & Steel Carbon Emissions Is Doable

By Michael Barnard 10/28/23
Concrete and steel are the two biggest industrial products that aren’t fossil fuels, and have a massive climate footprint. They are used together in reinforced concrete, the structural solution that enables modern bridges and buildings…
Read more

Iron & Steel Are Solved Climate Problems

By Michael Barnard 08/30/23
Steel CO2 emissions are about 7% of all global emissions, and steel sucks back about 8% of primary energy globally. It’s a big climate change problem and a big energy consumer. It’s been on my…
Read more

Steel production is getting cleaner

By David Gelles 08/24/23
Steel is the backbone of the modern economy, essential for building skyscrapers, wind turbines, planes, trains and automobiles. It’s also incredibly dirty, responsible for about 7 percent of global carbon emissions.
Read more

Steel industry makes ‘pivotal’ shift towards lower-carbon production

By Molly Lempriere 07/20/23
The steel industry has made a ‘pivotal’ shift towards lower-carbon forms of production, a new report says, but remains short of a 1.5C-compatible pathway. The new report from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) shows that 43%…
Read more

Cement warms the planet. This green version just got a key nod of approval

By Dino Grandoni 07/13/23
Companies are finding more environmentally friendly ways to make cement, which accounts for about a twelfth of global carbon dioxide emissions, making it worse for the climate than flying.
Read more

Pilot project uses volcanic ash to make cement

By YCC Team 07/12/23
Heavy volcanic ash blanketed much of the island, covering streets, yards, and farm fields. And it caused structural damage to thousands of homes.
Read more

How $90 million could help U.S. buildings withstand climate disasters

By Maxine Joselow 07/12/23
When Hurricane Ida battered Louisiana, strong winds ripped the roofs off tens of thousands of homes. But today, the Biden administration is hoping a simple fix could save homes in that state — and others…
Read more

Sweden is building the world’s largest wooden city

By Ayurella Horn-Muller 07/10/23
Swedish developers are getting ready to build the world’s largest wooden city, setting the stage for a possible domino effect of similar projects across the globe. Why it matters: The use of timber in urban…
Read more


Why The Building Sector?

Architecture 2030’s mission is to rapidly transform the built environment from the major emitter of greenhouse gases to a central solution to the climate crisis. For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the leadership and designed…

The Net-Zero Industry Tracker

Steel is a fundamental material of modern society; it is used extensively in many sectors, including construction (50%), automobiles, shipping, aviation, machinery and countless metallic consumer goods –there are no scalable substitutes for steel as…


Efforts to mass-produce green steel are finally nearing reality

By Michael Le Page   07/05/23  
Iron and steel production are two of the most carbon-heavy industries, but efforts to make these materials without fossil fuels are finally gathering momentum. A company in Sweden called H2 Green Steel says it will…
Read more

Cement emits as much CO2 as India. Why is it so hard to fix?

By Shannon Osaka   06/27/23  
Let’s do a quiz: After water, what is the most-used material in the world? Is it steel? Wood? Aluminum? Plastic? The answer, it turns out, is concrete. Concrete, a blend of water, sand, gravel and…
Read more

The Hidden Climate Impact of Residential Construction

By Chris Magwood, Tracy Huynh and Victor Olgyay   03/28/23  
New home construction in the US creates over 50 million tons of embodied carbon emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions from 138 natural gas–fired power plants or the yearly emissions from entire countries such as…
Read more

Cement industry accounts for about 8% of CO2 emissions. One startup seeks to change that.

By Ben Tracy and Analisa Novak   01/16/23  
Cement is the most widely-used substance on Earth after water. When mixed with water, it forms concrete that becomes the backbone of buildings, roads, dams and bridges.
Read more

The Impact of Climate Change on the Construction Industry in 2022

Surety Bond Professionals is a family owned and operated bonding agency with over 30 years of experience. With access to a broad range of surety markets, our expert agents are ready to assist with all…
Read more

The Chemical Industry’s Role in Climate Change

By Jamie McConnell   12/01/22  
Did you know that the chemical industry – an industry that produces many of the ingredients found in products we use every day – is one of the largest contributors to climate change? In fact,…
Read more

CO2 emissions from buildings and construction hit new high, leaving sector off track to decarbonize by 2050: UN

Despite an increase in energy efficiency investment and lower energy intensity, the building and construction sector’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions have rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic to an all-time high, a new report finds.…
Read more

The construction industry remains horribly climate-unfriendly

Covid-induced lockdowns may have upended the world of work, but they have not killed the skyscraper. Even as workers stay home to avoid the commute, cities’ penchant for these concrete marvels of engineering continues unabated.…
Read more

A changing climate is buckling concrete and flooding roads. States are moving slowly to guard the nation’s infrastructure.

By Ian Duncan   11/28/21  
Road flooding has become more common in the 45 years that Kathy Lock has owned a home in this beach community on the Delaware Bay. A marsh rises five or six times a year to…
Read more

Bendable concrete, other CO2-infused cement mixes could dramatically cut global emissions

By Lucca Henrion, Duo Zhang and Others   02/28/21  
One of the big contributors to climate change is right beneath your feet, and transforming it could be a powerful solution for keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. The production of cement, the binding…
Read more

The concrete conundrum

Concrete is the single most widely used material in the world – and it has a carbon footprint to match. James Mitchell Crow looks at some of the approaches being used to ease the material’s…
Read more