UN office facilitates global cement, concrete, steel PCR harmonization

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Sources: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Alexandria, Va.; United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna; CMCM staff

Officials of global or national cement, concrete and steel groups recently convened in Vienna for a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) workshop aimed at developing a harmonized guideline for Product Category Rules. PCR published according to widely recognized standards underpin Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), the principal tools public and private construction stakeholders use when assessing carbon dioxide emissions associated with load-bearing materials’ production, processing and delivery. 

Workshop participants discussed the best path to harmonized Product Category Rules, key to informing public agency procurement decisions on cement, concrete and steel.

North American interests represented at the workshop included Building Transparency, programmer of the EPD-powered Embodied Carbon Calculator (EC3); Carbon Leadership Forum, hosted at the University of Washington College of the Built Environment; and, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, an EPD Program Operator and North American PCR for Concrete contributor. The event was part of the Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDO), through which officials from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and six other countries have three focus areas:

• Data and reporting. Establish a global system for collecting and reporting low- and near-zero emission cement, concrete and steel metrics;

• Aligning global standards. Secure a coherent framework that establishes what constitutes low- and near-zero emission cement, concrete and steel; and, 

• Using the power of public procurement. Set effective green public procurement targets to reduce embodied emissions in the cement, concrete and steel sectors.

Workshop participants will continue their work in virtual meetings to support attainment of targets outlined in the IDDO Green Public Procurement Pledge, whereby government agencies commit to successive actions: 

Level  1. By 2025, require disclosure of the embodied carbon in cement, concrete and steel procured for public construction projects;  

Level 2. By 2030 and 2050, respectively, conduct whole project life cycle assessments and achieve net zero emissions in all public construction projects; 

Level 3. By 2030, require procurement of low emission cement, concrete and steel in public construction projects, applying the highest ambition possible under national circumstances; and, 

Level 4. By 2030, require procurement of a share of cement and/or crude steel from near zero emission material production for signature projects. 

Workshop host UNIDO is a United Nations agency tasked with promoting, dynamizing and accelerating industrial development. Its mandate is especially reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovati