According to data from the World Green Building Council, building and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world.
Of the 39%, operational emissions account for 28% and the remaining 11% comes from embodied carbon emissions, or “upfront” carbon that is associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole building lifecycle.
As the fight against climate change continues and efforts are made to reduce emissions across the industry, it’s important for crews to implement green building practices and be mindful of the equipment and energy sources being used on project sites.
Fortunately, using propane is a helpful way for construction crews to reduce emissions while meeting all their energy needs on the jobsite. Whether powering jobsite basics like lighting and heating, portable generators, concrete construction equipment, material handling equipment or crew transportation, propane can reduce emissions compared with other options like electric, diesel and gasoline.
A Clean, Low-Emissions Energy Solution
Access to clean, affordable energy — like propane — helps ensure equity on the path to zero emissions. Fortunately, propane is abundant, environmentally friendly and can help reduce emissions now. In fact, using propane produces 43% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the United States electrical grid.
Additionally, propane-powered small-engine jobsite applications can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 17% and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by up to 16% compared with gasoline-fueled models, according to data from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). Propane equipment also emits fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than equipment fueled by electricity, gasoline and diesel.
And when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) emissions — a significant issue on jobsites across the country — propane can offer a clean, safe alternative to gasoline- and diesel-powered small-engine jobsite applications that are often the culprit for employees getting sick. Most notably, propane-powered applications can reduce CO emissions by up to 50% compared with gasoline models, according to data from PERC. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 workers die every year from unintentional CO poisoning and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that one of the most common sources of CO exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.
Supporting Healthier Air Quality
Propane is deemed a clean alternative fuel by the Clean Air Act of 1990, and because of its low-emissions profile, propane equipment can safely operate indoors in properly ventilated areas. Additionally, well-maintained propane engines meet or exceed nationwide indoor air quality standards, unlike gasoline and diesel equipment, so crews won’t have to juggle multiple energy sources to complete jobs that require equipment use both indoors and outdoors.
Propane’s reduced operational emissions helps support healthier air quality for employees and the community too, which is especially beneficial for projects located in areas that require reduced emissions or near sensitive populations such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
The Rise of Renewable Propane
Propane is already a clean, low-emissions energy solution for a wide variety of equipment and applications, but the good news is it’s only getting cleaner. More and more propane will be made from renewable sources in the future.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the potential demand for renewable propane in California alone could surpass 200 million gallons a year by 2030.
So, what is renewable propane? It’s an emerging energy source that’s a co-product of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel production, which converts plant and vegetable oils, waste greases and animal fat into energy. Produced from renewable, raw materials, renewable propane is even
cleaner than conventional propane — and far cleaner than other energy sources.
And because its chemical structure and physical properties are the same as traditional propane, renewable propane can be used for all the same applications.