Tracey Bernett


One of my favorite memories of the 2021 legislative session was when I was on
the House floor urging my colleagues to vote for HB21-1303… at 10 pm on a Saturday
night just a few weeks away from the close of session. There I was, talking about
concrete in the middle of the night, thinking to myself, “who the heck cares about
concrete?” Well, let me tell you why you should care. The processes used to
manufacture concrete and steel emit 14% of total greenhouse gasses (GHG’s) worldwide.
And if cement, which is the “glue” in concrete, was a country, it’d be the third largest
GHG emitter in the world. While we cannot eliminate the use of these vital building
materials, we can encourage the use of environmentally friendly practices during their
When Colorado builds infrastructure like roads and buildings, the state
purchases large volumes of key materials like concrete, cement, steel, asphalt, glass, and
wood. While there is no easy solution to the environmental problem created by the
manufacturing of construction materials, HB21-1303 uses one of the legislature’s most
powerful tools – the budget – to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many
manufacturers recognize their impact on the climate and are working hard to reduce
their emissions. However, this bill encourages not only manufacturers of these products
to reduce their GHG emissions, but more importantly, it requires architects and
contractors to specify greener construction materials where practical and economical.
Market demand for more environmentally friendly products is increasing. Leveraging
Colorado’s purchasing power to prefer clean products from low-emitting manufacturers
will encourage manufacturers and builders to do their part. Colorado is already home to
some of the greenest cement and steel manufacturers in the nation, so this is great news
for local producers.
By selecting materials that are manufactured with lower Global Warming
Potential (GWP), state agencies will reduce the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions,
helping meet Colorado’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. It encourages manufacturers
of these materials to improve their processes to lower their GWP to qualify as a supplier
on Colorado state projects. This encourages use of lower GWP materials produced using
recycled materials, renewable energy, or different manufacturing processes like carbon
sequestration, which reduces GHG emissions. Steps like these can help reduce our
state’s emissions as we expand and rebuild our infrastructure throughout the state. By
balancing the progress and growth we have already seen in Colorado’s economy with the
need to combat climate change, we can grow an economy with environmentally sound
Furthermore, by selecting materials produced using processes with lower
environmental impacts, Colorado can reduce smog, toxic emissions, particular matter,
and greenhouse gasses released into our atmosphere, and reduce respiratory and other
public health issues. Alongside the fight against climate change are the major health
implications of cleaner and better practices. From the largest cities to the smallest
towns, when we have cleaner water and fresher air, we all benefit. Especially for groups

particularly vulnerable to a deteriorating environment, practices that protect our
environment can improve health and quality of life in dramatic ways.
Not only does this bill protect the environment and promote sustainable
practices, but it also provides a boost to our local and state economies. Some of
Colorado’s manufacturers of key construction materials are industry leaders in “green”
practices and materials. Many of these “green” materials are already in the market,
providing environmentally friendly products without increasing cost or sacrificing
performance. By supporting these green manufacturers and encouraging more builders
and manufacturers to create and use “green” materials, we help give the local industry a
competitive edge nationwide. This, in turn, helps our state and local economies by
providing jobs and revenue in our communities across the state.
HB21-1303, The Buy Clean Colorado Act, directs the Office of State Architecture
and Department of Transportation to establish policies that reduce greenhouse gas
emissions over time by accounting for and limiting the Global Warming Potential
(GWP) of key building materials in state-funded building and transportation projects.
This bill is the most comprehensive in the nation, not only in the scope of materials, but
also in scope of projects. Last month the Governor signed this bill into law, putting
Colorado on the front lines of the fight against climate change. This is one of the many
bills in the 2021 legislative session that I brought to address climate change and improve
the everyday lives of everyone in Colorado.