Builders experienced shocks to their supply chain in early 2020 from COVID-19. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported in April 2020, 45% of contractors experienced shipping delays or supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 as manufacturing facilities and ports closed overseas.
The building product industry is highly globalized and contractors are often reliant on imports. According to Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Data & Analytics, 30% of all building products used in the U.S. are from China, with another 20% sourced from Mexico and Canada. Smaller, lower-cost, and more standardized products are typically manufactured outside the U.S. The products most likely to be sourced overseas include hardware, electrical materials, lighting fixtures and bulbs, plumbing, and fire protection systems. Domestic manufacturers also rely on raw materials and components from overseas to build their finished products.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues these impacts are expected to remain, leading to higher prices and supply chain bottlenecks for contractors, especially as construction rates return to normal. As a result, contractors and manufacturers are seeking ways to build a more resilient supply chain.
For many common building materials, it is possible for builders to find a domestically made alternative. Contractors can ensure their projects are flexible enough to avoid tariff risks by specifying and purchasing American-made building products. Always specifying at least one product made close to home makes sure your project’s contractors have options.
Specifying American made building products is growing in popularity. At least two utilities—in Michigan and Illinois—even reward their use with incentive bonuses for certain products manufactured within the state. Through their “Made in Illinois Incentive Bonus” program, ComEd offers a 10% rebate bonus for installing energy-efficient products manufactured or assembled in Illinois. In Michigan, Consumers Energy offers a 30% bonus rebate for energy-efficient equipment manufactured in Michigan through their “Buy Michigan” program.
Sourcing American made products is also an easy way to earn additional points in several green building certification programs, which require using building products manufactured within a certain distance from your project site.
Now is the time to make sure your projects are taking advantage of the reduced tariff risk, incentives, and tools available when using American made building products.
There are a number of resources, including www.BuildingClean.org, which can help you find American made energy and water efficient products in any state. Put simply, specifying American-made building products is a win-win.
About the Contributor
Dana Parker is the National Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation.