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Low-Carbon Transportation Materials Grants Program

 

Low Carbon Transportation Materials Grant Program
Inflation Reduction Act, Section 60506

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Except for the statutes and regulations cited, the contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the States or the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide information regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

Updated June 7, 2024

Questions organized by topic. Check this website periodically as updates are added.

Topics

Application Process

Agency Application and SF-424

AP-Q1. How many applications can each agency submit?

AP-A1. Each agency may submit only one application. That application must include all activities that request Low-Carbon Transportation Materials (LCTM) Program funding. Multiple activities, materials, and construction projects may be included in the agency’s application. See Request for Application (RFA), Section 6.

AP-Q2. What should be entered into the SF-424 form’s field for ‘Funding Opportunity Number’ and ‘Title’?

AP-A2. Funding Opportunity Number: “FY2022 LCTM 60506”, Title: “Low Carbon Transportation Materials Program, Inflation Reduction Act Section 60506”

AP-Q3. How much detail should be included in the proposed budget?

AP-A3. Agencies should submit a budget application detailed enough to demonstrate that the project satisfies the provisions of this RFA and that it is sufficient and reasonable to cover the scope of work of the application. The budget should appear commensurate with the identified activities. See RFA sections 7 and 8.

AP-Q4. Does the application need to include the Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and the Global Warming Potential (GWP) threshold values for materials or products expected to be used?

AP-A4. No, the application does not need to include EPDs and GWP threshold values that will be used to qualify materials or products for the LCTM program. See RFA Sections 7 and 8.

Funding Availability

AP-Q5. When will the awards be announced?

AP-A5. As per RFA section 10, FHWA anticipates announcing RFA awards by September 2024.

AP-Q6. What is the expected duration of the LCTM program?

AP-A6: The length of the LCTM program implementation can vary depending on the recipient and project(s). However, all funds are required to be obligated by September 30, 2026, and expended by September 30, 2031. See RFA section 5.

Eligible Entities

EE-Q1. How can non-State DOT entities apply for LCTM funding?

EE-A1. Only State DOTs are eligible to apply for LCTM funding under the RFA. FHWA anticipates publishing a separate Notice of Funding Opportunity for non-State DOT eligible entities to apply for LCTM funding in the spring of 2024.

FHWA encourages partnerships between State and non-State DOT eligible entities. Successful State applicants are encouraged to share their experience and best practices with non-State DOT eligible entities applying for LCTM funding.

EE-Q2. Can State DOTs hire a consultant and partner with private industry to facilitate the process development?

EE-A2. Yes. Agencies must follow all applicable Federal, state and local procurement rules.

EE-Q3. Can a private entity submit an application?

EE-A3. No. Only State DOTs (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) are eligible to apply under the RFA. See RFA section 6.

Eligible Activities

EA-Q1. How does FHWA anticipate LCTM funding will be used by recipients?

EA-A1. FHWA anticipates LCTM funds will be used to establish processes necessary to implement and use low carbon materials on a project under Title 23 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.). Funds may be used for work that may be necessary to determine material eligibility, availability, and appropriateness for use on eligible projects. This may include, but is not limited to, training and education, processes to qualify and use low carbon materials such as collection of environmental product declarations (EPDs), identification of local or regional “substantially lower” embodied carbon thresholds, specification development, engineering materials testing, and placement costs associated with low carbon materials during construction. LCTM eligibility information is detailed in Section 6 of the RFA.

EA-Q2. Can an application include only process development activities and not include any construction projects?

EA-A2. As per RFA section 8 Factor 3, the application shall outline how the recipient plans to facilitate the use of materials on eligible construction projects. Applications will be evaluated for identifying potential and eligible construction project(s) and eligible materials for placement.

EA-Q3. Can LCTM funding be used for activities on multiple construction projects?

EA-A3. Yes. As per RFA section 7, the applicant is encouraged to identify a range of potential and eligible construction projects that could incorporate LCTM processes. While LCTM funds will not fund entire construction projects, LCTM funding can be used for activities on multiple construction projects.

EA-Q4. What types of construction projects can use LCTM funding?

EA-A4. Per 23 USC 179 (b)(4)(A), eligible projects for the LCTM program include projects on a (i) Federal-aid highway; (ii) tribal transportation facility, (iii) Federal lands transportation facility; or (iv) Federal lands access transportation facility. Per 23 USC 179 (b)(4)(C), LCTM funds shall not be used for projects that result in additional through travel lanes for single occupant passenger vehicles. Work types may include reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, restoration, and preservation.

EA-Q5. What is included in the cost of using low carbon materials or products during a construction project?

EA-A5. Section 6 of the RFA discusses what is included in the cost of using a low-carbon material under this program. Table 1 includes categories and examples of eligible activities.

EA-Q6. Can a State DOT use LCTM funding to reimburse agency staffing costs for work related to the use of low-carbon materials?

EA-A6. Agency staffing costs for work related to the use of low-carbon materials may be charged to LCTM funds if the work performed meets the criteria of a direct project cost or as part of an allowable indirect cost allocation in accordance with 2 CFR 200.412-416.

EA-Q7. Can LCTM funds be used to directly pay for contractors’, material producers’ or suppliers’ capital equipment at production facilities?

EA-A7. As discussed in section 6 of the RFA, funds are available to use on construction projects funded under Title 23 and to use for activities required to develop a process to demonstrate materials meet the standard of “substantially lower embodied carbon” and are appropriate for use. Use of LCTM funds to directly pay contractors, producers, or suppliers for capital equipment at production facilities is not an eligible cost under 23 U.S.C. 179.

EA-Q8. Can LCTM funding be used for the construction of experimental sections for full-scale, accelerated pavement tests?

EA-A8. No. Applied research is outside the scope of eligible activities. Building experimental test sections is not an eligible cost under 23 U.S.C. 179.

Eligible Materials

How Materials Qualify

EM-Q1. As part of the LCTM Program, recipients can use funding for process development activities to demonstrate materials meet the standard of "substantially lower embodied carbon" and are appropriate for use in Title 23 construction projects. How are materials deemed appropriate for process development activities?

EM-A1. As discussed in Sections 5 and 6 of the RFA, materials that are deemed appropriate for process development activities must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The material or product must be in one of the purchase categories:
    • Concrete (and cement)
    • Glass (including, but not limited to, flat or float glass, processed glass, and insulated glazing units)
    • Asphalt mix
    • Steel
    • Assembly comprised of at least 80 percent of materials by total cost or total weight from one of these categories.
  • An underlying Product Category Rule (PCR) is available for the material or product to ensure a facility-and material/product-specific Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) conformant to relevant PCRs can be produced to qualify the material for the LCTM Program.
  • The material or product has a “substantially lower” embodied carbon threshold available from FHWA’s website or an agency demonstrates intent to identify local or regional thresholds to qualify materials and products.
  • The agency demonstrates intent to obligate LCTM funds for use of the material or product on an eligible construction project by September 30, 2026.

EM-Q2. How do materials qualify for use in construction under the LCTM Program?

EM-A2. To qualify materials for use in construction the following criteria must be satisfied, as discussed in Sections 4 and 6 of the RFA:

  • The material or product must be in one of the purchase categories:
    • Concrete (and cement)
    • Glass (including, but not limited to, flat or float glass, processed glass, and insulated glazing units)
    • Asphalt mix
    • Steel
    • Assembly comprised of at least 80 percent of materials by total cost or total weight from one of these categories.
  • A facility-and material/product-specific Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) conformant to relevant PCRs is collected and used to evaluate against the embodied carbon threshold (see below).
  • The material or product meets the “substantially lower” embodied carbon threshold for Global Warming Potential (GWP) if it is in the 20th percentile when compared to similar materials or products.
    • If no material or product is available to meet the 20th percentile, then the GWP of the materials or products must be in the 40th percentile when compared to similar materials or products.
    • If no material or product is available to meet the 20th or 40th percentiles, the GWP of the materials or products must be better than the industry average when compared to similar materials or products.
    • If materials are unavailable at the 20th or 40th percentiles, the agency shall document how materials or products available were searched and how selected materials or products were qualified to ensure they have met the criteria defined by the EPA Interim Determination.
  • The agency shall request and collect an ENERGY STAR Energy Performance Score if available. Refer to EPA's December 22, 2022, Interim Determination for more information.

EM-Q3. Can an applicant request funding under this Program to acquire materials testing equipment?

EM-A3. LCTM Program funding may be used to acquire material testing equipment to support implementation of low carbon materials specification development and material or product evaluation in accordance with 2 CFR 200.439, including receiving prior written approval from FHWA, as applicable. The agency must demonstrate that the equipment is needed to determine if a material or product meets the standard of “substantially lower embodied carbon” and is appropriate for use on eligible Title 23 construction projects.

Other Materials and Methods

EM-Q4. How can in-place pavement recycling be considered under the LCTM program?

EM-A4. First, refer to FAQs EM-Q1 and EM-Q2 for ‘How Materials Qualify’ and determine whether all the requirements can be met to qualify the in-place pavement recycling of interest as an LCTM. If the in-place pavement recycling does not qualify, as discussed in the RFA section 8, Appendix A and FAQ EA-Q5, the cost associated with in-place pavement recycling may still be an eligible LCTM cost. The recipient will need to demonstrate that the in-place recycling cost is directly associated with furnishing and placement of a qualified low-carbon material, as determined by the recipient, and approved by FHWA when calculating the incremental or incentive amounts for construction projects.

EM-Q5. Are materials and methods such as glass fiber reinforced polymer bars, geosynthetics, or pavement surface grinding and grooving eligible for the LCTM program?

EM-A5. As discussed in section 4 of the RFA, per the EPA’s Interim Determination, only materials and products that fall within the product categories included (i.e., Concrete (and cement), Glass, Asphalt mix, Steel) are eligible for funding under the LCTM program. Furthermore, an EPD that is facility-and material or product-specific, published in accordance with relevant PCR is required to qualify the specific material and product. Materials and products that do not meet these conditions are not eligible for LCTM funding.

EM-Q6. Can a State DOT develop EPDs for traditional construction materials and low-carbon materials as an eligible activity?

EM-A6. No. As per ISO 21930;2017, an EPD can only be developed and declared by the material or product manufacturer. See ISO 21930;2017 at 5.4. As per Appendix A of the RFA, eligible recipients can use the funding to collect, identify, specify, verify, and use facility- and product or material-specific EPDs.

LCTM Benchmarks and Standards

EM-Q7. Can a State DOT develop its own threshold values for traditional construction materials and low-carbon materials as an eligible activity?

EM-A7. Yes. As per RFA section 4, public agencies are responsible for either utilizing national threshold values that will be referenced on the FHWA LCTM industry averages website for developing their own local or regional thresholds.

EM-Q8. Can a material that is currently being used by a State DOT qualify for LCTM funding for use in eligible construction projects?

EM-A8. Yes. A material currently used by the State DOT can qualify as an LCTM. Refer to the FAQs for ‘How Materials Qualify’ EM-Q1 and EM-Q2.

EM-Q9. Can LCTM funds be used to develop EPDs and threshold values beyond the production stage (often referred to as “cradle-to-gate”, A1-A3)?

EM-A9. No. As discussed in the RFA section 4, the EPA Interim Determination outlined an approach to establish the materials and products that are currently eligible for LCTM funding. As such, in the EPA Interim Determination footnote 2, EPA indicated that “the EPA is prioritizing materials/products that have the highest global-warming potential impact in the production stage” (emphasis by FHWA to provide clarity). Thus, LCTM funding can only be used to support eligible activities as related to the production stage or “cradle-to-gate” (A1-A3) for the eligible materials and products.

EM-Q10. Are State DOTs responsible for establishing an EPD verification program within their agency, or will there be national-level third parties that can be used for verification?

EM-A10. Recipients must establish an EPD verification process. Per the RFA Appendix A, at a minimum, recipients must establish a process for requiring supplier declaration of conformity for the EPD submittal and a process for verifying that EPDs are facility- and material or product-specific cradle-to-gate Type III (third-party verified), published in accordance with relevant PCR, and within its period of validity.

Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Standards

EM-Q11. Clarify the references to “ISO standards,” “ISO acceptable practices,” and “ISO-conformant analysis” on pages 5 and 8 of the RFA.

EM-A11. As discussed in appendix A of the RFA, applicants must conform with EPA’s December 22, 2022 Interim Determination including conformance with applicable International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards body that governs standards related to sustainability in buildings and civil works, including the core rules, principles, and guidelines for EPDs of construction products and services. ISO 21678; 2020 is the standard that provides the principles, requirements, and guidelines for benchmarking purposes related to construction works.

EM-Q12. For a material being considered, can ISO 21930 be used as the core PCR to develop an EPD if there is no sub-category PCR (commonly referred to as part B specific PCR)?

EM-A12. No. All eligible materials and products categories have Part B specific PCRs. ISO 21930;2017, is considered a core PCR (commonly referred to as Part A PCR) providing general guidance for all construction products and services. Sub-category PCRs are made to ensure data provided on the embodied carbon of each material is credible and based on data sets that are consistently applied across the sector. See ISO 21930;2017 at 3.1.5. This issue is further discussed in ISO 21930;2017 at 6.3. Given this, as discussed in RFA section 4, the EPA Interim Determination outlined an approach to qualify materials and products for LCTM funding. The approach includes that only EPDs that conform with a corresponding PCR (i.e., Part B specific PCRs) that was active when the EPD was issued are acceptable under the LCTM program.

Funding

Scope of Construction

F-Q1. Can recipients use LCTM funding to fund entire construction projects?

F-A1. No. As discussed in RFA Sections 2 and 6 and 23 U.S.C. 179(b), the LCTM program will not fund entire construction projects. The LCTM program provides reimbursement using two funding methods (incremental amount or incentive amount) for the cost of using qualified materials or products that meet the definition of “substantially lower embodied carbon” on eligible construction projects.

F-Q2. Are eligible agencies required to create a new Federal project to apply for this grant?

F-A2. New Federal-aid projects are not required to apply for funding. As per RFA Section 6 and 7, the application is encouraged to identify a range of potential and eligible construction projects that could incorporate eligible materials.

F-Q3. Can LCTM funding be used on projects that are only using state funds? If so, will Federal aid requirements apply?

F-A3. Federal Title 23 requirements will apply to all projects that use LCTM funding. Per 23 U.S.C. 179(b)(4)(A), LCTM funding can be used in construction for a project on a ‘‘(i) Federal-aid highway; (ii) tribal transportation facility; (iii) Federal lands transportation facility; or (iv) Federal lands access transportation facility.”

Combining Federal Funds

F-Q4. Is it permissible for the State DOT to use LCTM funding on construction projects along with other types of Federal funding (including other grants funding)?

F-A4. Yes. LCTM funding can be combined with other Federal funds, including other grant funding. The eligible recipient should consider requirements of the LCTM program and the other Federal program to ensure eligibility and requirements are met for both programs. Per section 7 of the RFA, applicants are encouraged to identify a range of potential and eligible construction projects that could incorporate LCTM processes.

Incremental Amount Option

F-Q5. Does the Incremental Amount funding method pay only for the incremental difference between the cost of using traditional materials and products and the cost of using low-carbon materials?

F-A5. Yes. As discussed in section 6 of the RFA, the incremental amount funding method refers to the delta-cost (or incrementally higher costs) between using low-carbon materials as compared to traditional materials as determined by the eligible recipient and approved by FHWA. As per RFA Appendix A, if a recipient pursues this funding method, they must document their methodology for how the amount was determined.

Allocation

F-Q6. Will the State DOT and FHWA sign a separate grant agreement for the use of the LCTM funds on a project?

F-A6. No, for awards to State DOTs, an allocation memo will be issued by FHWA that will reference the project scope and award terms & conditions. Funds will be made available in the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS) for obligation.

F-Q7. What is the process for including EPDs in a low-bid environment or when the contractor is unknown?

F-A7. Recipients are responsible for determining the most suitable way to incorporate LCTM needs including requiring EPDs for eligible materials in contract documents in accordance with 23 CFR 630B and 23 CFR 635.112. Contract documents such as Instruction to Bidders, Special Provisions, or Specifications for the item of work with eligible material may include such requirements. There are various ways that the recipient can require contractors to provide the required EPDs. For example, collection of EPDs may be required at time of bid, prior to material placement, and/or as a programmatic process prior to construction projects letting (i.e., developing an approved list of Low carbon materials and products, or requiring EPDs as part of the approval of job mix formula/mix design process). Additionally, recipients may include a fixed amount bid item in the contract to offset the contractor’s cost of submitting EPDs. In all cases, the recipient will develop contract provisions to specify the type of EPDs that should be submitted and process for submitting EPDs.

Two Percent Incentive

F-Q8. If a recipient chooses to utilize the incentive funding method on one or more LCTM activities, how is the two percent funding method applied?

F-A8. As discussed in appendix A of the RFA, the recipient’s Implementation Process Report shall describe how the incremental or incentive amount will be determined for construction projects using LCTM funding. The incentive funding method refers to the amount that results from two percent of the cost of using a low-carbon construction material or product. For a construction project, this amount is based on the cost of the low carbon material bid items, and other necessary costs directly associated with furnishing and placing the qualified materials. Both the incentive and incremental funding methods pertain to LCTM funding distributed by FHWA to the grant recipient. The LCTM incentive funding method should not be confused with quality price adjustments between agencies and contractors.

Implementation Process Reports (IPRs) & Reporting

IR-Q1. What are Implementation Process Reports (IPRs)?

IR-A1. As per RFA sections 5, 6, 9 and Appendix A, IPRs document the processes necessary for identifying, selecting, specifying, and using low-carbon materials on construction projects receiving LCTM funding. IPRs must be submitted for FHWA approval before FHWA issues the authorization to proceed or obligate LCTM funding for use on construction projects.

IR-Q2. Can more than one IPR be submitted?

IR-A2. As per RFA Appendix A, recipients may submit multiple IPRs. IPRs may be submitted based on an agency’s goals for LCTM implementation, organizational structure, or number and types of materials or products considered for eligibility.

Updated: 06/07/2024
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000