Buy Clean California Act
What does the Buy Clean California Act mean for you? It’s a new California law that goes into effect on July 1, 2022, requiring specific products to have a low embodied carbon footprint.
This means that publicly funded projects using taxpayers dollars, like cities constructing schools, colleges, and related buildings must limit the purchase of building materials, such as steel, that are high in embodied carbon.
If you don’t want to miss out on public works projects, you must comply by showing documentation to prove your product meets state-mandated limits.
What is embodied carbon?
If you’ve never heard of embodied carbon, you are not alone.
In the building industry, embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the entire life cycle of material. This includes the manufacturing, transportation, installation, and maintenance to the disposal or reuse of a building material.
Embodied carbon is typically quantified as the amount of carbon generated per unit of material. The global warming potential (GWP) of a material is determined by an environmental product declaration (EPD), which are similar to the nutrition labels on food products.
This new law will increase demand for low-embodied-carbon products.
By establishing preferential purchasing for low-embodied-carbon materials, compliant products are defined as desirable and rewarded by taxpayer-funded projects.
Who oversees the BCCA?
The Buy Clean California Act (BCCA) (Public Contract Code Sections 3500-3505), states the Department of General Services (DGS), in consultation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is required to establish and publish the maximum acceptable Global Warming Potential (GWP) limit.
– Limits were established on January 1, 2022.
– Products must prove compliance using a Environmental Products Declaration (EPD).
– The BCCA legislative report can be found on the DGS Legislative Reports webpage in the 2022 folder.
– Contracts awarded on or after July 1, 2022
What are the applicable construction products?
When used in public works projects, these eligible materials must have a GWP that does not exceed the limit set by DGS.
Which awarding authorities must comply with the BCCA?
The awarding authorities are the Department of Transportation, Department of Water Resources, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Military Department, Department of General Services, Regents of the University of California, Trustees of the California State University, and state agencies granted authority to work on public works projects under Management Memo 18-01.
What is an Environmental Product Declaration?
The data on the “global warming potential” of a material is documented using an environmental product declaration (EPD), which are similar to the nutrition labels on food products.
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is defined by International Organization for Standardization 14025 as a Type III declaration that “quantifies environmental information on the life cycle of a product to enable comparisons between products fulfilling the same function.”
The EPD must meet certain requirements before an awardingauthority can determine material compliance.
EPD must be:
- Facility-specific manufacturer declaration.
- Independently verified in accordance with ISO 14025 (Type III environmental declarations – Principles and procedures)
- Developed following a Product Category Rule (PCR) as identified by DGS.
- EPD’s are to be valid and not expired.
- Represented as an eligible material.
The EPD must not be:
- Industrywide/industry-average product declaration.
- Fabricator’s product declaration.
- An average reported GWP from multiple manufacturing facilities.
Contacts for specific awarding authority policies:
Department of Transportation
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Department of Parks and Recreation
California State University
University of California
Department of Water Resources
DGS/Real Estate Services Division
In the pursuit of a greener future, California is hard at work on a number of efforts to reduce energy use in manufacturing and increase the use of renewable resources. The Buy Clean California Act is a crucial step toward ensuring that what we build tomorrow will be green for generations to come.
Fortunately, the Buy Clean California Act — does just that. It’s a win/win for everyone and sets the stage for other states to follow.