The latest level of burden facing public works contractors making its way through Sacramento comes to us in the form of the “Buy Clean California Act.” BCCA, as it’s known, will require certain materials used in public works construction to be certified as conforming to the maximum acceptable Global Warming Potential (GWP) limit for four categories of building products: structural steel, concrete reinforcing steel, flat glass, and mineral wool board insulation. 

At the crux of this issue is the State’s attempt to develop a procurement policy that establishes construction material purchasing requirements for government agencies. The goal here is reducing industrial emissions associated with greenhouse gasses arising from the raw material extraction, transportation, and manufacturing of construction materials.

It is an Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD that will drive the eligibility of product use. An EPD is an independently verified and registered document that reports a product’s environmental impact over its life cycle.

The government further intends to create a market for lower carbon construction materials. The BCCAis the first known policy of this type introduced in this country when it was passed into California law in October, 2017.

There seems to be some traction for the movement as buy clean policies are now being explored at the federal, state, and local levels across the United States.

Beginning January 1, 2025, and every three years thereafter, the California Department of General Services, who is administering the program, will review the maximum acceptable GWP for each material and if necessary, may only adjust the limit downward to reflect industry improvements.

The BCCAallows DGS to exclude emissions that occur during fabrication stages when setting the initial GWP limit. Fabrication refers to the processing of materials in preparation for use at the construction jobsite (e.g., bending, cutting, drilling, and painting).

Who’s In Charge?

The BCCA, through (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) limits. However, from what we are seeing at this point there appears to be no clear methodology for enforcement or identification of penalties…stay tuned.

By Garrett Francis, ECA President Email: [email protected]