The Buy Clean Movement
By Rebecca Ramsdale
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
– Anna Lappé
In the AEC community, we have the exciting opportunity to select products and systems for the buildings we work on. This opportunity also comes with the great responsibility to choose clean, healthy, accessible, sustainable, and low-carbon materials. Carbon is the newest buzzword in the biz, especially when it comes to embodied carbon. (Confused about common carbon terms? Read our explanation.) Embodied carbon emissions are locked in place as soon as a construction project is complete and will stay there for the lifetime of the building—sometimes 60+ years!
To support the AEC industry in making informed decisions, the Buy Clean movement uses purchasing power to address climate change. Voting with our money! California’s Department of General Services (DGS) requires building product manufacturers to provide environmental transparency for certain materials and building types under the Buy Clean California Act, AB 262. This information is referred to as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), and it essentially works as a nutrition label for a material. Local governments including Los Angeles, Berkeley, Cupertino, and Richmond have also issued Executive Directives to communicate this standard. As it becomes more and more likely that your projects will be impacted, here are some tips to help your teams with planning department review and permit applications. Nobody likes surprises!
Must-Know Details About the Buy Clean California Act (BCCA):
Which projects does this apply to?
The awarding authorities include:
- Department of Transportation, Water Resources, Parks and Recreation, Corrections and Rehabilitation, Military, 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 materials and limits?
- Structural Steel: 1.38 – 2.83 metric tons CO2-eq
- Concrete Reinforcing Steel: 1.06 metric tons CO2-eq
- Flat Glass: 1.72 metric tons CO2-eq
- Mineral Wool Board Insulation: 4.00 – 9.79 kg CO2-eq
When is BCCA Active?
- Now – If your project falls under the above awarding authorities
- ASAP – To stay ahead of the competitive and cost curve
- January 1, 2024 – Forthcoming Additions: Adjusted GWP limits, Materials, and Building Types
How do I comply with BCCA?
- Track the Global Warming Potential (GWP) from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
- Conduct whole building life cycle assessments
Where do I find EPDs and Additional Resources?
- Manufacturer websites
- CA.GOV – BCCA
- ASTM International
- Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)
- NSF International
- Program Operator Consortium
- SCS Global Services
- Sustainable Minds Transparency Catalog
- UL Environment PCRs
- UL Environment EPDs
Need extra support? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for project collaboration and pursuits. Let’s build an equitable net zero future for all people, now!