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The State of California Announces Use of UL PCR to Help Implement Buy Clean California Act (AB-262) Requirements

August 24, 2018

Following passage of AB 262, the Buy Clean California Act, in 2017, the State of California is moving quickly to implement one of the first sustainable procurement programs in the US to address embedded carbon emissions in state-funded building and construction projects.

On January 1, 2019, California will begin requesting Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) from manufacturers and requiring EPDs after January 1, 2020 for certain materials, including carbon steel rebar, structural steel, flat glass, and mineral wool board insulation. The State of California Procurement Engineers will be using UL Product Category Rules Part B: Building Envelope Thermal Insulation EPD Requirements for the basis of gathering carbon emission data on this product category.

Product Category Rules (PCR) help minimize confusion among various types of environmental reporting by establishing a clear and consistent evaluation method by which the environmental impact of products in a specific industry are evaluated. Once a PCR is published, an EPD can be created based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data which enables a more fair comparison of environmental impacts between similar products.

By January 1, 2021 the State of California will establish maximum global warming potentials (GWP) for applicable product categories and will require EPDs that are below the threshold starting July 1, 2021. EPDs will then be used to determine product compliance to the GWP limits. Manufacturers who do not have EPDs, or have EPDs that exceed the maximum GWP limit risk being excluded from one of the largest markets in the U.S. and the sixth largest economy in the world – with substantial purchasing power, spending more than $10 billion annually on infrastructure.

US states, including California, Washington, and Oregon, are increasingly turning to EPDs as a tool to promote environmentally preferred purchasing and enhance sustainable procurement policies to address climate risks. With demand for EPDs growing, manufacturers should expect EPD requirements to evolve as states implement new policies, including new PCR revisions across product categories.

What should manufacturers do to prepare?

  • California awarding authorities will begin requesting EPDs from manufacturers starting January 1, 2019 and requiring EPDs after January 1, 2020.
  • Manufacturers who do not have EPDs by this time risk being excluded from project bids.
  • Few EPDs currently exist for these products. Manufacturers that pursue EPDs early will have an advantage when bidding on projects.
  • UL can help manufacturers looking to pursue EPDs by providing a turnkey solution across the EPD journey – from LCA creation to EPD publication.

UL Environment has the most published EPDs in North America (900+) on its SPOT database, and is a global leader in PCR creation, having led PCR development for sealants, flooring, tires, hand dryers, structural wood products, printers and cladding. View UL’s PCRs that fulfill California’s new EPD requirements, and find products with PCRs developed by UL, on SPOT™. To learn more about getting an EPD for your product, contact us at [email protected].