ENR: AISC Raises Fairness Issues Over Buy Clean California Act

The steel-framed Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.) 

AISC has expressed misgivings about the fairness of a California law, enacted last month, intended to minimize the carbon footprint of certain construction materials used in state-funded building projects, reports Engineering News-Record in an article published yesterday. The act requires all products to have a global warming potential less than the industry average. The Buy Clean California Act will require a successful bidder to submit an environmental product declaration—a product’s climate change profile—for “eligible materials.”   

Carbon-steel rebar, flat glass, mineral-wool board insulation and structural steel are listed. Concrete and wood are not.

“Our concerns are that the bill does not address all construction materials equally by not including the same requirements for concrete and wood [as it does for steel],” said John Cross, AISC vice president of special projects, at the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held on November 8-10 in Boston.

By January 1, 2019, the state Department of General Services (DGS) must establish a “maximum acceptable global warming potential” for each material category, the article says. For this, according to the act, DGS will set the potential using the “industry average of facility-specific global warming potential emissions for the material.” By January 1, 2022, and every three years after, DGS will review the global-warming potential for each eligible material.

Beyond the question of fairness, AISC would like assurance that DGS’s methodology for its selections is based on “a sound technical foundation,” said Cross. “Developing the rules is going to be a real challenge,” he adds, noting that there are several questions that need attention.

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