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California bill would require purchase of low-carbon construction products

Contractors would have to source products based on greenhouse gas impact, not price, on state projects.

November 14, 2017 |
Redwood National Forest

A new California bill would tackle carbon emissions in a new way—by requiring the use of lower-carbon construction products.

Assembly Bill 262, the Buy Clean Act, would require all state departments and the University of California and California State University systems to buy steel, rebar, flat glass, and mineral wool board insulation for its infrastructure projects from low-carbon producers. This would be a drastic change from the current lowest-cost purchasing strategy.

The latter allows contractors to buy materials from anywhere—including China—where materials are more likely to be produced with less energy efficient methods. The bill would require the state to determine the average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit from the manufacture of the four infrastructure products.

Bidders on state projects would be required to submit Environmental Product Declarations, (EPDs), to prove that the materials they use are at or below the average for GHG impact. The Buy Clean bill has bi-partisan support in the legislature, and is supported by a coalition of labor, business, environment, and building trade groups.

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