LCA and EPD Sustainability for the Construction Industry

LCA and EPD Sustainability for the Construction IndustryCalifornia is one of the leading states with commitments from all parts of every industry to strive to reduce the carbon footprint and Co² in the next 30 years. The construction industry is very much a part of this movement with individual materials that makeup concrete and asphalt being required to create a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and from that create an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) on each product.

Buy Clean California ACT (AB262)

Enacted in October 2017, California’s Buy Clean California Act (Assembly Bill 262) requires the state’s Department of General Services, by January 1, 2019, to establish a maximum acceptable global warming potential (GWP) for certain “eligible materials” (carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation, and structural steel). These items are required at this time in order to perform work for the Department of Transportation. Included in that list is also aggregates, asphalt, and concrete, however these requirements have been delayed for now, but as an industry, contractors should be getting ready for when they are implemented.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

LCA sustainability is the starting point for any product to be assessed as a method to evaluate the environmental effects associated with any given industrial activity for the initial gathering of raw materials from the earth to the point at which all residuals are returned to the earth, typically known as, from the cradle to grave. Once an LCA is established on each end user product, you can then take the formulation of each LCA and that makes up mix proportions of asphalt and concrete and create an EPD.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

EPD sustainability informing us on a product’s potential environmental and human health impact. The EPD is produced on each placed product, whether aggregate, asphalt or concrete, on the basis of LCA calculations, and provided quantitative basis for comparison of the products service life. Some compare this to a nutrition label on food products and how each ingredient affects the total mixture. In the future, a contractor must provide an EPD for each mix prior to its acceptance of use in the project.

What should a Contractor Do Now?

With the signing of an agreement with Canada, Governor Newsome has signaled his commitment to move forward in all aspects for reducing Co² and in general, the sustainability effect of every product the State of California uses in all aspects of transportation. We would expect some movement towards LCA’s and EPD sustainability for aggregate, asphalt, and concrete within the next 5 years, so it is highly recommended to start researching the requirements for creating LCA’s and EPD’s.   

G3 Quality, Inc. is here to provide any further information you may need and how to implement these revisions on your current or upcoming projects. For more information, reach out to our Technical Services Director, Marc Robert by email at mrobert@g3quality.com or by phone at 562.321.5561.

We are an elite team of engineers and professionals who provide world-class quality management, pavement engineering, materials design, construction inspection, and testing on infrastructure projects throughout California and the western United States. To learn more about how G3 Quality can contribute knowledge, expertise, consulting, and professional services to your project, contact us.