Revised Buy Clean California & The Steel Supply Chain Webinar – Q&A

Q: If we have a project that falls under Buy Clean CA but also has some heavy wide flange columns that are not currently rolled in the US, then what options do we have for compliance? Do we need to push the foreign supplier to develop a new EPD per the UL PCR?

A: (MAX) If the product is from out of country, it doesn’t change its applicability for the regulation.  Have a discussion with that supplier about what EPD documentation they have.  If that producer has an EPD that is not compliant with the North American PCR, then it does not comply.

(JOHN) If the product is only available from only one source, you could apply for an exemption based on it being single-sourced.

Comment: AISC 303 Code of Standard Practice 2022 Edition will be published this fall, with updates to Section 2.2, including the list of items which are included as Structural Steel and items which are not Structural Steel.

(MAX) Yes, that is a good point.  The Code of Standard Practice will be updated and out shortly.  Even if there are slight changes to Tables 2.1 and 2.2, those will only be an extension of the current idea that we described about what defines structural steel and what does not.  The definition about the appropriate items being essential to support the design loads of the structure is not changing. The principle is unchanged.

Q: My Contractor will be using HP members for shoring which he has used for over 10 years.  Does he need an EPD for these members he has in his yard?

A: (JOHN) HP is primarily a pile product.  If it’s a pile, it would not be covered. These are really for members used in construction of building, not just for shoring.  You’re not going out and buying – you already have those in your possession.  You would not have to comply with Buy Clean California in terms of the source of those since they’re a working piece of steel.  This is something that probably will not be covered.

(MAX) Especially since it’s a product already in your yard and you are using it for multiple projects, it is consistent with Buy Clean’s purpose to reuse material instead of buying more.  In principle, there wouldn’t be an issue here.

Q: Does every individual beam and column need to comply with the GWP limit, or is it an average of all the steel in the project?

A: (JOHN) Each individual steel beam or column that is used must comply.  It is not an overall project average.

(MAX) Each California agency that we talked about is tasked with coming up with their own minute implementation rules.  We’ve seen this already with CalTrans and others.  It will be up to each agency to decide if there is a minimum threshold for the size of project they’re interested in complying with.

Q: Please Clarify Fabrication. Does it mean after fabrication of the project or fabrication of the HSS/shape at the mill?

A: (JOHN) The threshold is set at mill gate.  If it’s hot rolled section, it’s at the gate where the hot rolled section leaves the mill to be shipped to a fabricator.  If it’s an HSS section, it’s at gate of the HSS producer where it will be shipped to a fabricator.  A fabricator takes that material according to the plans of the project – cuts it/drills it/welds to it.  That is all less than 10% typically of the GWP that is not included in these thresholds.

Q: Do you have any information or ideas of how California jobs that require the Buy Clean California Act will treat specific materials that may not be available from North American/Domestic mills?   For example, if there are any profiles or grades that are only produced overseas, will those be allowed to be used on California projects that have any tax funding and which are contracted after July 1st?

A: (JOHN) Ideally, the foreign producer would have an EPD.  But if they don’t and it’s single sourced; or if it would be technically infeasible to use some other product as a substitute, there would be the option for an exception.  Again, it goes back to individual agencies – they will have their own process for handling exceptions.  Though the goal isn’t to have to always get an exception, there will be times when there may be specific products that are not available from a producer that has an available EPD.

Q: It was suggested that EPDs be sought from mills and/or (in the case of HSS) service centers. Would it also be appropriate for specifiers to find EPDs published on a third-party EPD platform or from program operators? If yes, what are the suggested sites to use to get the most up-to-date information?

A: (JOSEPH) On the HSS side, if you go to the, you’ll be able to search for EPDs and it will show all the HSS EDPs – both the industry wide EPD for the entire Steel Tube Institute organization, the fabricated HSS EPD, and also all the facility-specific EPDs for each member of the Steel Tube Institute.

(JOHN) It is always good to have either the PDF of the original EPD or that EPD in writing.  You can look things up on websites that have lists of what the GWP is based on EPDs.  The law requires the EPD to be provided.  The other issue is that websites that have databases are almost always still in a beta test mode.  The quality of the data and the conversions that have been done aren’t necessarily always accurate.  I would encourage you to work from the source documents rather than secondary documents.  The challenge with the secondary documents and the websites is whether they get A1, A2, and A3 all added together correctly. Do they sometimes include A4 and A5?  Is conversion of units done properly?  Always go back to the physical or PDF of the actual EPD when you’re looking for these documents.

(MAX) To make that easier, AISC will always maintain a list on our website,, of active domestic EPDs that are currently published by any domestic mill.

Comment: The City of Los Angeles has voluntarily adopted a mirror policy of that of the State for projects overseen by the Department of Public Works – Bureau of Engineering.

A: (JOHN) If there is tax money involved, assume Buy Clean California unless demonstrated differently.  There are jurisdictions, other than Los Angeles, that have adopted the principles of Buy Clean as well.  It’s not always state money – it could be city money as well. 

Q: When you use the term “Starts July 1st, 2022”, would that be for new material purchase orders placed after July 1st, or would that be for projects who have a contract date (to the steel trade partner, for example) that are issued after July 1st, or other dates?  

A: (JOHN) You need to talk with the specific agency and ask those questions of that agency.  I know CalTrans sent out a letter to their contractees stating what the breakdown of those dates would be.

Q: Do the Federal Buy Clean proposals, Executive Order, etc. only cover the steel materials covered by BCCA?  Do we know yet?  Does it cover additional steel materials?

A: (JOHN) Absolutely – it will cover other steel materials and other materials in general.  There are state Buy Cleans out there that include cold formed steel.  This is going to grow.  We’re specially talking about Buy Clean California right now.  Down the road, you will probably see every product used in construction – particularly framing system products or façade products.  Ultimately, they will need to have an EPD and there will be a threshold associated with it.

Q: What is the process for filing an exception with the state?   Do you have any examples or help in guiding thru that?

A: (JOHN) This goes back to individual agency at this point and what their exemption process is going to be.  There are not any examples because no one has applied for an exemption yet in terms of a specific product being used on a project.  If you run into a snag, let us know and we’re more than happy to help work through agency issues.  This isn’t just you, it’s all of us.

Q: In the case of a certain steel shape that is only available overseas, do you see any potential liability on the part of the designer for using shapes that are known not to comply with Buy Clean California?

A: (JOSEPH) As far as liability, it would have to be between the designer and the agency in the State of California to work through that complication.

Q: Are mill EPDs connected to the mill material certificates (MTR)? Will they be provided concurrently by the mills?

A: (JOSEPH) They not connected and not issued conjointly.  A mill could issue them both, but a mill test report is getting to traceability to a heat member where the EPD all deal with GWP values of that material.  EPD is not tied to an MTR.

(MAX) I agree.  Those two different sets of documentation are independent, but related.  If you were providing documentation in compliance of Buy Clean California, I can see how submitting the MTR may be necessary to connect, documentation-wise, the identification of your specific material from a specific mill and then independently submitting the mill’s EPD, but they are two separate processes.  The MTR will identify the chemical properties and adherence of that particular material to the proper ASTM specification, but it will also include identification of the mill that it came from.  That will be the connecting link to demonstrate your material came from a particular mill, and then connecting that to the mill’s EPD.

Q: Have there been any lessons learned on helping identify or communicate which members of a structure would require compliance with BCCA?  For example, a 3D-colored model may help explain which member types would be applicable.  I believe in general, there is some an overwhelming feeling with complying with this requirement.

A: (JOHN) To answer it simply, there isn’t a 3D-colored model.  The key is to go back to the Code of Standard Practice and read section 2 that spells out what is and what is not included in the definition of structural steel.

Once again, if there is a question that comes up, reach out to AISC’s solution center and reach out to Steel Tube Institute.  We can help guide you.

(JOSEPH) Last year, the Steel Tube Institute got questions about handrails or light poles – things that are not considered to be structural.  Currently, they do not they fall under the envelope of Buy Clean California.  This points to some future implications as this scope enlarges to include other aspects in a building other than structural steel.

DISCLAIMER:  While these documents, tables and information are believed to be accurate, they have not been prepared for conventional use as an engineering or construction document and should not be used or relied upon for any specific application without competent professional examination and verification of their accuracy, suitability, and applicability by a licensed engineer, architect or other professional.  The Steel Tube Institute and its consultants disclaim any liability arising from information provided by others or from the use of the information contained in these documents.

Buy Clean California & The Steel Supply Chain Webinar On Demand

STI and AISC presented a joint presentation to provide clarity on the new Buy Clean California statute. Whether you are an engineer, structural steel producer, steel service center, structural steel fabricator, or just interested this webinar is for you.

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