Sustainable Material Management

Posted on 6/18/2018 7:50:39 AM By Paul Bertram

Early this year, I was an invited speaker at the EPA Forum on Lifecycle Approaches to Sustainably Manage Materials in Building and Infrastructure Projects. The goal of this forum was to establish a common understanding of what it means to apply life cycle approaches such as design for adaptability, recycling, and disassembly; materials reuse; and life cycle impact analysis to sustainably manage materials in building and infrastructure projects.

Many of the sessions covered topics that I have previously blogged about such as lifecycle thinking/assessment, resilience, adaptability, end of life, waste management, material transparency, disclosure, embodied carbon and optimization as well as related labeling programs such as EPDs, HPDs, Portico, Declare, Cradle to Cradle, and GreenScreenor all the “Green” rating systems including: LEED, GreenGlobes, BREEAM, 189.1, Living Building Challenge, and Wellness

If I were to create a Check List for ASC Manufacturers as related to this Forum it would look like below:

Do you have the following?


Indicate completed, under review, or in process

Approximate costs

EMS Environment Management System that includes Environmental Impacts and Sustainability


Most companies already have this but may need to add some of these new topics – can be done internally or with consultant $5,000+

ASTM 2129 - Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products


Can be done

CSI GreenFormat


Can be done in-house

Corporate Green Team


Internal structure

Dedicated Environment/Sustainability Director


$60,000 - $100,000+

On staff Chemists that understand Risk Assessment


Most already have on staff

ISO 9001- Quality Management


$10,000+ requires consultant

ISO 14001- Environmental Management


$10,000+ this is first step to LCA – can be done internally or with consultant

Other Quality Management program


To Be Determined

Quality Assurance Program(s)


Part of Specifications

ISO 18001 - Occupational Health and Safety


$10,000+ requires consultant

ISO 5001 Energy management


$10,000+ There are incentives through the DOE Better Plants program

Optimization program including supply chain


Part of the Sustainability Directors Job - Consultant $50,000+ depending on depth of supply chain

Continuous Improvement Program



Resilience Criteria for Materials



Material Transparency –





$40,000 – 200,000 depending on depth of product lines and need to separate out materials



Can be done internally – Consultant $2,500 - $5,000+

Declare Label


Depends on how many products

Green Screen


Consultant $ dispends on depth of product line and supply chain

Cradle to Cradle label


Again depends on number of products and depth of supply chain – one product starts at about $20,000 per product

UL Product LENS - ingredient disclosure tool



A per product evaluation fee

Emissions Testing Certifications or CDPH v1.2 Testing Programs



Per product fees for validation + must have testing data completed

Other Label Program Certification(s)


To Be Determined

Waste Management program (manufacturing)


Internal but there ASTM E2979 – 18 Guidelines available

Waste Management program (On site or Off-Site construction)


Internal but there ASTM E2979 – 18 Guidelines available

Recyclability of Product



Energy Efficiency benefits of product (use phase)


Can be part of an LCA but usually done separately as an energy model $30,000+

Product End of Life policy/program


Internal or with consultant

Carbon Disclosure


To be determined
requires source energy accounting

CSR Reporting - Corporate Social Responsibility



Requires validation

GRI – Global Reporting Imitative – Business Sustainability Reporting


Requires validation

Net Zero Energy Program


Internal effort

Many purchase Off-Site renewables to achieve goal if not possible per location – market prices vary

Life Cycle Assessment and required Maintenance


Ties back to warranty and maintenance but adds predicted associated costs

Durability (functional Performance) evaluation check list:

Note: this was not formally discussed in this Forum and in my opinion should be considered in future Forums

Refer to CSI’s Project Delivery Practice Guide for Product Selection and Evaluation

See Establishing Product Criteria – Durability


Considerations, in part, include:

Impact Resistance, Moisture Resistance, Chemical Resistance, Weather Resistance,

Absorbency, Dimensional Stability, System Life


Life Cycle Thinking

The EPA Forum sessions covered key challenges and opportunities to expand the use of life cycle thinking to achieve sustainable materials management (SMM) goals in the built environment – from project design and construction to end-of-life management and next-life markets.

Breakout sessions allowed for interactive discussion to identify potential solutions and next steps for to work across public and private sectors including building owners, architects, specifiers, material manufacturers and recyclers.

What is Sustainable Materials Management?

                     (click to enlarge)

Source: Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead, EPA (2009

Methods to assess the environmental impacts of resource use throughout the life cycle of materials and the products that embody them were discussed. The need for providing industry-level and material-specific information to indicate opportunities for improved performance and efficiency gains in production and consumption processes was acknowledged.

Developing compatible databases for key materials and substances, including critical raw materials, environmentally harmful substances and substances that play a role in global biogeochemical cycles.

Challenges in Life Cycle Thinking for Adhesives and Sealants

According to the EPA, within the United States alone, billions of tons of concrete, steel, and wallboard will be required to construct, maintain, and operate our nation’s built environment resulting in substantial economic costs. As competition for natural resources continues to intensify due to global population and economic growth, the availability of materials will be subject to increased uncertainty and increasing concern. Resource conservation is paramount to the EPA.


Sustainable Management of Materials in the Built Environment Key principles for ASC members to consider:

Life cycle thinking and material depletion as related to this Forum was focused on depletion of non-renewable raw materials and related waste streams.

Although early adhesives and sealants were formulated with natural products, the evolution of chemistries and synthetic polymers is challenged as “oil” based technology. However, these enhanced formulations also deliver increased functional performance.

Discussion about pressures from current environment and sustainability advocacy for material transparency and optimization, are being advanced by various “Green” building certification programs and product labeling with great focus on hazards of materials.

A great example of lifecycle thinking is the effort between industry, ASC and ASTM who all recognized the need to quantitatively determine the extent and causes of cracking in a building sealant. The result is ASTM C1851 – 18 Standard Practice for Determining the Extent of Cracking in a Sealant using the Difference between the Compressive and Tensile Modulus.

The standard development stemmed from the idea that sealant cracks contribute to tensile modulus (stiffness) change but not to compression. After measuring both using a standard for measuring time-dependent modulus of sealants (C1735), it is now possible to use ASTM C1851-18 to see how much of the change is due to chemical changes in the sealant and how much is physical cracking.

Manufacturers could use the new standard to determine and ultimately enhance durability and lifecycle performance


Material/Buildings Health Related Forum Discussion

Hazards-only assessment is a misrepresentation of a materials human health impacts. Hazard and Exposure assessment is needed to balance “Risk Assessment”. The challenge in “risk assessment” is a lack of reliable and comprehensive data sets. ASC participation on this data is critical.

Part of this discussion also has to be about “trade-offs”. A water based adhesive or sealant may meet environmentally desirable functional performance but for what lifecycle? Focus on what predicted damages and risks are acceptable as the price to pay for what environmental benefits. As an example, more frequent maintenance requirements and related environmental impacts as well as other unintended consequences may be incurred.


Working on common goals was a Forum Theme

Chemical manufacturing companies and design firms have the potential for collaboration by working together on projects that use the latest science to create innovative technologies and materials.

A great example of making sure the right adhesives and sealants are specified is the ASC Vendor Select Tool. The tool is an efficient way for a user to find a particular chemistry type that is typically used in a market segment divided by adhesives and sealants for finished goods. The tool can also be used to find typical raw material types, as well as equipment. 

As related to the “Built Environment” Whole System Impact Closed Loop vs. Open Loop Control Quality, Safety was addressed in the Off-Site Constructions session.


Client (Owner) Expectations presented by AIA

Based on a presentation by the AIA, owners plan to include sustainable attributes in future projects

Notice ranking of healthy Buildings.

(click to enlarge)


Embodied Carbon

This was another topic of interest at the Forum and should be of significant interest to ASC members

Defining Embodied Carbon: Embodied carbon includes the carbon dioxide emitted from the extraction of raw materials through the final manufacture of a product. 

A building’s embodied carbon encompasses the embodied carbon of all its materials, as well as carbon emissions from transportation of those materials to the building site.

This effort is supported by organizations that certify carbon reduction such as CDP – The Carbon Disclosure Project and others such as acknowledged by “Green” rating system certifications.

California Law regarding material embodied carbon

The Forum also featured Charleen Fain-Keslar, Standards & Quality Control manager – Chief Engineering Branch, managed by California Government, speak about California’s B-262 Public contracts: bid specifications: Buy Clean California Act.

The bill prohibits a successful bidder from installing any eligible materials on an eligible project until that bidder submits an Environmental Product Declaration to the awarding authority for that project. Each product’s PCR must follow the principles and framework established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which sets industrial standards worldwide.

AB 262 will deploy California’s substantial purchasing power to buy materials, including structural steel, carbon steel rebar, concrete, flat glass, “mineral wool” insulation, brass and iron pipes and pipe fittings, and certain types of large steel pipes; produced by manufacturers who have invested in reducing emissions during the manufacturing process.

At this time Adhesives and Sealants are not listed, but as I have written about this in previous blogs, this will require monitoring and appropriate actions by ASC leadership.


Sustainable Management of Materials in Off-Site Construction

This was another hot breakout session at the Forum. John Erb from NRB spoke about the trends and benefits of Off-Site Construction. I attended this session and brought in discussion on the National Institute of Building Sciences – Off-Site Construction Council. The EPA was clearly not informed on this effort

Environmental and Sustainability benefits included:

  • Health & Safety
  • A “Greener” process
  • Waste avoidance upstream through more efficient processes
  • Reduced On-Site disturbances and pollution
  • Reduced GHG impacted from transporting individual materials to job site
  • Higher quality control/assurance in a controlled environment
  • Waste management efficiency during manufacturing
  • Possible outlet on unused building materials


Challenges of Off-Site Construction

  • Disruption of business as usual construction practices
  • Lifecycle Costing is not an option
  • How to incorporate Union labor
  • Hybrid specifications utilizing CSI UniFormat and MasterFormat at different phases of the project
  • Who is reviewing specification to deliver intended functional performance and outcome
  • Details in intersecting elements
  • Changing role of Contractors responsibilities
  • Adjustment to get Code Approvals of Off-Site Assemblies
  • Workforce development for Off-Site production and assembly of systems at the job site


Specifying Sustainably Managed Materials

Lisa Goodwin and I led a session of how to specifying sustainably managed materials

Key areas discussed included:

  • CSI Sustainability Material evaluation & life-cycle considerations
    • Advantages
    • Available information for specifiers
    • Catalog and sample maintenance program
    • Characteristics and uses
    • Code compliance/standards conformance
    • Comparison with competitive products
    • Delivery time
    • Design rationale
    • Environmental/Energy concerns
    • Expected useful life
    • How product is manufactured and
    • raw materials contained
    • Initial Costs
    • Installation methods and installer requirements
    • Interface with other products


GreenFormat was mentioned as a good reference on the kinds of information for consideration by a design team and manufacturers.

ASTM E 2129 - Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products


Other areas of specification that were discussed included:

  • Steps in Specifying for LEED Certification
  • Incorporating LEED Requirements Into Bidding And Contract Documents
  • Who handles Approvals and Verification of Functional Performance, Compliance and LEED requirements
  • How does sustainability and life-cycle impact manufacturers specifications
  • CSI ‘ Sustainable Design and Construction Practice Guide provides best practices for project delivery and methods as related to sustainable design and lifecycle


What This all Means to the Adhesive & Sealant Industry:

One critical observation to this entire Forum was a lack of discussion on integrating Functional Performance with sustainably managed materials.

In spite of many Federal regulations being relaxed, the EPA has a vested interest in keeping this discussion on Sustainably Managed Materials ongoing. They are aided by advocates from “Green” rating certifications and product labeling. As shown in the AIA graph, healthy buildings are second on owners list right after energy efficiency.

Issues such as EPDs& related PCRs, Multiple attribute reporting, material transparency and optimization are not going away.


What is Critical with Customers

I come back to the importance of Environment Management Systems (EMS) be it ISO or other, and Continuous Improvement programs. Have discussions with clients about your Sustainably Managed Materials programs. Keep customers up to date on your programs and improvements. They want to know.

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