Publication Detail

Lessons Learned from Caltrans Pilot Program for Implementation of EPDs


Research Report

UC Pavement Research Center

Available online at:

Suggested Citation:
Butt, Ali A. and John T. Harvey (2021) Lessons Learned from Caltrans Pilot Program for Implementation of EPDs. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-21-42

An environmental product declaration (EPD) is a transparent, verified report used to communicate the environmental impacts (e.g., resource use, energy, emissions) associated with the manufacture or production of construction materials such as asphalt, cement, asphalt mixtures, concrete mixtures, or steel reinforcement. EPDs, which are also called Type III Environmental Declarations, are product labels developed by industry in accordance with International Organization for Standardization standards. The scoping document for an EPD, which is also referred to as a product category rule (PCR), defines the requirements for EPDs for a certain product category. Beginning in 2019, Caltrans initiated a pilot study requiring EPDs for hot mix asphalt, aggregates, and concrete in addition to the materials specified by the Buy Clean California Act (BCCA) (Assembly Bill 262). The requirement to submit EPDs for these materials is how plans made several years prior to passage of the BCCA, for use of EPDs to help achieve environmental goals, are being implemented. While the BCCA considers only the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming, the Caltrans pilot program for pavement and bridge materials also looks for other emissions in the EPDs, primarily emissions that cause air pollution. This project consisted of the University of California Pavement Research Center reviewing and helping develop Caltrans’s plans for collecting EPDs, reviewing PCRs and EPDs for consistency and inconsistencies, helping to communicate strategy with industries and the Federal Highway Administration, supporting Caltrans’s development of a web-based portal for entry of EPD data and the underlying database, and writing of a summary report. This technical memorandum is the summary report. This report documents the roadmaps developed for collecting and using EPDs, other support activities for the Caltrans EPD program, and a review of the EPDs supplied to Caltrans as of the summer of 2020 and their underlying PCRs. The PCRs for the materials in the Caltrans EPD program have inconsistencies that should be relatively simple to resolve with direction from Caltrans. In their current form, consistent data entry is difficult in the Caltrans EPD portal. To improve the consistency and quality of EPDs, Caltrans staff must receive guidance on how to review EPDs, and staff at materials producers require training about how to interpret PCRs to produce EPDs. Systems for inputting data from EPDs into department of transportation (DOT) reporting systems that include data quality checks, system consistency, and certification are also needed. Similarly, a nationally accepted and adopted data quality assessment standard is needed for EPDs as DOTs move toward their use in procurement. A single data quality matrix should also be included in a harmonized PCR.

Key words: environmental product declaration, product category rules, life cycle assessment, pavement materials, cradle-to-gate