The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protects human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. We help the domestic manufacturing industry stay compliant with new EPA standards and support the sustainable manufacturing community with resources and the creation of new design tools.


Lisa Stobierski
Senior Program Manager, Sustainability Site Director, EPA Compliance Assistance Centers

The National Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center

The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF), and the AESF Foundation launched the Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center (STERC), previously known as the National Metal Finishing Resource Center (NMFRC) in 2017.  STERC is the result of a new partnership among these organizations and continued grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and provides a wealth of useful environmental compliance information to the surface finishing and surface treatment industry.  The new site can be accessed at


Compliance Assistance Centers

The Compliance Assistance Centers (CACs) program is one of our best known and longest- standing sustainability initiatives. The CACs are independent, industry-specific websites that provide key environmental compliance and best management practices information to help users understand environmental regulations at both the Federal and State levels.

NCMS developed and currently manages 12 CACs and 26 State Resource Locators (SRLs). The CACs and SRLs are funded through EPA grants and other sources. Each CAC covers a key industry sector, including construction, paints and coatings, transportation, metal finishing, healthcare and many others.

Some CACs have been online for more than 15 years, providing guidance, information, access to regulations and forms, and community for stakeholders in these sectors. Many of the NCMS CACs offer Ask-the-Expert assistance, FAQs, technical libraries, compliance assistance tools and calculators, and on-line training.  The service is free.

Sustainable Product Design and Manufacturing Tools

Enormous potential opportunities and payoffs exist when life cycle thinking is consistently applied by manufacturers, both in business terms and in technology development; but requires the materials industries, manufacturers and stake-holders to re-think product design, analyses and material selection strategies.

NCMS, in cooperation with EPA, DOE and multiple industry stakeholders, has developed several unique sustainability assessment tools to assist product and manufacturing design engineers.  These online tools and guides help users assess and minimize the environmental impacts of products through their entire product lifecycle (design to end-of-life disposal) based on the raw materials, and their related manufacturing processes, chosen early in the design stage.

Remanufacturing Assessment Tool (RAT)

Developed by the Rochester Institute of Technology under an NCMS award, this tool helps users identify candidate parts for remanufacturing based on sustainability and cost justification criteria and determine if a product concept should consider key design criteria and best practices that facilitate remanufacturing.

The Remanufacturing Assessment Tool helps users determine if a product concept should consider design criteria and best practices that facilitate remanufacturing.  Basic questions, which are derived from common traits of remanufacturable products, guide the user through the technical and cost assessment process.  The results of the assessment are then summarized for the user to review.

Acknowledgement: This tool was developed under NCMS subcontract to Rochester Institute of Technology from EPA Grant # X1-83224201-3.

Disclaimer of Liability: With respect to the documents, tools and other information contained herein, neither the United States Government nor the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Use of the calculator spreadsheets contained herein requires that certain foundational assumptions be furnished, and the assumptions currently selected may not be appropriate for your particular situation.

Sustainability Standards Guide (SSG)

An online guide authored by leading experts, describing the collaborative processes and best practices for writing and promulgating multi-attribute sustainability standards for attaining triple bottom line benefits. Supported by case studies, this is an ideal starting point for organizations in emergent technologies to consider sustainability.

The Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center (STERC) provides useful environmental compliance information to the surface finishing and surface treatment industry. STERC is the result of a partnership with NCMS, the AESF Foundation and National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) initiated in 2016 and through continued grant funding from EPA.

STERC will continue to include easy-to-follow regulatory overviews, tips on how to comply, best practice solutions that can help the environment while saving companies money, and links to other useful resources.

STERC now offers even more with expanded menu options, an expanded library (with free access to NASF members), an expanded “Ask the Experts” section, combined training and education products from NCMS and the AESF Foundation, highlights of pending new rules and compliance deadlines, and links to upcoming NASF/AESF events among other planned features.