EPD! EPD! Demystify it!

EPD! EPD! Demystify it!

Environmentally responsible, sustainably sourced, and built to last.

Green building emphasizes resource efficiency throughout a building’s life cycle: from day one of the planning stage to demolition day.

The green building concept, which preceded LEED, presents a realistic view of global resource limitation. It lays the groundwork for a healthy approach to urban planning by encouraging environmentally friendly practices. In a collective effort to mitigate negative environmental repercussions, green building concepts regarding the use of energy, water, and specific building materials prioritize efficient resource utilization. In the process, green building has become one of the most widely accepted concepts of modern building practice.

Here are some key features of green building:

  • Use of recycled/recyclable building materials
  • Implementation of renewable energy and water recycling/reclamation
  • Strategic choice of building envelope materials
  • Little to no disturbance of exterior landscape & building site
  • Adherence to LEED standards

What’s All This About an EPD?

In an earlier post, we discussed LEED certification standards and the recent introduction of the LEED v4 initiative, which offers a flexible, performance-based approach to measure a product’s life cycle.

LEED v4 is now encouraging suppliers to disclose product information independently of how effectively those products measure up. The integration of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) into new LEED certification standards is probably the main reason why you’ve been hearing so much about them lately. The concept of an EPD focuses on providing transparent information on a product’s direct and indirect environmental impact.

Essentially, an EPD consists of verified documentation that communicates potentially comparable information about the life cycle environmental impacts of products. It is one of the most reliable documents when it comes to environmental footprint communication.

Regarding business to consumer communication, third party verification is mandatory for EPDs, According to ISO 14025, and optional for business to business EPD communication.

This comprehensive written report is meant to aid the consumer in making a more educated buying decision by providing information on the following:

  • Global warming potential
  • Smog creation
  • Ozone depletion
  • Water pollution

As well as several other metrics.

Mainly intended as a disclosure tool, EPDs help outline a product’s specific sustainable qualities and environmental repercussions.

Where can you find published EPDs? For North American products, published EPDs can be found:

  • On Program Operator websites
  • On sustainable products databases
  • On manufacturers’ websites

A Day in The Life

Because an EPD is communicating life cycle assessment results, it goes without saying that only after a product life cycle assessment (LCA) is conducted can an EPD be developed.

GDRC defines life cycle as “Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product or service system, from the extraction of natural resources to the final disposal.”

A life cycle assessment (LCA) attempts to assess potential environmental impact of a product or service through looking at relevant input vs. output and analyzing the results of inventory and impact stages in the process. This assessment discloses pertinent information on sourcing and transportation of raw materials, the manufacturing process of these materials, construction and installation processes, the maintenance and repair of products, as well as the disposal or recycling of the product at the end of its useful life.

Less than seven years ago, LCAs and EPDs were rarely discussed in the larger conversation on building evaluation methods in North America, although they were mainstream concepts in areas of Asia and the EU. Now, these tools have become the evaluation benchmark as they provide a streamlined avenue for green building design.

Why should you get an EPD?

Building projects striving for LEED v4 are just one significant beneficiary of EPD utilization. By using products that publish these declarations, these building projects can gain points towards the certification.

For building products manufacturers, ATS, in collaboration with Vertima*, can develop the documentation you need to position yourself on the green building market, more specifically LEED® v4 from the US Green Building Council. Our professionals can prepare the environmental product declaration in accordance with ISO 14025:2006.

For architects & LEED Professionals, ATS offers a Continuing Education course Online: Shining Light on EPDs – Comparing the Environmental Performance of Building Products  developed in collaboration with Vertima*.   The presentation is divided into 6 modules: What an EPD is, different Interpretations of EPDs, used as a tool for comparison in Module 3, and Pros and Cons of EPDs comparison.  The course is valid for  1 AIA HSW credits as well as 1 USGBC/GBCI, 1 LEED SPECIFIC BD+C, LEED ID+C and LEED GA.

Online course, self-paced CEU’s, and webinars that include access to AIA CEU, Architect, AIA, HSW, GBCI, and LEED Credits, as well as ADA/Barrier-Free CE’s are all available at America Training Solutions.

*Vertima is an independent third party that develops, audits and certifies Environmental Data Sheets for product manufacturers.