What is an EPD?
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) form the data basis for ecological product assessments over the entire life cycle of construction products and buildings. Want to compare? There's a sound basis for this!
Ecological footprint, resource allocation, taxation of CO2, recycling, circular economy, conventional products versus green products, sustainability concepts, innovations in process technology, green claim versus greenwashing.
In any case, sustainability goals can only be set and achieved if transparent and measurable data is used as a basis. There are many environmental indicators, and these are evaluated by different bodies.
By quantifying environmental impacts in EPDs, “trend terms” become comprehensible parameters to help make decisions.
What are Environmental Product Declarations used for?
EPD – Environmental Product Declarations
Compliance with the Construction Products Regulation
EPDs can provide suitable proof of compliance with the Construction Products Regulation (BauPVo, Regulation EU 305/2011) in order to show the indicators required by this.
Quote from the BauPVo: Provision (56) For the assessment of the sustainable use of resources and of the impact of construction works on the environment Environmental Product Declarations should be used when available.
The Construction Products Regulation is due to be revised soon. Basic requirement 7 (sustainability) is to be integrated in the declaration of performance (DOP). Environmental indicators from life cycle assessments will, in any case, be used as a basis.
Compliance with the Taxonomy Regulation
The EU Taxonomy Regulation, which came into force in 2020, is intended to create incentives for making capital flows in the EU more sustainable. Greater transparency and uniformity should remove any doubts investors may have about greenwashing (advertising the environmental friendliness of a financial product without it actually meeting various environmental standards) and build more confidence in the sustainability of their investments.
Buildings (and therefore construction products) are a main focus of real estate investors.
In any case, proof will be provided using common life cycle assessment methods, so EPDs will be required.
Public procurement and building regulations
EPDs are suitable as proof of environmental claims in the public procurement arena. Some countries require EPDs as a best bidder criterion, other countries evaluate them via Type I environmental product labels (Austrian Ecolabel, Blue Angel, natureplus…).
At the building level, EPD data is displayed in the required building life cycle assessments.
In Austria, EPDs provide a data basis for the Salzburg Construction Engineering Ordinance and are part of housing subsidy scenarios.
Building assessment in building certificates
EPDs are used as a basis in the criteria catalogues of all current building assessment schemes (DGNB/ÖGNI, ÖGNB-TQB, klimaaktiv and BNB as well as LEED and BREEAM). Specific data for each manufacturer replaces generic data from the literature – and this improves the data quality considerably. The EU project LEVEL(s) – a building rating tool – also refers to EPDs.
Normierung – Internationale Abstimmung
Umwelt-Produktdeklarationen basieren auf internationalen Normen (Zahlreiche ISO Normen der 14000er Reihe: Umweltmanagement und Ökobilanzierung, CO2-Footprintberechnung, Umweltkommunikation, Verifizierung und Anerkennung von Umweltdaten…).
Für Baustoffe gilt in Europa die EN 15804 als zentrale Berechnungsgrundlage. EPD-Daten werden zunehmend international abgestimmt.
Derartig erstellte und geprüfte Umwelt-Produktdeklarationen bilden die Datengrundlage für die ökologische Gebäudebewertung nach EN 15978-1 „Nachhaltigkeit von Bauwerken – Bewertung der umweltbezogenen Qualität von Gebäuden – Berechnungsmethode“. In Europa stützen sich die meisten Gebäudebewertungsszenarien sowie das EU-Gebäuderating-Tool LEVEL(s) auf diese Norm.
Vermarktung von Bauprodukten, Produktoptimierung, Rechtssicherheit
Umwelt-Produktdeklarationen bieten eine relevante Datengrundlage, um Umwelteigenschaften eines Produktes auf Produktebene und auf Gebäudeebene im Marketing oder Verkauf darzustellen. In immer mehr Ländern wird „grünes Marketing“ an den Nachweis von EPD Daten geknüpft. EPDs untermauern auf glaubhafte Weise Aussagen zur Umweltperformance von Bauprodukten und erleichtern die Umweltkommunikation.
Produktoptimierung leicht gemacht: Wer die Stärken und Schwächen von Produkten im Produktlebenszyklus analysiert, kann an den richtigen Punkten optimieren und so Kosten und Ressourcen einsparen.
Die Verifizierung durch unabhängige Dritte sorgt für Vergleichbarkeit und gibt allen beteiligten Stakeholdern die notwendige Rechtssicherheit.
Types of Environmental Product Declarations
There are 3 different types of declarations:
Type I environmental labels
Type II environmental labels
Type III environmental declarations (e.g. EPDs according to ISO 14025 and EN 15804)
Find out more HERE.
Content of a Type-III Environmental Product Declaration
Environmental Product Declaration, EPD
Most construction products are used together in one “system” – the building. A
Type III declaration for construction products should therefore help to evaluate a whole building.
If the functionality requirements and the framework conditions are the same (time, space, system boundaries, calculation methods, data quality, etc.), EPD data can also be compared at product level.
The declaration makes statements on the use of energy and resources and the extent to which a product contributes to the greenhouse effect, acidification, overfertilisation, destruction of the ozone layer and smog formation, land consumption or other environmental impacts.
In addition, information is provided on technical properties that are needed to assess the performance of the construction product in the building, such as product lifetime, thermal conductivity properties, sound insulation or the influence on indoor air quality.
Resource consumption and emissions to the environment are recorded specifically for each manufacturer throughout the entire manufacturing process (from cradle to gate). Scenarios from the gate (use stage in the building as well as the end-of-life stage (Recycling? Thermal utilisation? Landfill?)) are modelled in the best possible way. The life cycle inventory analysis data of the manufacturers is multiplied by factors to be able to illustrate the known impact categories (e.g. energy consumption is illustrated in CO2 equivalents).
The resulting contribution to the greenhouse effect, overfertilisation or acidification of water bodies can be quantified and evaluated using the life cycle assessment methodology. Life cycle assessments therefore provide a systematic and standardised data basis for creating an ecological assessment of a building from declarations of individual construction products in a “modular system”. A life cycle analysis takes into account the whole life cycle of the building, the construction stage, the use stage with possible conversions as well as demolition and disposal, and it can show the contribution the construction products make to energy efficiency or to other aspects for the sustainable management of a building.
The Type III Environmental Product Declaration, with these quantitative statements on the environmental performance of construction products, is aimed at many recipients:
- Construction companies
- Real estate companies
- Facility managers
And, of course, companies that are involved in the value chain from raw materials to the building (including its demolition) with production and services.
How to create an Environmental Product Declaration
Environmental product declarations from Bau-EPD GmbH are created in a multi-stage process, in which various stakeholders are involved. The aim of this procedure is to create transparency and, through the greatest possible participation of the public and independent third parties, to strengthen trust in the declaration as an objective means of assessing sustainability.
In the first step (if it does not already exist) a draft PCR (product category rule) document will be created in a product group forum consisting of experts and manufacturers and moderated by the expert committee/PCR panel. The product group is defined and the significant environmental impacts are identified. The procedure for quantifying these environmental impacts and the evidence to be provided will be specified for future applicants.
Parallel to the creation of the draft, Bau-EPD GmbH informs the public about the new product group forum in order to allow other interested parties to give input. The draft PCR will be reviewed by the PCR Panel for consistency across product groups and for completeness of manufacturer requirements. In addition, the draft (again under the moderation of the PCR committee) will be discussed with planners, property developers, authorities and other interested parties in a forum. Comments and criticism from third parties are discussed and, if necessary, the draft will be adapted and improved. If a PCR document for the corresponding product group already exists when the application is submitted, then this step can be reduced to looking for necessary updates in the PCR.
In the second step, the actual declaration will be created. For this purpose, all information required in the PCR document is made available by the manufacturer and evidence of the tests carried out is provided. Test procedures and life cycle assessment methods are uniformly regulated in the PCR document.
In the third step, the declaration is verified. Bau-EPD GmbH organizes the verification of the individual declarations by independent third parties who are listed as "independent verifiers". This last case-by-case examination ensures once again the objectivity of the declaration procedure. As the program operator, Bau-EPD GmbH has no influence on the evaluation of the declaration, but only publishes the declarations, which were positively approved by independent verifiers.