Green building materials are an integral part of the design of sustainable buildings. Therefore, producing reliable and verifiable environmental information is of key importance to manufacturers.
Pressure to monitor environmental performance mounts with net zero targets and deadlines fast approaching. Growing in significance, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are becoming more widely adopted across several European countries. Although they are not currently mandatory in the UK, EPDs are increasingly used alongside building rating schemes such as BREEAM and LEED. Although similar to Life Cycle Assessment’s, EPDs are independently verified. Manufacturers work in conjunction with independent programme operators to ensure unbiased and factual data is provided in line with ISO standards.
Numbers of UK EPDs are up 25% - over 450 compared to over 360 last year.
-Jane Anderson, Owner of ConstructionLCA Limited and independent EPD verifier.
Spanning the entirety of a products lifecycle, EPDs contain all of a product’s relevant environmental information. Generic and product specific EPDs are currently available. Generic EPDs are more suited to smaller manufacturers and are often produced by trade associations and cover all the main construction materials. Product specific EPDs on the other hand relate to a particular product or range created by a single manufacturer. EPDs for construction products tend to be modular. For example, an EPD for cement could be used with an EPD for aggregate to produce an EPD for concrete.
EPD is a must for any Manufacturer and Retailer who is serious about helping the environment, reducing climate change and stopping green washing.
-Keith Ridgeway, CEO Incredible Husk International Group
Within an EPD, information is split into 17 categories which fall under the 5 main stages of a products lifecycle:
Product Development Stage =
- A1 Raw Materials Supply
- A2 Transport
- A3 Manufacturing
- A4 Transport to the site
- A5 Assembly
- B1 Use
- B2 Maintenance
- B3 Repair
- B4 Replacement
- B5 Refurbishment
- B6 Operational energy use
- B7 Operational water use
End of Life Stage
- C1 De-construction demolition
- C2 Transport
- C3 Waste processing
- C4 Disposal
Benefits beyond the System Boundaries
- D Reuse and recycling potential
By gaining a greater understanding of their environmental impact, manufacturers who adopt the use of EPDs can better identify the areas that need most improved. EPDs enable consumers to compare and select products based on how sustainable they are. Therefore, manufacturers with environmentally friendly EPDs will benefit from attracting new sustainability-focused clients, architects and specifiers. Additionally, with EPDs manufacturers can demonstrate and evidence the steps they are taking towards a greener future, and in turn, communicate these with investors.
In the UK, the built environment is responsible for approximately a quarter of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. The decarbonisation of the supply chain will play a key role in lowering these emissions and achieving net-zero targets. As pressure builds on the government to realise these targets, EPD’s may become mandatory in the not-so-distant future.
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recently produced a report titled, “Building to net zero: costing carbon in construction.” Included in the report is a call for the introduction of EPDs-
To limit ‘greenwashing’, the Government should introduce measures requiring suppliers who wish to make an environmental claim about a construction product to produce an EPD to substantiate it.
With demand for transparent, credible environmental information is set to increase further manufacturers will need to pay close attention to the role of EPDs.
Why not check out some of the bimstore manufacturers that are leading the way. Tarmac, Altro, Interface, Kingspan, Knauf Insulation, Rockwool, Superglass Insulation, Xtratherm, Durisol, Tobermore, Hambleside Danelaw each have EPDs for their products which can all be accessed online.
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