What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
“Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are a standardised way of providing data about the environmental impacts of a product through the product life cycle” – (EPD Ireland)
In European countries, EPD’s must follow to the European Standard, EN 15804, which ensures that EPDs for construction products and materials use a set methodology, follow a specific set of environmental indicators and have a common reporting system. This means that EPD can be integrated into building level assessments and used to compare construction products across the board.
In EN 15804, the impacts of construction products are modelled over four life cycle stages.
- The product stage (A1-A3) showing the impacts of manufacture and the supply chain from the factory to site.
- The construction stage (A4-A5) showing the impacts of transport and construction on site.
- The use stage (B1-B7) showing the impacts of any emissions in use, maintenance, expected repair or replacement and any energy or water consumed in use.
- The end-of-life stage (C1-C4) showing the impacts of demolition or deconstruction, transport to waste processing and any recovery or disposal processes.
A building product or material with an EPD is not automatically a product with a low environmental impact. An EPD only provides the environmental information about the product which then gives you the tools to discover this by comparing and contrasting to other products of a similar function. Nevertheless, in obtaining an EPD, the manufacturer will receive an EPD Project Report which explains the sources of impacts through the life cycle, which will allow them to consider how they might best reduce them.
How does EPD affect your development?
The carbon footprint of the built environment is under increasing scrutiny. Much debate is ongoing as to which building material is the best to use in terms of its environmental impact, CO2 footprint, etc with a view to selecting the most sustainable and green option. It doesn’t limit to specific sectors as oil extractors, car manufacturers or clothing producers. The building market has a part to play in this transition to a more sustainable world.
As contractors, architects, quantity surveyors and other specifiers, you have a vital role to assume your projects will generate fewer negative impacts on the environment. Within the construction industry, EPDs support carbon emission reduction by making it possible to compare the impacts of different materials and products in order to select the most sustainable option.
EPDs in construction projects and manufacturing are voluntary. However, their use is rapidly growing in line with awareness about environmental impacts. Both public and private stakeholders are increasingly demanding EPDs.
Not only does EPD help specifiers and contractors to meet their client’s sustainability requirements and reduce the environmental impact of the building throughout its life-span, it also assists in achieving green building certifications, such as BREEAM, LEED and WELL which have a whole host of other great benefits and advantages to a development.
Launched in 1990, BREEAM is the world’s first and foremost sustainability standard and rating system for the built environment. On a global level, there are over 540,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and more than two million registered for assessment. Due to its long and pioneering presence in the sector, BREEAM pushes the boundaries of sustainability by aiming for zero carbon. ‘Assessing carbon emissions in BREEAM’, a briefing published in 2016, demonstrated that the average CO2 saving for a BREEAM assessed building is 22%, whilst a BREEAM Excellent building is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 33%.
Did you know?
The 2013 report by the World Green Building Council making the ‘Business case for green building’, suggests that certified green buildings have sale prices increased by up to approximately 30% compared to conventional code-compliant buildings.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary rating system to certify sustainable buildings and communities. Launched by the US Green Building Council in 1998, LEED has been gaining traction around the world in recent years.
As mentioned, EPDs disclose aspects of the product’s environmental impact and are widely used in the green building and construction materials industry. For those who want to earn LEED material credits, selecting materials with EPDs is an easy way to understand the environmental impact of product selections.
Manufacturers, such as Kingscourt Brick are pleased to be asked for, and supply EPDs for their materials. We are proud and confident in the materials we make and the buildings they are used to construct. For more information on Kingscourt Brick’s EPD and the sustainable benefits of using our product, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the team.