A simple guide to Environmental Product Declarations
What they are, why you need them and how to create them.
What they are and how to create them
An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is a document which transparently communicates the environmental performance or impact of any product or material over its lifetime.
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.
- Architects, engineers and designers are able to choose the most sustainable option for their project.
- Manufacturers are able to optimise the impact of their products and market their carbon transparency.
An EPD is usually valid for five years, and is generated according to the relevant standards. Construction EPDs are based on the ISO 14040/14044, ISO 14025, EN 15804 or ISO 21930 standards.
Business benefits of EPDs
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. There are a number of benefits to creating or using EPDs including:
- Market differentiation: using or creating EPDs will help you to differentiate your product or your project.
- Regulation and legal requirements: all public procurement bodies in the EU and EEA are required to use EPDs to assess the environmental footprint of products and Belgium requires the use of EPDs if a company is performing any environmental-related marketing.
- Credits and certification: LCA credits are very cost-efficient and easy compared to other credits’ requirements for your building’s certifications and EPDs are also recognized by LEED and BREEAM, among other market-based systems.
How to create an EPD
- Step 1 – Collect data: including raw material, resource consumption and waste data for your product. Your choice of program operator and PCR will determine the specific data you will need to collect, based on which stages of your product life-cycle and which impact categories your LCA will need to assess.
- Step 2 – Conduct a life-cycle assessment: the LCA will need to conform to the PCR.
- Step 3 – Prepare background report for EPD: the background report (known as an LCA report in the US) is a vital accompaniment to your public EPD. It provides further details about the LCA methodology, assumptions and approach employed to support third party verification, as well as the standards that you have adhered to.
- Step 4 – 3rd party verification: every EPD needs to be verified by an independent third party verifier before it can be published. This ensures accuracy, reliability and ensures that the EPD conforms to the requirements of the relevant PCR.
- Step 5 – Publication: Once your EPD has been verified by an independent third party, it is ready to be put into the public domain via publication. To do this, you need to submit the EPD document for publication to the program operator, who will process, register and publish your EPD. If you use the One Click LCA Pre-verified EPD Generator, we will handle this process for you.