faceboo Everything you need to know about EPD – A comprehensive guide

Everything You Need To Know About Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

May 30, 2024
Last updated on June 03, 2024

In today's environmentally conscious world, buyers and specifiers are increasingly demanding transparency when it comes to the environmental impact of products. To meet this demand, manufacturers are turning to Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). These certifications provide a credible and universally understood way to disclose the environmental footprint of products. In this blog, we will cover what is an EPD, what it entails, its importance, and how EPDs are revolutionizing industries globally.

What is an EPD?

At its core, an Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is a comprehensive document that discloses the environmental performance of a product throughout its entire life cycle. It is like a report card for a product's environmental impact. EPDs are rooted in the ISO 14025 norm, which designates them as Type III environmental declarations, commonly referred to as Type III EPDs.

An EPD relies on the scientific methodology known as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Its primary objective is to educate and communicate with stakeholders regarding a product's environmental impact. Consequently, companies frequently employ EPDs for commercial purposes. Typically, EPDs are provided by the product manufacturer and must undergo validation by an independent expert.

                   

What exactly does an EPD include?

An EPD typically contains the following key information:

  • Product Description: Details about the product, including its name, composition, and intended use.
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): An in-depth analysis of the product's environmental impact from cradle to grave, covering aspects like resource extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal.
  • Environmental Indicators: Data on various environmental impacts, including carbon emissions, energy consumption, water usage, and more.
  • Product Category Rule (PCR): The specific rules and guidelines used to calculate and report the product's environmental data.
  • Third-party Verification: EPDs are often independently verified to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Why EPD is important? What is it used for?

EPDs serve multiple vital purposes:

  • Informed Decision-Making: They help consumers, architects, and builders make informed choices by providing transparent environmental data.
  • Sustainability Certifications: EPDs are essential for achieving green building certifications, which are becoming the standard for sustainable construction.
  • Product Improvement: Manufacturers use EPDs to identify areas where they can reduce environmental impact, driving innovation.

What is driving demand for EPDs?

Several factors are driving the growing demand for EPDs:

Environmental Awareness: As people become more environmentally conscious, there's a greater emphasis on choosing sustainable products.

Regulatory Requirements: Many countries and regions have introduced regulations that require EPDs for specific product categories.

Green Building Certifications: EPDs help in achieving additional points in the green building certifications like LEED, IGBC and BREEAM.

Corporate Sustainability: Companies are increasingly integrating sustainability into their business strategies, making EPDs a valuable tool for assessing and improving their products.

Business Benefits of EPD

Embracing EPDs can lead to significant business advantages:

  • Competitive Edge: Companies with EPDs stand out in the market as environmentally responsible.
  • Market Access: Some markets require EPDs for product entry and expanding business opportunities. (Name one or two markets)
  • Risk Mitigation: Understanding and addressing environmental impacts can reduce business risks.
  • Innovation: EPDs guide product improvements, fostering innovation.

What is Product Category Rule in an EPD ?

A Product Category Rule (PCR) is a set of specific guidelines and rules that dictate how EPDs should be developed and what environmental impacts should be assessed for a particular product category. PCRs ensure consistency and comparability among EPDs within the same product category.

What is the difference between EPD and LCA?

EPDs and LCAs are closely related but serve different purposes:

EPD: An EPD is a document that communicates the environmental impact of a product to stakeholders in a standardized format.

LCA: An LCA is a comprehensive study that quantifies the environmental impacts of a product throughout its entire life cycle.

For example, let's consider a comparison:

EPD: Imagine you're buying a car, and the EPD provides a simple label showing the car's carbon emissions, energy efficiency, and other environmental data.

LCA: The LCA would involve an extensive study that tracks the car's impact from the extraction of raw materials (e.g., mining for metal), through manufacturing, transportation, use, and eventual disposal.

EPD differences in various countries

EPDs may vary from country to country due to regional regulations and priorities. For instance, an EPD for a building material in India may emphasize different environmental aspects compared to one in the United States. It's essential to consider local regulations and priorities when developing EPDs for global markets.

Also, despite international cooperation, certain countries, like The Netherlands, impose additional EPD requirements beyond the EN15804 standard. These additional requirements may include the incorporation of LCA impact indicators such as toxicity, variations in certification procedures, and distinct lists of certified reviewers.

Detailed step-by-step process on how to create an EPD

Creating an EPD involves several key steps:

  • Identify the Product: Determine the product for which you want to create an EPD.
  • Select a Product Category Rule (PCR): Choose the appropriate PCR that matches your product category.
  • Gather Data: Collect data on the product's entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to disposal.
  • Conduct LCA: Perform a Life Cycle Assessment to assess environmental impacts.
  • Develop the EPD: Prepare the EPD document according to the selected PCR guidelines.
  • Third-party Verification: Have the EPD independently verified to ensure data accuracy.
  • Publish and Distribute: Share the EPD with stakeholders, making it easily accessible.

Why is third-party verification important?

Third-party verification adds credibility to EPDs. It ensures that the data presented in the EPD is accurate and unbiased. Manufacturers can't simply make inflated claims about their product’s environmental performance; third-party verification holds them accountable.

It involves an independent third party assessing the EPD's compliance with the chosen PCR and verifying that the LCA data and calculations are accurate.

Why Saint-Gobain?

We are the world's first glass producer to conduct LCAs and have a substantial number of EPDs available in the market. In India, we have the EPDs for Planilux, SGG Parsol, Magnetron-coated glass on SGG Planilux, and Magnetron-coated glass on SGG Parsol. Saint-Gobain is the first glass manufacturer in India to produce low carbon glass, which has 40% lesser carbon emissions.

Saint-Gobain's commitment to sustainability is evident through:

  • Transparency: We provide Environmental Product Declarations(EPDs) that explain the environmental impact of our products comprehensively.
  • Compliance: Our EPDs adhere to international standards (EN 15804 and ISO 14025) and undergo third-party verification for accuracy and reliability.
  • Supporting Green Building: We extend assistance to our customers seeking green building certifications like LEED, BREEAM, and DGNB.
  • Innovation: Our focus on LCA and EPDs enables us to identify strengths and areas for improvement, driving innovation.

Conclusion

In a world where sustainability matters more than ever, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) have become indispensable tools. They empower consumers, guide manufacturers towards greener practices, and play a significant role in achieving sustainable building certifications. As we move towards a more environmentally conscious future, EPDs will continue to shape industries and drive positive change.

Frequently Asked Questions

What data is collected to develop LCA ?

An LCA collects data on various stages of a product's life cycle, including resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal. This data covers energy consumption, water usage, emissions, and other environmental impacts.

What is EPD?

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a standardized document that provides transparent information about the environmental performance of a product, based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

I am a manufacturer and would like to get an EPD for my product(s). How do I get started?

To start, you'll need to identify the product, select a relevant Product Category Rule (PCR), gather LCA data, conduct the LCA, and develop the EPD according to the chosen PCR. Third-party verification is essential for credibility.

Is it right that "No EPD without an LCA"?

Absolutely! EPDs are intricately linked to Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs). An LCA is the foundation upon which an EPD is built. Without a thorough LCA, it's impossible to generate a credible EPD. LCAs are conducted to understand the environmental impacts of a product throughout its life cycle, providing the necessary data for EPD creation.

How does LCA become an EPD?

An LCA becomes an EPD when the LCA data is used to create a standardized document that communicates the product's environmental impact. This document must adhere to specific PCR guidelines.

What are the different types of EPD?

There are three types of EPDs: Type I, Type II, and Type III. Type III EPDs are the most comprehensive, providing detailed information on a product's environmental impact.

How long is EPD typically valid for?

EPD validity can vary but is typically five years. It's essential to update EPDs regularly to reflect changes in product composition or manufacturing processes.

How does EPD relate to building assessment schemes, such as BREEAM?

EPDs play a critical role in building assessment schemes like BREEAM by providing data that helps determine a building's environmental impact and sustainability level.

What does EPD measure?

EPDs measure various environmental indicators, including Global Warming Potential, Acidification, Eutrophication, Stratospheric Ozone Depletion Potential, Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential, and Abiotic Depletion. These metrics help assess a product's overall environmental impact.

 

 

 

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