Prepared to meet requirements for digital environmental data

With the upcoming changes in EU regulations that are expected to set stricter requirements for provision and use of digital environmental data in construction, industry stakeholders are looking at their digital strategies to prepare for the future. The Norwegian manufacturer Pipelife Norway is among those who have already digitised their environmental product data.

“Making digital data about the technical and environmental performance of products available to both authorities and industry players is the main goal of the upcoming requirement for digital product passports, which is part of the ongoing revision of EU’s Construction Products Regulation”, says Knut Jøssang, Manager Digital Built Environment at Pipelife Norway.

The Norwegian pipe manufacturer has been working on structuring their product data for several years. Now, the company has digitised their environmental product declarations (EPDs) and is ready to deliver environmental data in a standardised and interoperable format.

Knut Jøssang, Manager Digital Built Environment at Pipelife Norway

Digitalisation enables efficient use of environmental data

“The environmental product declaration in PDF format is not particularly user-friendly. It is a complicated document, often 8-10 pages long, containing many abbreviations and a very large number of environmental indicators, in addition to a lot of other information. All sustainability initiatives in recent years and the upcoming regulatory requirements clearly indicate that there is a need to make EPD information available to a wider non-expert audience and ensure that it is used timely and correctly”, says Jøssang.

He points out that environmental data from EPDs is not the only information that is needed to make informed choices about products. Environmental performance must often be considered in conjunction with technical characteristics and price to ensure compliance with all project requirements.

Huge potential in construction digital product passports

As Head of the Product Domain in buildingSMART Norway, where Norwegian industry actors share knowledge and experience about their digitialisation efforts, new technologies and BIM standards, Jøssang is passionate about the industry being able to take the next steps to achieve seamless digital collaboration.

“Free information flow and collaboration are only possible through a common digital language. Up until now, there have been many different digitalisation initiatives in the industry, and this has created some confusion in the market. The ongoing work on the revision of EU’s Construction Products Regulation and the upcoming requirement for digital product passports shows that authorities are looking at regulating the use and sharing of product data in a digital format. This implies a certain level of standardisation when it comes to those requirements”, says Jøssang.

Streamlined processes for managing environmental requirements

In April 2022, the international standardisation body ISO published the standard ISO 22057 that enables the use and availability of environmental data sourced from environmental product declarations (EPDs) in Building Information Modelling (BIM).

“Today, carbon footprint calculations and life cycle assessment studies (LCA) are becoming an integral part of project requirements. This is why there is a need for common processes and a common machine-readable language. I encourage all manufacturers to use BIM standards when digitising product data, both technical and environmental characteristics. This is the only way to achieve more efficient processes for handling complex project requirements and making well-informed decisions when it comes to choosing products”, says Knut Jøssang.

He hopes more people will follow Pipelife Norway’s example. Through the work they have already done to digitise their product data, the manufacturer is well prepared to deliver the basis for digital product passports.

Pipelife Norway is the biggest manufacturer of plastic pipe systems in Norway and part of Pipelife Group – a leading supplier of piping system solutions for infrastructure, buildings and agriculture

A practical approach

Pipelife has invested in a long-term digitalisation strategy ensuring that the work they do today can be used in the years to come. It was therefore important to be able to implement all relevant standards for creating and managing data in building information modelling.

“In the past 5 years, we have been collaborating with Cobuilder to digitise our data. We are happy to have found a partner that offers a practical approach, and like us, strongly believes that standardisation is the right approach to resolve the issues that the industry has been struggling with in its digitalisation efforts”, says Jøssang.

In addition to Cobuilder’s solution Supply, Pipelife Norway uses the tool Define, which provides access to national and international data dictionaries developed in line with all relevant BIM standards. Based on the already available content in the data dictionaries, Pipelife Norway has created their own data templates that are adapted to their specific information needs. Standardisation of the data enables API integration and seamless distribution to various systems, among others LCA and BIM tools.

The manufacturer’s digital product data is available on their website and in Collaborate, Cobuilder’s system for collection of product data and documentation that clients and contractors use to create digital logbooks in projects.

Read more about the ongoing work on the revision of the Construction Product Regulation.