What is an EPD?
The environmental product declaration or EPD is a document that provides information on the life-cycle environmental impact of a product. The EPD contains information about different types of environmental impacts such as ozone depletion, acidification of soil and water, depletion of natural resources and energy consumption for each life-cycle stage of the product.
Types of EPDs
Depending on the number of life cycle stages covered there are three types of EPD.
Type 1: “cradle to gate”
The first contains impact values about stages A1 to A3 and is called “cradle to gate”, which means information for the product from the raw material extraction and processing until the end of the manufacturing process.
Type 2: “cradle to gate with options”
The second type of EPD is “cradle to gate with options”, which includes all the information relevant for the first type plus other optional information for the end of life stage such as impacts during demolition and waste disposal stages (C1-C4).
Type 3: “cradle to grave”
The third type of EPD is “cradle to grave” and provides environmental impact information about the complete life-cycle of the product, including installation into the building, maintenance, replacement and end of life stages. Also reuse or recycle value of the product at stage D may be included in any type of EPD.
An EPD is applicable not only to products (such as a door or an air conditioner), but also to various loose substances, entire assemblies of products and even for certain services (like maintenance procedures). With this in mind not all life-cycle stages are always relevant for a product and in such cases they are marked as “not relevant”.
Having an EPD doesn’t mean a product is environmentally friendly
It is also worth mentioning that if a product has an EPD, it does not mean it is environmentally friendly. The document simply provides comparable and transparent information about the environmental performance to various interested parties over the life-cycle of the product. Since it includes information for all life-cycle stages an EPD can serve to improve environmental performance throughout the entire building process.
Why are EPDs important to us?
Environmental product declarations are used to determine the sustainability rating of a building, for example while undergoing assessment for BREEAM certification. Contractors that are required to meet a certain level of environmental performance need such certifications to verify the delivered products on the construction site. They are also used during the handover stage of the building process, to ensure future owners that the used materials are indeed environmentally friendly. Manufacturers are also interested in EPDs, since the use of ECO materials becomes a bigger demand or even mandatory in more and more European countries.
This is why, creating structured data from EPDs has become part of our systems. Through the incorporation of EPDs in both coBuilder Collaborate (previously ProductXchange) and goBIM, their users will be able to specify and document the extent to which each project is specified with environmental friendly products complying with both European legislation and environmental requirements defined by the market.