EPD & BUILDING-LCA
What is an EPD?
EPDs (Environmental Product Declaration) are sometimes confused by some with various certifications, certificates, or eco-labels, but it is important to note that an EPD is a declaration - i.e., it does not say whether the declared product is good or bad environmentally.
An EPD documents and verifies the environmental performance of a product and contains information about the product's energy and resource consumption, waste generation, and environmental impact from the production of the product, the use and lifetime of the product to the disposal of the product.
In other words, an EPD is a standardised way of describing how much energy was used, how many resources were consumed and how much waste was generated to make the product. In addition, the EPD provides information on the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of the product: the production of the product, the use of the product and the expected future disposal of the product.
It's not useful to make a direct comparison between the EPDs of different products. There are many different factors to consider when deciding which product is the most environmentally friendly for a particular building, such as:
- Frequency and extent of maintenance
- Product lifetime
- Operational requirements
- Architectural expression
and should always be considered in relation to the functions and features described in any tender.
What types of EPDs are available?
Industry EPD: Describes an average for a product type or industry's Global Warming Potential and can be used to calculate building LCA in the early design phase where specific products have not yet been selected - or in cases where a product-specific EPD does not exist.
Product-specific EPD: Describes the Global Warming Potential of a specific product from a specific manufacturer.
Project EPD: Describes the Global Warming Potential of a construction project and should always be based on product-specific EPDs, but includes, e.g., driving to and from a specific construction site in its calculations.
What are the requirements for an EPD?
An EPD is not valid until it has been verified according to the requirements of ISO 14025 by an independent, third-party verifier by reviewing results, documents, and compliance with reference standards, ISO 14025 and ISO 14040/14044, following the process and checklists of the program operator for:
- This Environmental Product Declaration
- The Life-Cycle Assessment used in this EPD
- The digital background data for this EPD
The EPD documents a range of environmental impacts such as global warming, acidification, nutrient loading, but also documents the consumption of resources such as renewable/non-renewable energy, waste streams (the amount of waste disposed of) and materials for energy recovery or recycling.
BROEN Valve Technologies EPDs are all third-party verified by EPD-HUB (link), thereby ensuring that they fulfill the requirements set out in the ISO 14025 and EN 15804 standards.
CO2 requirements for construction within the EU
The built environment is prominent, contributing approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, buildings contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and have the potential for large-scale impact reductions. For this to be achieved, the whole-life carbon impacts of design decisions must be considered during the building design process.
From January 2023, the contractor must document the climate impact of all new construction from construction, operation, and demolition of a building by preparing a life cycle assessment (LCA) for the building. The building's LCA must be available upon notification of completion of the construction to allow the contractor to obtain authorization for use.
The following climate requirements apply:
From 2025, the rules will change again. Gradually decreasing limit values for kg CO2e/m2/year will apply to all new buildings covered by the energy framework, regardless of size.
How are EPDs used in a Building-LCA?
An EPD is the core element of a building life cycle assessment (LCA).
Simply put, LCA helps designers evaluate the environmental consequences of different designs by comparing buildings, materials, or assemblies.
Building certifications such as DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für nachhaltiges Bauen), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), or BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) show how buildings perform in terms of sustainability. Certified buildings will eventually mean long-term value retention for builders and investors, as the assessment of the sustainability of a project depends on the products used, and the incentive to optimize products in terms of sustainability is growing.
As valves are one element of many in a building, even if they only make up part of its ecological footprint, our products can make a contribution to the certification of a building. Water-saving and energy-saving are one of the higher weighted categories. Products with an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) are an advantage in the certification process because they facilitate the ecological assessment for a building as they are transparent in terms of material sustainability.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) within the building design process is an established method for assessing a wide range of environmental impacts focuses on a single issue – global warming potential – which is often termed “carbon footprint”.
How is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) used in the building industry?
- Help building owners /contractors make informed choices regarding sustainability and/or resilience
- Evaluate design options by providing insight into material choices and their environmental impacts
- Achieve green building certification
- Assist in assessing the environmental benefits of new products and/or policy
- State that a system or product is environmentally preferable to another (to make a comparative assertion)
- Compare to benchmarks to evaluate a building’s performance
The results of an LCA can illuminate which parts of a building have particularly high environmental impacts. This type of hotspot analysis can help the design team achieve a more environmentally conscious design. However, any design modification should be evaluated with another round of LCA.