Sustainability

Environmental Product Declarations

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document that provides information about the environmental impact of a construction product through its life cycle from extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transport to and installation on a construction site, through repair and maintenance to end of life and waste management.

It is a document produced by or on behalf of a construction product manufacturer or group of manufacturers.

EPD are the main source of information about construction products required for input to Whole Life Carbon Assessments (WLCA) of buildings and infrastructure projects.

The EPD is an output of a life cycle assessment methodology (LCA) which assesses the impact against a range of environmental indicators. One of these indicators is impact on global warming potential or more commonly called embodied carbon.

It is important to understand that an EPD does not measure carbon content which is a measurement of mass, it assesses through LCA the impact of the product through the construction lifecycle.

The LCA methodology used to produce an EPD is the European Standard, EN 15804 which sets out the Product Category Rules for the development of EPD for construction products, to ensure that all types of construction products are assessed consistently using the same methodology and approaches. EN 15804 was first published in 2012 and amended in 2019. Life cycle assessment experts have refined the concepts and methodology over the years. The BSI convenes the UK Committee that contributes to and comments on the development of the European standard.

Also, an EPD is not a certificate of goodness (so is not the same concept as an organic label), instead an EPD is a set of data that must be plugged into a building / infrastructure level WLCA assessment.

The CPA has produced a series of short Briefing Papers to explore all aspects of EPD – from a basic understanding through to more technical detail.

The CPA would like to thank especially the contribution to these Briefing Papers of the expertise of Dr Jane Anderson and Chris Foster.

Jane Anderson is Chair of BSI’s B/558 Committee which is responsible in the UK for developing and commenting on the CEN TC 350 suite of standards which includes the methodology for preparing and reporting an EPD.

Chris Foster is Chair of BSI’s SES/1/5 Committee which is responsible in the UK for developing and commenting on the ISO Life Cycle Assessment standards.

For more information, please contact Jane Thornback.

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ConstructionLCA has produced a helpful infographic on Environmental Product Declarations. 

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