An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a third-party verified document based on the ISO 14025 standard. It summarizes a product’s environmental data as analyzed through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product, based on category-specific standards. The EPD should not be considered a comprehensive environmental evaluation tool, as its scope is limited. But it is useful for considering the key impact categories of energy use, global warming potential, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication and smog.
EPDs can only be created for product types that have a Product Category Rule (PCR). Since PCRs do not yet exist for all products, product types which can have EPDs are limited but expanding.
How Can We Use the EPD?
EPDs help us understand some cradle-to-grave impacts on the environment resulting from a product’s production, transportation, installation and disposal. EPDs present these impacts in quantifiable terms enabling comparison between products. Currently, comparing similar EPD products are difficult because EPD providers use different formats to present information, and reports can be quite lengthy. For this reason, a standard EPD Quicksheet is in development by CannonDesign and Architecture 2030.
Product options can be evaluated using the information presented in an EPD, along with considerations not included in EPDs, such as human health, social sustainability, technical performance and cost.
EPD and LEEDv4
The LEEDv4 credit ‘Building product disclosure and optimization – environmental product declarations’ rewards product selection which have compliant EPDs. Compliant EPDs are third-party certifications with external verification; conform to ISO 14025, 14040, 14044, and EN 15804 or ISO 21930; and have at least a cradle-to-gate scope.
EPD and LCA
Per the US EPA, LCA is a technique to assess the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process or service by:
• Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases
• Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases
• Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision
Study of raw material acquisition, materials manufacture, production, use/reuse/maintenance and waste management are included in the LCA process.
LCA does not take in to account technical performance, cost, political or social criteria. LCA is the analysis necessary to build an environmental product declaration.