An EPD: The Science Behind Sustainable Materials


Introduction


What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?


Recent legislation such as the Buy Clean California Act and the Federal Inflation Act 2022 has thrust the term EPD into the building material marketplace, but what exactly is an EPD?


An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the lifecycle environmental impact of products. It uses a standardized reporting format, the ISO 14025 standard, to make it easier to compare products. EPDs are based on Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), an internationally recognized methodology under ISO 14040 for quantifying the potential environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product's life, from raw material extraction through production to use and final disposal.


An EPD is an independent, third-party verified, and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the lifecycle environmental impact of products.

For example, it details how a product was made, what materials it's made from, how those materials were sourced, and how the finished product affects the environment during its lifecycle.


EPDs are based on Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), an internationally recognized methodology under ISO 14040 for quantifying the potential environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product's life. There are two main types of LCAs. A cradle-to-grave LCA (and subsequent EPD) cover the product from raw material extraction through production to use and final disposal. A cradle-to-gate LCA/EPD covers the stages of raw material extraction, transportation to the manufacturer, and the manufacturing stage. Packaging is also included because it ends when the products are sitting at the dock, ready to be picked up for shipment to the customer. A detailed LCA study provides information on specific environmental impacts such as CO2 emissions, water consumption, or waste generation over time. It can be used to compare products in critical areas, such as carbon footprint, climate change impact, or resource efficiency.


It uses a standardized reporting format, the ISO 14025 standard, to make it easier to compare products.

The ISO 14025 standard is used to create EPDs, which use a standardized reporting format to make it easier for interested parties to compare products. The LEED program and Buy Clean California also require manufacturers and suppliers to provide their product EPDs. In addition to ISO 14025, a Product Category Rule (PCR) is needed to determine the included inputs and outputs, functional units, and other technical information related to the product's specific market segment.


What is the difference between an EPD and LCA?


EPDs are based on Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), an internationally recognized methodology under ISO 14040 for quantifying the potential environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product's life, from raw material extraction through production to use and final disposal.

The purpose of an EPD is to provide consumers, decision-makers, and other stakeholders with information about how a product will impact the environment during its life cycle. This includes manufacturing processes and post-use considerations such as recycling or disposal.


EPDs provide data such as recycled content, energy consumed during manufacturing, water usage, etc.

  • EPDs provide data such as a product's embodied carbon (GWP), recycled content, energy consumed during manufacturing, water usage, etc.

  • This information can be used to compare products and make informed purchasing decisions.

Conclusion


Since EPDs have been standardized by ISO 14025, they can be used across all industries worldwide, meaning that customers can access information on products from any country when sourcing or procuring materials for their product or project.



Presented by

Denice Viktoria Staaf

LEED AP BD+C, Fitwel Ambassador, EPD & HPD Approved Preparer

ESG Consultant and Circularity Expert

E: dstaaf@labelingsustainability.com



​Environmental Storytelling That Sells

  • LinkedIn