The EPD® (Environmental Product Declaration) is a documentation that contains information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. It provides a clear and complete report of the environmental impact of the construction products. EPDs are the summary of the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), which is a study of all environmental impacts of a product across its life.
It is important to emphasize that the products that have an EPD are not environmentally superior than others that do not have it. It only shows a clear declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.
There are different types of EPDs, due to the different market demands. The most common type of EPD is the Single-company EPD, which is based on a Product Category Rule (which sets the standard for EPDs) and describes the life-cycle environmental impact of the products from a single company. The following types of EPDs are offered in addition to the Single-company EPD.
Single-issue EPD (e.g. Climate Declarations):
It is possible to adapt the information given to specific user needs by applying the concept of “Single-issue EPDs,” which focus on a single environmental impact category. The most popular single-issue EPD is the Climate Declaration, which declares only the carbon footprint of the product.
The Climate Declaration describes the emissions of greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide CO2 equivalents for a product’s life cycle.
It is based on LCA. The single-issue informs on how to know the full environmental impact from the declared product. It should include this statement: “This single issue EPD® only addresses one impact category and does not assess other potential social, economic and environmental impacts arising from the provision of this product.”
Sector EPD allows to adapt the information given to industry needs and marked applications. The Sector EPD declares the average product of multiple companies in a defined sector or a specific geographical area. In the EN 15804, the Sector EPD is referred to as Average EPD. Recently, there is an interest in describing the average performance of Extended Industrial Systems from the same sector in terms of consumption of energy, wastes, raw materials and emissions to the environment.
Within this context, an Extended Industrial System is one that starts with raw materials and traces all industrial, transport and consumer operations until final disposal of the product at the end of its life and is referred as cradle-to-grave.
The Sector EPD is needed because of the necessity of publishing data about the environmental content of the average product/process by an involvement of a suitable sample of sites.
In the Sector EPDs, the product information should state that the document covers average values for an entire or partial product category and also include a list of the contributing manufacturers.
As an initial step to declare environmental information of the product, the International EPD System has the possibility for pre-certification of EPDs.
A Pre-certification is not valid in case of expired PCR for a product category. It is a general idea for the EPD System being valid for single-issue EPDs, Sector EPDs and EPDs. A Pre-certification possibly can early inform the market about the environmental performance of the product.
The following requirements should apply for a Pre-certification:
- The underlying LCA data should be collected and calculated in accordance with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 and meeting the requirements set out in the General Programme Instructions, Annex A. Deviations from the general requirements shall be justified and stated in the pre-certified EPD;
- The EPD format and contents shall comply with the requirements laid down in the General Programme Instructions;
- Examination and review of the results from the LCA study and the declaration shall be carried out by a recognized individual verifier or accredited certification body;
- Relevant parties, e.g. trade associations and interest organizations, shall be informed about the pre-certification, if found appropriate.
The Pre-certified EPDs are valid only for a period of one year and cannot be renewed.
Watch an illustrated explanation about EPDs below.
Examples of EPD: