In the last few months there have been major advances in the way Australian building products can be assessed and compared for their environmental credentials. Edge Environment have played a significant role in these developments.
To-date, building products and materials have primarily been assessed and promoted with individual environmental claims like “recycled”, “recyclable”, “FSC Certified”, “non-toxic”, “natural”, “renewable”, “low VOC” etc. This approach is too simplistic, often resulting in perverse outcomes that actually increase environmental damage.
To properly assess building products and materials, we must use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
This process assesses a comprehensive range of environmental impacts. It takes account of the whole supply chain and use of the products over their life – from the extraction of raw materials, through all stages of production and transport, through construction, operation, demolition and disposal.
But LCA can go wrong too, if it is not conducted on a “level playing field” basis between competing materials and products.
Over the last 3 years, Edge Environment have managed a major collaboration between the Australian building products industries through the Building Products Innovation Council (BPIC). Together we have developed a “level playing field” methodology for LCA. The work has established a toolkit of freely available LCA resources and data; the Building Products Life Cycle Inventory (BP LCI).
As a result of this work a new generation of LCA-based building design tools, Ecolabels and Environmental Product Declarations are being established. In addition, the Green Building Council of Australia has committed to transitioning its material and product credits to an LCA basis.
How does this affect you?
In a market where the environment and sustainability increasingly matter, the tools are now available to properly assess your products and services.
Use of LCA frequently throws up unexpected results – sometimes good news, sometimes bad:
The good news can be used for scientifically rigorous marketing claims and environmental certifications for suppliers wanting to demonstrate green credentials.
The bad news can become good news as you innovate to mitigate your liabilities (especially if your competitors are not even aware of the liabilities). As you do so, you may also benefit from cost reductions that often go hand in hand with environmental savings.
You can use these tools to gain a significant competitive advantage in your market. In the words of Ian Frame, CEO of BPIC:
“This isn’t the end of the BP LCI project. It’s the beginning of a new era of innovation in more sustainable product development and more sustainable building design which will improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian building products industries”.
Edge Environment are a leading LCA consultancy in Australia. We provide cost-effective LCA services to a wide range of companies, servicing both small and multinational organisations.
We can help you:
- Develop a bespoke LCA tool so you can continually improve your products’ environmental performance.
- Benchmark your product against alternatives in the market place.
- Support your marketing by providing the evidence you need to acquire eco-labels and environmental product decelerations.