An Environmental Product Declaration, EPD®, is a registered document that provides relevant, verified and comparable information about the environmental impact of goods and services. An ISO 14025 compliant EPD is the gold standard to communicate your product or service’s environmental credentials to the market.
With the launch of the Australasian EPD® Programme in late 2014, there has been significant uptake of EPDs in the Australian market. 12 EPDs were registered in 2015 and there are already twice as many the pipeline already for 2015. The Australasian EPD® Programme is aligned with its partner organization, the International EPD® System, to enable a harmonized and efficient platform for global EPD® development and communication – all EPDs registered through the Australasian EPD® Programme are published on the International EPD® System website.
The number of EPDs now published on the International EPD® System website is over 500, from about 150 companies in 27 countries. The majority of EPDs are have been produced for construction products (206) and food and agricultural products (133).
In Australia and New Zealand, EPDs published so far have been exclusively in the construction product sector. The first movers in Australia and New Zealand include Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), BlueScope, Vinidex, Iplex Pipelines (Fletcher Building) and David Trubridge. Companies with EPDs under development and set to be published include, Kingspan and James Hardie.
A recent survey of the owners of EPDs registered through the International EPD® System found the main benefits of producing EPDs were to:
- communicate objective information,
- improve the corporate image, and
- communicate large amounts of environmental information.
EPDs in Green Star rating tools
In Australia, EPDs are being driven by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Green Star rating tools. Noting that there is lack of environmental information available for architects, designers and engineers, the GBCA has made significant efforts to incentivise building product manufacturers to produce and make available EPDs for designers. Green Star now offers credits under the Sustainable Products category in the Design & As Built and Interior rating tools:
The following are available under the Sustainable Products category:
- 3 points are available under Green Star Design & As Built; and
- 19 points are available under Green Star Interiors.
Credit points are awarded based on a Product Sustainability Value (PSV) calculation in which different types of sustainable product initiatives receive a different multiplier. the value of products covered with an EPD relative to the total project contract value – basically, the higher the value of products purchased that are covered with an EPD, the more points awarded. Two EPD types are recognised by Green Star, industry wide EPDs and product specific EPDs:
A product specific EPD reports on specific product(s) from one manufacturer. The products are clearly listed within the EPD. Product specific EPDs have a multiplier of 0.75 in the PSV calculations. Only reused products, products with greater than 75% recycled content, and those with a category A eco-label receive more credit points. An example of a product specific EPD produced by Iplex Pipelines Australia can be found here.
An industry wide EPD is issued by a group of manufacturers of like products. The manufacturers that participated in the EPD are recognised as participants within the EPD. Category wide EPDs can only be accounted for where the relevant manufacturer of the products or materials claimed is listed within the EPD. Industry wide EPDs have a multiplier of 0.5 in the Product Sustainability Value (PSV) calculation. An example of an industry wide EPD produced by Forest & Wood Products Australia can be found here.
Note: For construction products, the internationally accepted and adopted EN 15804 contains specific EPD for rules for this sector, building on the sector generic ISO 14025 standard. The EN 15804 standard belongs to a broader framework of standards for buildings and civil engineering works, as well as economic and social assessments of buildings – in other words, EN 15804 compliance provides the consistency for broad and meaningful use of construction product EPDs.
Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Green Star
There are also 7 points available for whole of building life cycle assessment (LCA) under the Life Cycle Impacts category. EPDs developed under the Australasian EPD® Programme are EN 15804 compliant and use the same reporting metrics as the Green Star whole of building LCAs, which use the EN 15879 standard. These EPDs can therefore be used to represent building elements in a whole of building LCA model. To find out more see our post Get a leg up using whole building LCA. More information can also be found here.