Environmental Product Declarations: the future of sustainable construction
10 October 2017
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are increasingly important in the construction industry – especially for architects, builders and specifiers – in meeting the growing requirements relating to the sustainable building process. EPD are a registered and independently verified document that communicates standardised, comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. In brief, it measures the environmental ‘footprint’ of a product.
Providing manufacturers with a means of demonstrating their product’s sustainability credentials, EPD show the results of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), detailing ‘cradle to grave’ environmental impact of all processes involved with the manufacture of a product. This can include extraction and processing of raw materials, transport, all elements of the manufacturing process, dismantling and waste disposal.
In recent years, there has been an increasing growth of the green agenda, with more EU governments committed to reducing CO₂ and a greater demand for green certification. Of course, central to this is the positive impact on health, well-being and productivity. But commercially, there are also significant advantages to green certification, such as helping developers to let buildings more quickly, with considerable operational cost advantages and an extensive financial impact.
Since 1990, BREEAM has certified 561,200 developments globally, demonstrating the growing importance of green building certification. Indeed, in the the UK, the ‘green’ market is set to grow by more than 23% by 2018.
In light of this ‘change’, EPD are now viewed as crucial in demonstrating sustainability, which property investors progressively see as critical to reducing risk and increasing value, with sustainability recognised as not only extenuating the risks associated with climate change and urbanisation, but also improving the long-term value of their assets, attracting and retaining tenants in commercial real estate.
On the supply side, major builders’ merchants are beginning to request EPD from their product suppliers which will create demand pull-through for EPD and underpin its importance in the sustainability process.
Significance of green certification
Although EPD do not guarantee a product is energy efficient or sustainable, it provides information in a standardised and consistent way, to allow one product to be compared with another, by looking at the various lifecycle stages. This enables the user to make an informed choice when selecting one particular solution over another.
Although EPD are a small part of the process, the increasing significance of green certification highlights the importance of a move towards a more transparent and sustainable global industry.
Environmental product declarations are based on the ISO14025 and EN15804, internationally recognised quality mark and standards and can contribute credits towards green building certification, such as BREEAM or LEED, help reduce a building’s environmental impact and enable a higher level of clarity and sustainability across the industry. Commercially, energy and resource efficiency, emissions and content of the material can also impact the bottom line.
Participation in the EPD programme is vital if the construction industry is to meet the growing demand for greater sustainability. As a result, dhf (Door & Hardware Federation) commenced the launch of 14 generic EPD in June of this year, so that our members are in a good position to meet that increased requirement.
EPD has been discussed continuously over the past two years in the dhf Building Hardware Group meetings, with special presentations from leading organisations arranged at a number of these meetings and individual briefings for members. The objective has been to educate and inform dhf members about the role and growing importance of EPD in the sustainability process and to enable a greater sense of understanding in a potentially complex area.
There are 14 different EPD product titles that dhf are offering. These are locks; door and window handles, hinges (single axis), lock cylinders, sliding door gear, window fittings, door closers, panic exit devices, shutter hardware, letter boxes, padlocks, glass door gear, electromechanical hardware and push button locks.
dhf has an extensive section regarding EPD on its website. For further information on the benefits of participating in the EPD programme, please call 0044 1827 52337 or visit: http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/pg/what-is-an-epd/117.htm. Information can also be accessed on the Arge website: http://arge.org/
Bob Perr is the chief executive of dhf (Door & Hardware Federation).