Business consulting on energy and environmental issues
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Hendrikje Schubert

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Hendrikje Schubert

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Environmental Product Declarations - EPD

The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly important, especially in the construction industry. Environmentally friendly buildings should already leave a low environmental footprint in the construction phase. For this reason, customers' need for information on environmental product declarations (EPDs) will continue to increase, and failure to know this can lead to a loss of orders.

In order to take these developments into account and to harmonize the results, various international standards for the environmental labeling of products have been developed. The relevant standards currently cover environmental labeling from the

Type I - ISO 14024

Environmental label, seal authorized by independent party, dependent on fulfillment of certain criteria

Type II - ISO 14021

Environmental vendor declaration/labeling without independent verification. These include Self Declaration, Environmental Claims, Symbols, statements such as "recyclable", "degradable", "reduced energy and water consumption"! Risks: Greenwashing accusation and loss of confidence!

Type III - ISO 14025

Quantifiable information based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and verified by an independent party.

The Type III Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) defines the most detailed and demanding requirements for the manufacturer. Type III labeling is now widely used and recognized, particularly in the construction industry.

The EPD informs the customer/reader about various environmental impacts associated with the product life cycle. These include greenhouse gas emissions, which are currently the focus of attention, and the scarcity of water and land.

Type III environmental product declarations in the construction sector are regulated by DIN EN ISO 14025 and DIN EN 15804. ISO 14025 regulates general requirements for the EPD, which are based on the principles of life cycle assessment (LCA). DIN EN 15804 specifies these requirements, particularly in the area of system boundaries and exclusions.

How is an EPD created?

  1. In the first step, we conduct a so-called scoping workshop (5h) with you. During this workshop, we will give you a basic input on the requirements for type III environmental product declarations (EPDs according to ISO 14025). Afterwards, we clarify the system boundaries of the EPD as well as the functional unit (e.g. 1 ton of reinforcing steel) of the product and requirements for data needs and quality. In addition, we create a simple product life cycle in a first plant tour.
  2. The second step is a detailed process analysis. First, all material and energy flows relevant to the product are recorded over its life cycle. We provide you with structured templates for this and support you with any questions you may have. We then model the product life cycle, including all inputs and outputs, using a LCA software. The software then performs a corresponding impact assessment for various impact categories (e.g. greenhouse effect, eutrophication potential, water scarcity potential) and evaluates them. These results form the basis for the EPD.
  3. The third step involves contacting and verification by an independent auditor. We coordinate the communication and coordination with the external auditor. After a successful audit, the EPD certificate is issued to the product manufacturer and you can openly advertise with it.

What are the advantages of an EPD?

Internally, the EPD presents all environmental impacts including upstream and downstream processes caused by a product. By visualizing various material and energy flows, targeted measures can be derived to improve environmental performance.

Externally, an EPD serves to inform interested parties. EPDs are often requested when awarding contracts and can represent a competitive advantage. Transparent external information also demonstrates the company's environmental commitment.