Understanding EPDs for Sustainable Construction

15-05-2024

As the construction industry intensifies its focus on reducing embodied carbon and environmental impacts, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) have emerged as a powerful tool. EPDs provide transparent, third-party verified data on the life cycle environmental footprints of construction products and materials. This information allows architects, engineers, contractors and owners to make more informed design and procurement decisions aligned with sustainability goals.

What is an EPD?
An EPD is a report that quantifies the potential environmental impacts associated with a product by studying inputs, outputs and emissions across its entire life cycle. This includes impacts from raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, construction, use, maintenance and end-of-life disposal or recycling scenarios.

EPDs follow strict product category rules and international standards like ISO 14025 and EN 15804 to ensure consistency and comparability. They must undergo third-party verification to validate the life cycle assessment methodology and resulting data.

Key Environmental Indicators EPDs
Key Environmental Indicators EPDs present quantified data on a range of environmental impact categories, such as:

• Global warming potential (greenhouse gas emissions)
• Ozone depletion
• Acidification
• Eutrophication (nutrient pollution)
• Photochemical ozone creation
• Depletion of abiotic resources (minerals, fossils)

The primary focus is often on the products global warming potential or embodied carbon footprint measured in kg of CO2 equivalent emissions.

Applications in sustainable construction having verified EPD data allows project teams to compare equivalent products, optimize designs, and conduct full life cycle assessments (LCAs) of buildings. This supports strategies to reduce upfront embodied carbon as well as operational and end-of-life impacts.

EPDs empower sustainable material selection, enabling:

• Carbon footprinting of structural materials
• Evaluations of insulation, cladding and finish alternatives
• Assessments of flooring, countertop and furnishing options
• Comparisons across concrete mixes or steel reinforcement

Transparency with credible CO2 data
Transparency from EPDs also aids in green building certification, environmental reporting and asset valuation. As regulations and industry standards toward net-zero construction ramp up, having credible CO2 data will be essential for benchmarking and making improvement claims.

Looking ahead while EPD adoption is still emerging, major product manufacturers, industry groups and green building programs are embracing EPDs as the standard for construction product transparency. Architects, engineers, contractors and owners would be wise to start factoring EPDs into decision-making now to get ahead of impending net-zero requirements.

EPDs represent an important step toward more sustainable construction practices. By quantifying and verifying products' true environmental impacts, EPDs pave the way for lower carbon materials, resource efficiency and smarter building life cycle management.

As industry leaders, KE Fibertec is uniquely positioned to provide calculations encompassing all components of textile based solutions via our in house developed software (TBV Designer). Our documentation categorizes components into four main groups: textile, assembly materials, accessories, and packaging, offering a complete overview of the total climate impact attributable to the ventilation contract supplied by KE Fibertec.