Verified environmental information for construction products

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD in short) documents the environmental performance of a building component and is developed in accordance with recognized European, as well as international, standards.

In other words, an EPD is a standardized method for the communication of information regarding energy- and resource consumption as well as the environmental impacts arising from the manufacture, use, and disposal of a construction product.

The foundation of an EPD is a lifecycle assessment (LCA) where the environmental performance of the building component is quantified for its service life, often referred to as ‘cradle-to-grave’.

What does an EPD document?
An EPD covers a range of environmental impact categories (including global warming, acidification, eutrophication, and more) but also quantifies the consumption of energy resources (renewable and non-renewable), as well as waste processes (e.g. amounts of disposed materials and materials for energy production or re-use).

Are there different types of EPDs?
In general, there are two types of EPD: product specific EPDs and industrywide EPDs.

An industrywide EPD represents an average for a specific industry or product type, i.e. concrete elements, construction timber, or tiles/bricks. The EPD can as such be based on a weighted average of the data for the industry – i.e. the dominant share of manufacturers.

Product specific EPDs are developed for a specific product from a specific manufacturer, i.e. an insulation material of a specific type from a specific manufacturer. A product specific EPD may also include a product range, i.e. ‘one product’ has a variety of potential coatings then ‘several products’ may be included into a single product specific EPD.

Furthermore, both types of EPD can be developed with different system boundaries: cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-gate with add-ons, or cradle-to-grave.

Who develops an EPD?
The majority of the contents of an EPD stem from the underlying LCA (Lifecycle Assessment), which is carried out based on data collected from the manufacturer.

Typically, the modelling of the product system, as well as the calculation of environmental impacts, is done in a database-driven LCA-software. The EPD development is based on these calculation results and must consequently be third-party verified before it can be published.

An EPD, as well as the underlying LCA, are carried out by an LCA-consultant. Some – primarily larger – companies have qualified LCA-practitioners employed, but there are also external consultants who carry out LCAs and EPDs for the manufacturers.