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Part 1: Why Environmental Product Declarations Are Important for Green Buildings
Part 2: How EPDs Are Created, What They Include, and Why They’re Useful
By Dagmar Ebaugh
February 2014 -
Green Article Use Policy
Over the last year, anyone even tangentially connected to the building industry has heard something about the growing emphasis placed on green building transparency, including a surge in Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). EPDs currently help contribute to credits in several green building systems, including LEED and Green Globes. Additionally, regulatory requirements in the European market are some of the reasons why more and more manufacturers are voluntarily choosing to generate EPDs. But what exactly is an EPD and why are they important for green buildings?
An EPD is a comprehensive report disclosing the environmental impacts of a product over its cradle-to-grave life cycle. What’s key about an EPD is that it is an internationally recognized, single, comprehensive disclosure of a product’s environmental impact throughout its life cycle. EPDs are documents that provide quantified environmental data using predetermined parameters and, where relevant, additional environmental information.
Most building materials, flooring and furniture that can go into a building can have an EPD to show their environmental impact. It is important to understand, however, that EPDs do not act as product ratings; rather they help purchasers better understand a product’s sustainable qualities and environmental impacts and provide actual data and metrics. The EPD says “Here I am”; a third-party certification to specific environmental criteria (such as UL110 or EcoLogo Certification) proves “Here’s why I’m environmentally preferable.”
Currently, there are variations in EPDs based on how they are generated, and on whether or not they were third-party verified. While all disclosure facilitates transparency, third-party verification lends additional credibility to an EPD.