What is an EPD?

22 Sep

Hello everyone and welcome back to the drawing board with me Vicky Mastoridou. Our topic today is the Environmental Product Declaration or else EPD type III and their application in construction industry.


What is an EPD?

An EPD is a document that quantifies environmental impacts of a product or services and an important aspect of an EPD is to provide the basis for a fair comparison between products or services by their environmental performance. They are also a good indicator to show the areas of the product lifecycle that cause too much stress on the environment

For an EPD we use Life Cycle Assessment methodology as a tool. What we really do in an Life Cycle Assessment is counting the emissions produced during the different stages of the life cycle of the product. These emissions come in different shapes and formats, since the emissions from extracting raw materials are very different from the emissions from producing electricity. For this reason we give the impact categories, so we can convert these emissions in accountable numbers. Similar to using the key performance indicators - none as KPIs - to evaluate the success of a business we use indicators to evaluate the environmental impacts of the product. The impact category is considered in the lifecycle assessment are:

  • The global warming potential
  • eutrophication
  • acidification
  • ozone depletion
  • photochemical ozone creation and the
  • deplession for biotic resources for both element and fossils

Now, depending on the lifecycle stages considered in an EPD, we have different types. The minimum stages an EPD must have is the product stage or else we have a cradle-to-gate approach. In case of the prop this product state includes all the emissions produced during the extraction of raw materials their transport onto the steel factory to produce these standard sections and then any further processing and cutting from the manufacturer to create our final product.

In a cradle-to-grave approach, we have all the four stages of the life cycle of the product: this is the product stage, the construction, the use and the end. Going back to our example for the hydraulic prop, the construction stage includes all the emissions could used during transport of the product from our depot to site and back and all the emissions during installation. The use stage includes all maintenance, repairs, replacement, refurbishment and there is also a provision for the operational energy and cost of the product. Finally when it's time to retire the product, it's been dismantled in its components, some of them can be recycled or reused and the rest will be disposed. In our case of a steel prop, 99% of the elements can be recycled. this is considered in the Life Cycle Assessment and gives us back some benefits as a reward. The final type of an EPD is the cradle-to-gate with options. As we've mentioned before the product stage is default and is the minimum requirement so any of the other stages or sub-stages are optional.

Now before I close this presentation, I would like to say a few things about the difference between the carbon footprint and the Life Cycle Assessment. A Carbon Footprint Assessment is a part of a Life Cycle Assessment focusing mainly on the climate change and the global warming potential. This is the reason why we will see everything measured in CO2 or equivalent units.

Overall an EPD is a very important tool for the businesses in order to achieve their sustainability goals and to create a more environmental friendly culture.

Vicky Mastoridou
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