Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

Introduction

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a comprehensive and internationally standardized report (ISO 14025/TR-Type III) that documents the ways in which a product impacts the environment throughout it’s lifecycle.

An EPD is based on a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and includes:
- Information on the environmental impact of raw material acquisition.
- Energy use and efficiency
- Content of materials and chemical substances
- Emissions to air, soil and water
- Waste generation
- Product and company information.

Unlike a certification, an EPD does not define whether a product is good or bad. An EPD is a transparency tool which enables users to compare products and make informed choices based on their environmental priorities.

The exact content of an EPD varies according to the product category for which it is being prepared. Each product category is guided by a set of rules and requirements called Product Category Rules (PCR). Without these rules, it is impossible to compare the results of one product to another within the same category.

The term EPD can only be used for documents that comply with ISO 14025 guidelines and have been conducted and validated by the appropriate parties.

EPD Parties


EPD Manager and Author: The EPD management and authorship is best conducted by an expert in order to ensure ISO compliance and acceptance by the Program Operator. The expert can be internal to the manufacturer for whom the EPD is being prepared or can be external. The expert can not be the Program Operator.
Resources: GIGA. LCA Practitioners.


LCA Practitioner:
Similar to EPD Management and Authorship, the Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) is best conducted by an expert practitioner in order to ensure ISO compliance and acceptance by the Program Operator. The expert practitioner can be internal to the manufacturer for whom the EPD is being prepared, or can be external. The LCA Practitioner can not be the Program Operator.
Resources: SRIBS (JKTAC), Ecovane, Quantis, PE International.


Program Operator:
EPDs require an independent third-party agency called the Program Operator, to verify that the full development process has been done in accordance with ISO 14025 guidelines.
Resources: Currently, the only Program Operator with experience in China is Underwriter's Laboratory Environment (ULE).



EPD Development Process

1. Identify EPD Manager and Author: EPD Author, Manufacturer or LCA Practitioner
2. Identify or Develop the appropriate PCR: Program Operator, Manufacturer
3. Conduct the LCA: LCA Practitioner, Manufacturer
4. LCA Verification: Secondary LCA Practitioner
5. EPD Authorship: EPD Manager, Manufacturer or LCA Practitioner
6. Third-Party Verification: Program Operator
7. EPD Registration and Publication: Program Operator
8. Staff Training (CSO, R&D, Sales and Marketing): EPD Manager


Market Drivers

- Disclosure of product lifecycle impacts is required for Government projects in Europe.
- Disclosure of product lifecycle impacts is required by Green Building Certifications that have global presences, including LEED and BREAAM.
- Architects, designers and professional purchasers are requiring verified life-cycle based environmental impact information.
- China Green Building Label is providing incentive for products that have information contained in EPDs, including carbon emissions.
- Manufacturers are looking to harmonize the innumerable amount of global certifications and declarations that they must currently consider.
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