An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) offers a detailed insight into a product’s environmental performance by analysing various aspects, including raw material choice, production, use, and disposal. Flavie Lowres, FIS Sustainability Champion explains how and why an EPD is created and speaks to four FIS members who recognise the importance of obtaining verified EPDs.

In the last couple of years, there has been a real turn in the way the construction industry addresses sustainability. One of the biggest topics of discussion is around net zero. The need to reduce the energy demand of buildings is not new.

Part L has been in place for a while and buildings that have lower energy demand are attractive to tenants/occupiers. This has been particularly true since the spike in energy prices that was seen in 2022. However, the biggest changes that have taken place is with regards to carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, installation and disposal of construction products, so the embodied carbon impact. Manufacturers are therefore asked to provide information on the carbon impact of their products which can in turn inform construction projects. The construction sector has been working on
the development of standards to measure the carbon impact of construction products and projects for many years and they are well established as the measurement and reporting standards. Those standards are:
BS EN 15978 at project/building level and BS EN 15804 at product level.

Manufacturers are often asked to provide an EPD. An EPD is created from a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study during which manufacturers are asked to provide a lot of information related to the manufacturing of their products: energy, water, raw materials quantities and transport, waste, etc. The data collected from the factory are analysed and reported against a set of indicators which are set out in BS EN 15804.

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Five questions you should ask when looking at an EPD
1. Is it verified or not?
An EPD should be third-party verifi ed to relevant standards.

2. Is the EPD current?
Check the publication date and expiry date. EPDs must be updated every 5 years.

3. Which Life Cycle Stages are included?
New EPDs should declare the production (A1-A3) phase plus the end of life (C)

4. Which manufacturing locations are included?
An EPD can cover one product produced in a single location, or those sourced from several locations.

5. What is covered?
An EPD can be product specifi c, cover a range of products or be generic to the product sector. The results can be reported against a declared unit eg: m2, m, m3 or a functional unit eg: 1 m2 of insulation with a U-value of x depending on the product and its function.