An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is essentially an externally verified and standardized description of the environmental profile of any product or material over its lifetime. If you are a construction engineer or an architect, you can easily compare the EPD data of the materials you are about to use and choose the most sustainable option. If you are a manufacturer, by certifying your product with this methodology you are making a positive value statement on the issues of climate change, carbon impact, and environmental footprint. Having an EPD for a product does not necessarily mean that the product is environmentally better than others, but it is a way to obtain transparent information on the environmental impact of the product during its whole lifetime.
EPDs are based on Life-cycle assessment calculations according to ISO 14040, ISO 14044 and usually EN 15804 standard in European countries. An EPD is created and verified in accordance with the International Standard ISO 14025, developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In Europe, the European Committee for Standardization has published EN 15804, common Product Category Rules (PCR) for EPD development in the construction sector. EPDs help to achieve EPD and LCA credits in the following certification schemes: LEED, BREEAM, DGNB, HQE, and others. They are usually valid for five years.
There are several types of EPDs that cover different life-cycle stages of a product:
- Cradle-to-gate EPD involves only the manufacturing process and harvesting of material. It has the minimum amount of data for life-cycle assessment.
- Cradle-to-grave EPD includes the whole life-cycle of a product, specifically covering its maintenance and the end of life. If you wish to create an EPD for your product or utilize your manufacturer’s EPD, this is the option you should select.
- Cradle-to-gate with options includes the minimum requirements that are present in the cradle-to-gate option with a few additional information modules from cradle-to-grave EPD variation.
This extract from an EPD illustrates the most essential EPD data and how complicated it is. The EPD sample belongs to Skonto.