Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)
What is an EPD?
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) communicates a construction material’s environmental impact and performance. This is done by looking at the materials and processes needed to produce/manufacture the product. EPDs specifically look at the product from cradle-to-gate—that is from its origin (mine, oil well, etc.) to the point that is ready to be shipped to a construction site. As a product is manufactured one product’s EPD (e.g., cement) may be incorporated into a subsequent product’s EPD (e.g., concrete); meaning only the EPD of the product being used is relevant.
EPD’s quickly allow similar products to be compared to each other, enabling a contractor or owner to choose construction materials that are better for the environment. However, it is NOT possible to compare different materials to each other because their functionality is not equivalent. For example 1,000 board feet of lumber does not get you the same thing as 1 yd3 of concrete. To compare different materials with similar properties, a Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) must be conducted.
The EPD’s and other information (e.g., building energy efficiency) are used as inputs to an LCA to understand the structure’s environmental impact over its expected lifetime. Use of an LCA, allows owners to make more informed decisions that minimize the impact of the built environment. LCA often look from cradle-to-grave or even cradle-to-cradle and allow comparisons across different building options.
EPD’s only look at embodied energy and ignore operational energy. An LCA more fully accounts for this and is thus truly represent building more sustainably and resiliently to address our climate challenge. Rules and regulations, including the most recent LEED standards, are pushing to whole building LCAs
Ernest Maier is committed to sustainability. We do not charge more for our EPDs or for more sustainable products. In fact, we recognize that many of these recycled products actually save you money. So unless you tell us we can’t we’ve already been selling you more sustainable and resilient products.
Feel free to contact Dr. Aaron Fisher our sustainability lead.