I’m really pleased that as part of the series of EPD Briefing Papers I’ve been writing with the ASBP, I’ve been able to compile a new online Briefing Paper which lists all the EPD for UK produced construction products with links.
Finding EPD for UK produced products has been difficult for specifiers and those assessing embodied carbon, with the EPD spread across numerous EPD Programmes – this paper brings them together and with over 350 EPD, I believe it is comprehensive. They are mainly manufacturer specific EPD, but there are a number of sector EPD for the UK covering brick, concrete and timber, and I have also included a list of European Sector EPD.
If you are aware of other EPD, please contact me to let me add them. We are looking to update the Briefing Paper regularly so it remains a current listing.
The other ASBP EPD Briefing Papers provide an introduction to EPD, How to Use EPD and Where to find EPD in general. If you are interested in finding out more about EPD and how to read and use them, I will be running a Webinar with ASBP – Understanding EPD on 22nd April.
In October 2020, the Government responded to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2020 Progress Report which had recommended to Government, in relation to embodied carbon in buildings, that the Government, “support the assessment and benchmarking of whole-life carbon in buildings.” The Government responded by saying, “The Government does not currently assess or benchmark the embodied carbon of buildings. To assess the embodied carbon of buildings a simple, standardised method of calculation would be required, supported by a robust evidence base.”
Yet two months later, in December 2020, UK Government has required, through the Construction Playbook, that central government should adopt the use of whole life carbon assessments for all public works projects and programmes, including building, civil engineering, construction and equipment projects. This is mandatory on a ‘comply or explain’ basis for all contracting authorities within central government departments (such as the Ministry of Defence), and its arm’s length bodies such as their agencies (e.g. the Highways Agency, Environment Agency, Homes England, HM Prisons and HM Courts), and public bodies, and this will be enforced through spending controls. The wider public sector is also encouraged to take account of the Construction Playbook. A list of all the bodies affected is provided here.
The playbook requires that:
“All contracting authorities should set out strategies and plans for achieving net zero GHG emissions by or ahead of 2050 for their entire estate/infrastructure portfolio. These should be aligned under an overarching sustainability framework, and systems and processes should be in place to ensure their projects and programmes deliver on the targets set.”
“Recognising the design life of public works, contracting authorities should adopt the use of whole life carbon assessments to understand and minimise the GHG emissions footprint of projects and programmes throughout their lifecycle.”
“Contracting authorities should require that solutions put forward by potential suppliers are accompanied by a whole life carbon assessment. This should be conducted in collaboration with the wider supply chain, reflecting ways of minimising the GHG emissions across the life of the asset.”
“Whole life carbon assessments are expected to mature over time with higher-level assessments at the early engagement phase developing into robust assessments included in the final tender documentation.”
For central government, compliance to the Construction Playbook is being driven through departments’ governance processes, central Cabinet Office controls (projects over £10 million per transaction) and the Treasury Approvals Process. The Cabinet Office Sourcing Programme will work with in-scope organisations to embed the Construction Playbook within local governance forums and approval processes.
Whole Life Carbon is described in the RICS Professional Statement for Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment, as the operational carbon and embodied carbon emissions over a project’s expected life cycle. So by requiring Whole Life Carbon assessments, the Government are requiring Embodied Carbon assessments. The RICS Professional Statement on Whole Life Carbon is aligned to EN 15978, though only measuring carbon, and provides the default methodology for whole life carbon assessment in the UK, endorsed by the RIBA, CIBSE, IStructE and many other organisations. It has also been used as the basis of the Greater London Authority’s requirement of embodied carbon assessment and reporting for all referable schemes as part of the New London Plan.
Architects Climate Action (ACAN) launched their campaign to regulate embodied carbon in the UK this evening with over 300 people online! France, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Sweden have all got Embodied Carbon regulation in place, or require assessment of public buildings. The UK shouldn’t be able to leave 10-15% of its Greenhouse Gas Emissions unregulated when it has less than 30 years to reduce our carbon emissions to zero.
At the start of January 2021, there are just over 10,000 Verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) to EN 15804 for construction products registered globally, as shown in my 2021 Infographic.
Regulation in France, where the RE2020 Building LCA legislation will come into force in the summer, and environmental claims can only be made about construction products which are supported by EPD, means that the French EPD programme now has the largest number of EN 15804 EPD, known there as FDES, with the French inies programme which also lists PEP EcoPassport (EPD for building services equipment), now having over 30% of all EN 15804 EPD. (In the Infographic numbers, I’ve not included the données par defaut from the inies database which are generic data for products, rather than EPD)
This year, there are new programmes in the Infographic: EPD Belge, and VUPS in the Czech Republic. There has also been big growth in the number of EN 15804 EPD in the SCS programme in the US, and in the programmes in Finland and the Netherlands. The International EPD has also seen good growth in the number of EPD through its hubs in Australasia, Latin America and Brazil and Asia.
In addition, use of concrete EPD generators in the United States means there are now over 36,000 EPD for concrete there, mostly using ISO 21930. This is driven, in part, by initiatives such as that in Portland, Oregon, for all concrete used in City construction projects to have an EPD. The state of Oregon has also provided a free concrete EPD tool and financial reimbursements for concrete companies. For more information about regulation on embodied carbon, EPD and LCA around the world, see this review of city policies and this of policy and regulation more generally.
They talk about why people might want EPD, for example:
“One way companies can affirm their sustainability efforts is by issuing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for the items they manufacture—or, on the procurement side, requesting them from manufacturers.”
“Indeed, the EPD has become an internationally accepted way of assessing and communicating environmental impact in B2B interactions.”
“A growing trend is evident in the lighting business: End-users, like municipalities launching public street-lighting projects and private real estate companies installing lighting in their buildings, have increasingly started requesting Life-Cycle Assessment Studies and EPDs.”
And they recognise what an EPD is, a VERIFIED declaration, as they say,
“An EPD is essentially a verified version of what’s known as a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product—a document that analyzes the product’s lifetime environmental impacts.”
And they recognise that there are EPD programmes, like the EcoPassport programme in France,
“National and international associations and programs, like France’s EcoPassport system for related technologies like heating, electricity, and lighting, are also boosting awareness of EPDs.”
And they tell us that they have published some EPD,
“To provide information on material compositions and environmental impact, we at Signify have published a number of EPDs for different LED luminaires in our professional indoor and outdoor portfolios. Please read the EPDs for our Maxos fusion trunking system and feel free to reach out to us with questions.”
The actual document says “Environmental Product Declaration of the Maxos fusion Circular Economy Ready luminaire (ISO 14021, based on ISO 14040/14044, EN 15804)
So it says it’s an EPD, but ISO 14021 is the standard for self-declared claims. It also says,
“The CEN Norm EN 15804 serves as the core PCR”
but if so, you’d expect to see some environmental indicator results for the product – but this document only shows you a graph showing the breakdown of impacts over the life cycle, with each impact adding up to 100%. So no information on the actual impacts. The declaration has also not been verified by an independent expert as is required for an EPD to ISO 14025 or EN 15804.
In my view, this is purposely trying to mislead people by suggesting Signify and Philips have EPD when they most definitely don’t.
Eco Platform is the association for European EPD Programme Operators using EN 15804. The Eco Platform website has just had a revamp, coinciding with the launch of their digital EPD Eco Portal, where you can search for digital EPD by product type and country. The EPD use the InData format, a harmonised way of providing EPD data which follows the International Life Cycle Database (ILCD) format, with extra fields relevant to EPD (known as ILCD+EPD!). The next step will be providing API so that tools can link directly with the database.
So far only some of the EPD Programme members have included their digital EPD, and not all of their EPD are available digitally, but it is a great step forward, and Eco Platform programme operators have agreed to add all their new EPD to the Portal in future, so this will become a growing resource. For the time being, ECO EPD as pdfs are still available at the original Eco Platform EPD Registry.
I’m also pleased to see as part of the revamp, the archive of Eco Platform Newsletters are now all available. I’ve been pleased to contribute to a number of them, for example:
Rather late in the year I am adding my 2020 EPD Infographic to my blog which provides the numbers of EPD at the start of the year. The number of EN 15804 EPD have continued to rise, with French FDES overtaking German IBU EPD in terms of numbers. When you add in the French PEPEcoPassport – the EPD for building services equipment which follow EN 15804 principles then the French Inies database is the largest database for EPD. It also includes many “données par defaut” – default generic data to be used in the absence of EPD.
In addition to these EN 15804 EPD, there are now literally thousands of EPD to ISO 21930 available in North America – mostly from the concrete industry which has so far provided over 32,000 individual EPD for different concrete mixes at different plant. The easiest way to find these is to use the EC3 website which allows you to search by location, compressive strength, curing time, slump, % of Supplementary Cementitious Material, even to find products with an Embodied Carbon (A1-A3) within a certain range.
If you are looking for EPD or generic LCA data for construction products, then my Briefing Paper for the Alliance for Sustainable Building, “Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) – Where to find them” is a great place to start, providing links to all the existing EPD programmes and databases around the world (that I’m aware of – please let me know if you find others).
Sadly I’m not able to make this event where Simon Sturgis will be talking. There is a real drive to include embodied impacts in the new London Plan, with the London Assembly Environment Committee recommending action, and 459 architecture practices having signed up to include whole life carbon modelling as part of their basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use as part of Architects Declare.
As a Board Member of the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP), it was great to chair the ASBP event yesterday that marked the launch of the RICS Building Carbon Database, a rebrand of the WRAP Embodied Carbon Database set up with UKGBC in 2014, and alongside it, the launch of an update of Craig Jones’ Inventory of Carbon and Energy (the ICE Database) which will be available to those who didn’t attend the launch from his circularecology website shortly.
RICS are looking to update the Building Carbon Database based on user feedback, and if projects which measure embodied carbon use the data then the benchmarks it provides will be better and more detailed.
Craig shows the data quality information for aggregates
The updated ICE database has used the more than 6000 EPD now available to provide much more information on the embodied carbon of key building materials. For example, where in the 2011 v2, there was just one figure for aggregate, there are now embodied carbon figures for 10 types of aggregate. The database will provide data quality indicators, links to the sources and information on the range of values for product types – the data geeks amongst us at the launch can’t wait for the email with the database to arrive this morning!
But we know that it is not easy, so the ASBP will be convening a working group in the autumn which I will be leading. The aim of the group is to bring together forward-thinking organisations in the sector (clients, designers, manufacturers, contractors etc) to share learning, fill gaps in knowledge, provide feedback and input to research, standards and policy development, and to increase awareness of embodied carbon and whole life carbon assessment. The group will meet next in the autumn. Please message me if you would be interested in joining.