When is an EPD not an EPD #2

In a follow on from my previous post, I had been thinking of highlighting two documents which looked like EPD. One claimed that verification was optional for Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for business to business communication, and the other said it was “awaiting verification”.

Luckily both seem to have disappeared from the internet, and hopefully are being independently verified before being published in an EPD programme.

For all types of products, verification of EPD is a requirement of ISO 14025, the EPD standard, and thus of EN 15804, the European standard for EPD for construction products. Verification needs to be undertaken by an independent expert – they need to be an expert in Life Cycle Assessment, and also of the product group in question, and they need to be independent.

ISO 14025 states, “Independent verifiers, whether internal or external to the organization, shall not have been involved in the execution of the LCA or the development of the declaration, and shall not have conflicts of interests resulting from their position in the organization.”

Why is verification essential? Verification is the check that the standards have been followed. This means that verifiers check, for example, that:

  • the data provided by the manufacturer is plausible – are there enough inputs to make the outputs, can they explain why their product has a much lower or higher impact than others for example
  • the LCI data used is of suitable quality and representative
  • allocation to co-products and by-products is sensible
  • the modelling and calculations have been done correctly
  • the right characterisation factors have been used, and
  • the EPD provides all the information that is required in the standard.

Where EPD have been produced by pre-verified EPD tools, it is still be necessary for the EPD to be verified. For example, the checks on plausibility of the data entered into the tool and that inputs have been linked with the right LCA datasets in the tool still need to be done by an independent verifier.

If an EPD to EN 15804 has been been verified, then the EPD is required to include a table which looks like this one below. It must state whether an internal or external verification has taken place, and it is good practice to name the verifier, although this is only essential if the EPD is aimed at consumers rather than architects and specifiers. If it doesn’t state whether internal or external verification has been undertaken, then you need to check if the EPD has actually been verified, otherwise it isn’t compliant with the standard.

All EPD also have to give the date of issue and period of validity – this is normally 5 years from issue. If the EPD doesn’t state when it was published or how long is it valid for, then it is not compliant with the standard and is not an EPD to EN 15804.

If you are not sure about an EPD, contact the manufacturer or EPD provider and ask if it complies with the standards and has been verified. Let me know if you find documents which look like EPD but don’t seem to comply.

About constructionlca

Co-author Green Guide to Specification, expert in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), EPDs and sustainability for the construction materials sector Researching Building LCA and how we can increase uptake at the Open University. Tweets as @constructionlca
This entry was posted in EN 15804, Environmental Product Declarations, EPD and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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