The IBU Advisory Board Holds Its 50th Meeting – Its Expertise, Independence, and Continuity Are the Guarantee for the Quality of the IBU Programme.
The IBU Advisory Board is the top-level expert body for the work performed by the IBU and for the operation of its international EPD programme for construction products. These dedicated experts, who come from the areas of science and standardisation, as well as building and environmental authorities, building operations and building certification systems, will be gathering to monitor and further develop the IBU programme. This will be the fiftieth meeting of the Advisory Board.
‘For more than fifteen years, the Advisory Board has been working to support the IBU, which was originally known as the AUB – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Umweltverträgliches Bauprodukt, as it has grown. From the original idea – using life cycle assessments as the basis for reliably and verifiably documenting the environmental effects of construction products – through the tempestuous pioneering days of EPDs in Germany, through the consolidation and harmonisation of rules in the EN 15804 standard, to today, and the current challenge of achieving Europe-wide harmonisation of the rules for environmental product declarations and mutual recognition of the national programmes and their EPDs. The IBU still continues to remain a driving force and a pioneer, and the Advisory Board is delighted to be able to accompany the IBU on its journey’.
With these words, Advisory Board chairman Dr Frank Werner opened the 50th meeting of the IBU Advisory Board on January 24, 2018 in Berlin.
The experts gather four to five times annually to discuss sustainable building, clarify current methodological issues in the Institut Bauen und Umwelt (IBU) EPD programme, release new Product Category Rules and take decisions on questions of conformity with the established standards that form the basis of the IBU declarations programme.
A glimpse back: today’s IBU arose out of an initiative started by construction product manufacturers, known as the AUB (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Umweltverträgliches Bauprodukt), which was launched in the late 1970s with the aim of bringing more transparency to the environmental aspects of construction products. At first, this was accomplished via AUB environmental certificates. As additional methods were developed, e.g. the life cycle assessment, the focus shifted and the idea of establishing a declarations programme on the basis of life cycle assessments and international standards was born. A 2002 statement read: ‘The aim is to provide verifiable and non-misleading information on the environmental aspects of construction products. The environmental product declaration is an element of the concept of sustainable building. The declaration enhances knowledge about the products used, facilitates the selection of materials, forms the basis for documenting the construction products used in a building, and lays the groundwork for the ecological optimisation of planning and building through the use of life cycle assessments. (AUB 2002)’. This was the birth of today’s EPD (environmental product declaration) in Germany, the principal aim of which has not changed over time.
‘The German Federal Environment Agency supported the establishment of AUB as a programme operator for a Type III environmental declaration programme for building products’, relates Dr Eva Schmincke of the Deutscher Naturschutzring – German Society for Nature Conservation. She, like Dr Oliver Jann of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, is a founding member of the Advisory Board.
On November 6, 2002, on the occasion of a joint meeting of the complete AUB Board and representatives of public institutions, the Advisory Committee (now known as the Advisory Board) was constituted, and since then, has provided the product group forums with expert advice, while acting in the public interest to ensure that the environmental declarations created provide a maximum of transparency, neutrality, and reliability. The Advisory Committee coordinated the declarations grids for product groups and performed an initial verification of the completeness of the information provided by manufacturers. The growing number of declarations to be verified led to the transfer of the independent testing to selected verifiers, who were designated and appointed by the Advisory Committee in accordance with strictly-defined criteria. In 2013, the body was renamed the Advisory Council (Sachverständigenrat – SVR), to make the independence of its members from the IBU EPD programme more evident to external parties. The group’s responsibilities continue to include testing and release of Product Category Rules (PCR), monitoring for conformity with standards, and ensuring the quality of the verification process, including the appointment of verifiers.
The Advisory Board is currently made up of eleven members, all of them experts in the areas of construction material science, sustainable building, life cycle assessment, or standardisation, and all of whom support the IBU on a pro bono basis with their extensive experience. In his speech at the anniversary session, Professor Horst Bossenmayer, President of the Institut Bauen und Umwelt, emphasised: ‘The objective of the IBU programme – the creation, dissemination, and use of EPDs – is an integral component in the promotion of sustainable construction. The environmental information on products and services that EPDs provide conforms to European guidelines, is based on life cycle assessments, and is consistently and independently audited, thereby facilitating communication among construction product manufacturers as well as between manufacturers and others involved in building projects. In accomplishing this, the IBU Advisory Board serves as an indispensable and independent body of experts. If it didn’t already exist, we would have to establish it immediately!’
At the anniversary meeting on January 24. Horst Bossenmayer appointed architect Christian Kemper as new Advisory Board member. Since early 2014, Christian Kemper has been head of Green Building Management at HOCHTIEF. Green Building Management is able to effectively carry out all market-relevant certification systems (DGNB, LEED, BREAAM, NaWoh). The goal here is to implement certification as a part of the building process, thereby making sustainability an integral element of building projects. With his practical experience in project management and implementation of sustainable construction concepts, Mr Kemper brings to the IBU Advisory Board a wealth of broad knowledge and skills. As ever, the Board’s tasks remain diverse: on-going development of standards, new product groups, software tools for creating EPDs, and additional requirements for information and documentation mean that going into the future, the IBU Advisory Board will continue to be an invaluable asset to the Institut Bauen und Umwelt’s EPD programme and to contribute to its reputation.