As environmental labels, EPDs are suitable for all building-related products and services. Since building materials as well as construction products and building components are intermediate, not end products, they are not per se either environmentally friendly or harmful. Their influence on the environment is dependent upon many factors, as the environmental impact of individual building products will ultimately be determined by their interaction within a building. For instance, the use of a construction product made from natural raw materials is not by itself a guarantee of sustainability. For sustainable building, the fact that a product has received a positive assessment of its individual environmental characteristics, as, for instance, with Type I environmental labels, is not sufficient. Every product must be viewed holistically. This is because in order to be able to determine and assess the ecological dimensions of a structure’s sustainability, it is necessary to have complete information about all of the characteristics and environmental influences of the installed products, including their interaction. EPDs provide verified datasets that are used to create the building’s life cycle assessment. For this reason, Type III environmental product declarations, i.e. EPDs, are used in the planning of sustainable buildings and in the assessment of their ecological sustainability.
EPDs Contain Information On a Product’s Environmental Effects
Rather than assessing the individual characteristics of a product, EPDs, on the basis of life cycle assessments, document all relevant environmental aspects in a transparent, independent, and comprehensible manner. EPDs provide clear information about the environmental impact of the product throughout its complete life cycle. The entire process is reviewed – from raw material extraction to production, transport, and installation into the building, up to and including the end-of-life stage and disposal or recycling options. EPDs contain quantitative product information derived from life cycle assessments. This includes statements regarding energy and resource utilisation, the amount of waste generated, and information on the extent to which a product contributes to such factors as greenhouse effect, acidification, over-fertilisation, ozone depletion, and smog formation.
EPDs Contain Information On a Product’s Functional and Technical Characteristics
The assessment of a construction product’s performance within the context of an entire building is based on various technical specifications. These include, e.g. information on pressure resistance, lifespan, or thermal and acoustic insulation. An EPD may also include environmental and health-related data, such as emissions into indoor air.
EPDs Provide Information On Recycling Management and Disposal
EPDs also indicate what will be done with a construction product or its components during the end-of-life phase: Whether it will be disposed of, thus ending its life cycle (cradle to grave), or whether, and to what extent, it can be re-entered into the production cycle (cradle to cradle) thereby contributing to resource efficiency. This clarity and transparency make it possible to calculate the long-term effect of individual components on the ecosystem.