Following the signing of a statement of intent in January 2013 at the world’s leading industry trade fair, BAU, the IBU negotiated mutual recognition of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) with the North American programme owner, UL Environment. This recognition was instituted at the end of 2013.
Recognition in the North American market is especially important for members of the IBU, because the American building certification system, LEED, in its latest version (v4), for the first time awards credits to building projects that incorporate products that have an EPD.
The contractual agreement was preceded by nearly a year of negotiations. IBU’s technical expert, Dr Eva Schminke, worked with Paul Firth from UL Environment to establish the conditions of the collaboration. The two, both experts in life cycle assessments and sustainable building, agreed, among other things, upon a standardisation of the verification process, which would assure comparable quality of life cycle assessments, ensuring that they meet with the guidelines set forth in EN 15804.
Manufacturers who wish to have their IBU-EPDs incorporated by UL Environment must provide additional documentation on the impact indicators from the life cycle assessments, on the basis of the TRACI factors that are commonly used in the USA. For existing EPDS, the life cycle assessment that has already been created may be used to obtain this additional information. For new EPDs, the evaluation needed for TRACI requirements should be integrated into the background report directly during the creation of the life cycle assessment.
“Our members now have a very easy way to present their EPDS on the American market”, explained IBU Managing Director Dr Burkhart Lehmann, in describing the advantages of this collaboration. “This not only saves money, but also increases the value of the IBU EPDs.” The IBU is particularly pleased that it was possible to enter into the agreement with UL Environment on the basis of the standards set forth in EN 15804. “It cannot be taken for granted that an American organisation will agree to follow European standards”, continued Dr Lehmann, “but we were able to convince UL Environment of the qualities that are inherent in the European concept of sustainability”.