In the fight against climate change, the construction industry is being called upon - and it must react by developing environmentally friendly,...
The building sector is responsible for around 38 percent of global CO2 emissions. Climate protection must start here in order to minimise greenhouse gases. To achieve this, it is necessary to take a holistic view of all factors that influence the CO2 footprint of a building. But if you want to build or renovate sustainably, you need objective and comparable data on the building products and materials that go into the life cycle assessment of the building. This is the only way to answer the questions: How sustainable is my building? Can it be certified for its sustainability? The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is the solution.
Knowing instead of assuming:
Environmental Product Declarations offer facts for environmental and climate protection.
The holistic consideration of all factors that have an influence on the ecological balance of a building is becoming increasingly important. In order to make these environmental factors transparent and comparable, Environmental Product Declarations have become internationally established. They are a method for the standardised presentation of the environmental impacts of products or services. Environmental Product Declarations provide a data basis that maps the entire life cycle of a building product or parts thereof and quantifies its environmental impacts.
What EPDs do for the construction industry
Environmental Product Declarations are based on the international standard ISO 14025, which applies to all sectors, but the construction industry is the pioneer in its application. The idea is that the standardised collection of environmental data on building products creates a comparable basis for sustainable construction planning. This data is published in the form of Environmental Product Declarations by building product manufacturers such as aquatherm and is made available from the manufacturer itself or via EPD databases such as DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) and Green Book Live on the Internet. Planners, architects and builders then use this information to make an informed decision when making their selection. They use the EPD to determine which building products will minimise the environmental impact of their project. This supports sustainable construction and advances climate protection. At the same time, a sustainable way of doing business is also supported, which aims to conserve resources and reduce environmental pollution.
The most important contents of an EPD
In an EPD, the environmental impacts of a product are recorded along the entire life cycle or in parts, including, among others:
In einer Umweltproduktdeklaration werden die Umweltauswirkungen eines Produkts entlang des gesamten Lebenszyklus oder in Teilen erfasst, dazu zählen unter anderem:
- raw material extraction
For each area, various environmental criteria such as greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption are recorded and evaluated. These results or environmental indicators flow into the EPD and enable comparability between building products. The result: Environmental Product Declarations create resilient and comparable facts with regard to sustainability.
Thinking in categories
An important component of an Environmental Product Declaration is the assignment of the product to a specific product category. This classification in the Product Category Rules (PCR) is necessary to establish comparability between similar products. In each product category, the relevant environmental factors are recorded and included in the EPD.
Convincing material properties of plastic pipes
Plastic pipes such as those from aquatherm achieve a very good environmental balance due to their specific material properties. For example, plastic pipes are durable and corrosion-resistant, which leads to a longer service life and lower maintenance costs.
In addition, plastic pipes are relatively light, which leads to lower transport costs and CO2 emissions. The production of plastic pipes is also generally more energy-efficient than the production of, for example, metallic pipes. Plastic pipes have on average about 7 times lower CO2 emissions than steel pipes.
By using plastic pipes, ecological and economic advantages can be achieved. Anyone who compares the product declarations of plastic pipe systems with metallic pipes can see for themselves. And thus make an informed decision for sustainable construction planning and an environmentally conscious product selection.
Environmental Product Declarations and Life Cycle Assessments - two that belong together
Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are two key elements of sustainability in the construction industry that are closely linked. Simplified, one can say that the Environmental Product Declaration is a standardised summary of the results of a Life Cycle Assessment.
The LCA is carried out in four phases
- Goal definition and scope of investigation:
This phase defines the purpose and scope of the LCA, which functions, and system boundaries are considered and which environmental impacts are to be assessed.
- Life cycle inventory:
In this phase, the environmental inputs and outputs of a product or service throughout its life cycle are recorded, such as raw materials, energy, emissions and waste.
- Impact assessment:
In this phase, the potential environmental impacts of the life cycle inventory data are assessed, such as greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication and resource consumption.
In this phase, the results are analysed, reviewed, communicated and used for decision-making.
From the cradle to where? How extensive are the concepts of LCA?
Depending on the building product, there are different approaches to assessing environmental impacts. All start from cradle to grave and differ over the further life cycle of the product.
Cradle to grave:
This approach covers all phases of a product's life, from raw material extraction to production, transport, use and disposal. It shows the complete ecological footprint from beginning to end.
Cradle to gate:
Here, the ecological footprint of a product is recorded until it leaves the factory gate and before it is transported to the consumer. This approach does not take into account further environmental impacts during use and disposal.
Cradle to cradle:
This approach is based on the principle of the circular economy, where products are designed so that they can either be fully recycled or composted at the end of their life cycle. It avoids the generation of waste and promotes the conservation of resources.
For architects, planners, engineers, building owners, facility managers and auditors
Environmental Product Declarations offer benefits to all actors in the construction industry involved in the design, construction and operation of buildings. These include architects, planners, engineers, builders, facility managers and auditors. They can all use the publicly available LCA characteristic values of building products for their own purposes:
- Selecting building products with lower environmental impacts as part of the green procurement process.
- The calculation of the life cycle assessment of buildings or components, taking into account the specific conditions of use and scenarios.
- The verification for sustainability certification of buildings according to national or international standards or programs.
Communicating the environmental performance of buildings or building components to stakeholders or the public.
How does aquatherm support its customers and partners with the LCA?
aquatherm has had an ISO-compliant LCA carried out for four product families, which has been verified by an independent institute. Based on these Life Cycle Assessments, aquatherm provides you with the corresponding EPDs for your projects.
Better environmental properties than other pipe materials
The results show that our pipe system solutions made of polypropylene have clear advantages compared to other materials such as copper or steel with regard to energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and the amount of waste. To further improve the eco-balance of our plastic pipes, we rely on a continuous improvement process in all areas of our value chain. So we don't stand still, but you benefit with us from constantly optimised products - also in terms of sustainability.
You can use our EPDs as evidence for various building certification systems such as LEED, BREEAM or DGNB.
The EPD is an elementary instrument for assessing the environmental impact of building products. It takes into account the entire life cycle of the product and helps to identify and use potentials for the improvement of environmental compatibility. aquatherm therefore supports the customers and partners not only with high-quality plastic pipe systems made of polypropylene for various applications in plant construction and building services, but also with the publication and transparent presentation in Environmental Product Declarations. Thus, together with aquatherm, you make an important contribution to the promotion of sustainable construction.
Watch our explanatory video and learn more about the background and your advantages with Environmental Product Declarations EPD:
Download our free white paper here and learn more about the background and your benefits with Environmental Product Declarations EPD:
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