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The sustainability of buildings is becoming progressively important and is increasingly standardised in law or considered in tenders. But how can the implementation of building projects be objectively evaluated and compared? There are various certification systems for this purpose, such as LEED, BREEAM and DGNB. For designers, planners, engineers and builders, knowledge about this is fundamental. In this blog article, we will show you what influence Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), Product Category Rules (PCR) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) have on sustainability certification, and why you should rely on aquatherm as a comprehensive sustainable solution for your piping systems.
Sustainability assessment criteria – Important facts
Environmental Product Declarations create transparency in the construction industry about the environmental impact of products, such as plastic pipe systems. They help to compare products to make informed decisions. EPDs therefore make a substantial contribution to sustainable construction. Here is an overview of the meaning, application, and interrelationships.
What are Product Category Rules (PCR)?
The Product Category Rules (PCR) define the requirements for the preparation of EPD for a specific product category. They also contain the specifications for carrying out the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the selection of environmental indicators, the presentation of the results, and their verification. The aim of the PCR is to ensure that similar products are objectively assessed in the same way so that subsequent EPDs are comparable and verifiable. There are more than 180 different categories for which PCR have been issued. Sources of published Product Category Rules include the International EPD System's PCR Library, the Environmental & Development Foundation's PCR Public Library, and UL’s Product Categories (PCRs).
What is meant by Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the method of quantifying the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle. This means from the extraction of raw materials to production, transport, use, disposal, or recycling. LCA considers various aspects such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, waste generation, and toxicity. As described, the LCA is based on standardised data collection according to the Product Category Rules. Techniques used in LCA are described in ISO 14040 "Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework", and ISO 14044 "Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Requirements and guidance". A LCA considers either the entire life cycle of a product or parts of it. Therefore, a distinction is made between three different approaches to assessing the product life cycle:
- Cradle to grave
- Cradle to gate
- Cradle to cradle
The pipe systems of aquatherm are evaluated according to the concept "cradle to gate". In addition, the aquatherm EPDs also include modules C (disposal phase) and D (next product system) in accordance with the requirements of the revised standard EN 15804+ A2.
What is the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?
The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document that contains information on the main environmental impacts of a product, as well as other details such as technical data or information on product manufacture. The standards on which the EPD is based are ISO 14025 and EN 15804 for construction products. The Environmental Product Declaration is verified and registered by an independent body and is your proof of the sustainability of a product you use in your construction project.
Trust is good, testing is better: Environmental Product Declarations of the aquatherm product lines
In order to evaluate and minimise the environmental impact of our products, we at aquatherm have had environmental product declarations drawn up in accordance with the above-mentioned international standards.
How does LEED help to assess sustainability?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognised certification system for sustainable buildings developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). With LEED, you rate your building according to various criteria such as energy efficiency, water consumption, material selection, space quality, and site development. The more environmentally friendly your building scores in the criteria, the more points it receives. Depending on the number of points (credits) achieved, your building can receive one of the four certification levels:
- Certified 40 – 49 points
- Silver 50 – 59 points
- Gold 60 – 79 points
- Platinum 80 + points
The current version, LEED v4.1, was introduced in 2019. LEED v4.1 has made a number of changes and improvements from previous versions, including in the area of materials and resources (MR Materials and Resources). In this area, buildings are rated according to the use of environmentally friendly and health-friendly building products.
Points or credits are awarded in these criterions for LEED certification:
- Integrative Process
- Location and Transportation
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental
- Regional Priority
With aquatherm's Environmental Product Declarations, your building is eligible for points under the LEED v4.1 rating system. The special feature: our EPD, verified by independent third parties, contributes twice as much as the industry-wide (generic) declaration in terms of LEED product value, and contributes four times as much as a manufacturer's self-certified product-specific declaration. For you, this means a better environmental rating.
How do you use Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) in your project planning?
If you are planning a sustainable building project, EPDs for building materials, building products and building components are the most important factor in the sustainability assessment of your building. This is because the EPDs provide you with the basic information that is relevant for building certification. You can obtain the EPDs directly from manufacturers such as aquatherm or retrieve them from international as well as country-specific databases.
According to the German Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. (IBU), "Internationally recognised EPDs (...) are therefore important cornerstones for building certification systems such as DGNB, BNB, BREEAM and LEED." As the IBU describes on its website, EPDs not only enable you to carry out Life Cycle Assessments and evaluate buildings, but also to plan them integrally. Architects and professional planners can use EPDs to compare different building components, construction methods, and options already in the design phase, which therefore selects the ideal combination of building products for the building in question.
As a manufacturer of plastic piping systems, aquatherm provides you with the Environmental Product Declarations for your project, so simplifies the sustainability assessment and certification of your building. With our EPDs, we create an added value for you regarding sustainable solutions of your pipe system and your eco-balance. In this way, you not only contribute to a better future with us, but also gain future security for your property.
Download our free document here to learn more about the background and your benefits with EPDs.
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