As mentioned in one of our webpages, an EPD — environmental product declaration — is a document that presents the environmental performance of a product. The EPD must be made according to the ISO 14025 Type III standard and can be compliant with other standards, for instance, the EN 15804 and required external verification. For making an EPD we follow our straightforward EPD process. It consists of seven steps and is outlined in the diagram below.
The first step in the EPD process is to discuss the scope of the EPD. This includes discussions about the number of products to be included in the EPD, variations, life cycle stages, and the type of standard and certification to be used. Once these details have been set, a budget and a timeline can be agreed upon, and we are ready to officially begin with the process.
2. Data Collection
Based on the agreed scope, data collection is necessary to create the life cycle model (LCA model). This is known as the life cycle inventory (LCI) and is the second step of the EPD process.
Data is usually collected by the commissioner of the study with the support of Ecomatters. A data questionnaire is prepared with all the necessary data items to be collected. Depending on the goal and scope of the project, data collection may include product manufacturing (raw materials, product characteristics, utilities, waste, etc.), logistics (modes and distances), and product use and disposal data. In general, data collection would cover primary data inputs and outputs from all the life cycle stages under control of the company commissioning the study.
Once the data collection questionnaire is delivered back to Ecomatters, we process the data and create the LCA models according to the agreed reference standard (e.g. the EN 15804). During this step, when needed, we may discuss with our client the LCA model and assumptions if relevant.
Third-party databases, such as the Ecoinvent database, statistics, assumptions, and other generic data sources, are used to model parts of the system outside the control of the commissioner, such as the production of raw materials, supply of energy, or end-of-life treatment.
4. Results and Interpretation
LCA software is used to construct the model, and to calculate the results of the study. The input and output flows are translated into actual environmental impacts (i.e. climate change, eutrophication potential, etc.). The results of the study include the product footprint for all selected impact categories, but also disaggregated results per life cycle stage, manufacturing process, or activity.
This step also includes the interpretation of the results, leading to the identification of environmental issues through the value chain. Conclusions and recommendations are given, in accordance with the goal and scope of the project, to substantiate the environmental claim.
5. LCA Report and EPD Document
An LCA report and EPD documentation compliant with the reference standard is written. The LCA report is a comprehensive document including all the methodological aspects and results of the study and thus has a high level of detail. As mentioned before, an EPD ISO 14025 requires external verification from a 3rd party verifier.
Besides the report, an EPD document needs to be created as well. This is the EPD document that will be published in the program operator website, as well as on the certification body website (e.g. ECO platform website), and is the document that clients can publish through their communication channels. This document has a lesser level of detail in comparison with the LCA report. However, it also needs to be 3rd party verified.
6. EPD and LCA Report: Review and Validation
At Ecomatters, we manage the entire process of EPD creation, being also accountable for the verification process. For this, we rely on a broad network of partners for 3rd party verification.
Once the LCA report and EPD documents are ready, we send them to the 3rd party reviewer. The verifier is responsible for checking and reviewing that the documentation is compliant with the and ISO 14025 and the agreed reference standard (e.g. the EN 15804). The Verifier will provide us with review feedback, including suggestions of modifications, implementation of additional information in the report, etc.
After implementing the feedback, the Verifier will provide us with a review statement for the EPDs to get certified.
7. Certification and Registration
Once the review statement is received, the EPD documents can be submitted along with the review statement to the Program operator to get the certification and register the EPDs in the platform (for example in the ECO platform).
EPD System Program
As mentioned in the EPD page, in order to produce an EPD type III, a program operator is necessary. A program operator can be a company or a group of companies, industrial sector or trade association, public authorities or agencies, or an independent scientific body or other organization. They are responsible for verifying the EPD and managing the platform (e.g. ECO Platform) on which it is published.
The EPD system program operator is an independent agency whose role is to conduct, administer, and supervise the development of a type III EPD. Therefore, it is responsible for the development and/or identification of existing product category rules needed for an EPD. Usually, each country has its own program operator(s) and thus their own EPD system. Some of the European EPD systems and their country of origin are:
- Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. (IBU) Germany
- Inies FDES France
- EPD Danmark from Denmark
- EPD Norge Norway
- International EPD® System Sweden
- BRE United Kingdom.
- Global EPD Spain
- ITB-EPD Poland
- Bau EPD Austria
- DAP construccion Spain
- EPD Italy Italy
- DAPHabitat Portugal
- ZAG EPD Slovenia
- EPD Ireland Ireland
- MRPI the Netherlands
- PEP Eco passport
The ECO Platform
With the purpose of harmonization for verification of environmental information (EPDs type III) in the construction sector, the ECO Platform was developed. This EPD system is valid across Europe for this sector. This platform is an international Non-Profit Association whose main goal is to act as an umbrella organization for EPD Programme Operators in Europe that harmonizes European EPD Programs. Currently, the more important program operators in Europe support the ECO platform. The ECO Platform issues ECO Platform EPDs (ECO EPDs). An ECO EPD allows for recognition across Europe and can be used not only in the European market but also in international markets.
Ecomatters has a long track record of supporting companies in making EPDs. We have a solid relationship with many program operators in Europe. We have specific expertise with the ECO Platform and are here to support you in completing the EPDs you need. Our flexible team can advise and guide you through the process of doing an EPD and take all steps and activities off your hands. Get in contact with us for more information.