Environmental product declarations (EPDs)
An EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. The relevant standard for Environmental Product Declarations is ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 14025, where they are referred to as “type III environmental declarations.” A broad range of life-cycle impacts is quantified in the EPD, including:
Life cycle analysis, including global warming, ozone, acidification and eutrophication potential
Resource use, including all primary and secondary energy inputs and use of fresh water
Waste categories and output flows
EPDs allow a project team to assess a product by different criteria, all of which are verified to a high degree of transparency. It is important to note that an EPD does not require full disclosure of all product ingredients, but only whether or not there are “substances of concern.”
The program is relatively new, and though the parameters are international, there has been more uptake of the program in Europe and Asia to date. However, there appears to be a fair bit of momentum behind standardized EPDs, and they will likely begin to fill an important role in the marketplace in North America and globally. If there were EPDs available for every product on the market, the work of sustainable design teams would be greatly simplified.
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The Declare program is a project of the International Living Future Institute (also responsible for the Living Building Challenge), and the program is marketed as a “nutri-tion-label for products.” It delivers succinct, easy-to-understand information about the product, including:
The information given on a Declare label is not as thorough as an EPD’s, but it does give full disclosure of all ingredients, which can help teams trying to meet high criteria for indoor environment quality.