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Article: Why You Should Invest in EPDs

Estimated time to read: 5 minutes

5.10.2023

Growing demand for sustainability

In an era where environmental awareness is at an all-time high, customers seek products that align with their environmental targets. These can be voluntary targets like achieving LEED, DGNB or BREEAM certification, state-defined reporting and reduction goals, as well as government financing for sustainable buildings.

As this demand for sustainability grows, a powerful tool has emerged to assist both consumers and manufacturers in their pursuit of greener choices: Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). In this article, we dive into the realm of EPDs, exploring their nature and the benefits they provide to manufacturers. We explain why the importance and demand for EPDs are growing ever more nowadays.

What is an EPD

Environmental Product Declarations, in short EPDs, serve as comprehensive documents mapping the environmental impact of building materials across their entire lifecycle – from raw material extraction to disposal. To ensure the integrity of these reports, third-party verification is mandatory, providing credibility and trust in the information presented. Generally, an EPD is valid for five years.

There are two main parts an EPD consists of: the background report and the public EPD. The background report, which remains unpublished, delves into detailed calculation methods and granular material flows, encompassing confidential data, while the EPD document summarizes the main findings of the LCA understandably and is released for the public to see. Thus, you can be sure, that no confidential information is displayed for everyone to see. 

Why investing in EPDs pays off for manufacturers

1. Customers expect transparency

In the current era dominated by discussions on climate change, developers, architects and construction companies are increasingly focused on minimizing their environmental footprint. This heightened awareness extends to the construction phase, where companies are assessing the environmental impact of the materials they use. Therefore, they expect manufacturers to provide them with such information. One effective way to fulfill this requirement is to use EPDs, as they provide a comprehensive and trustworthy way to showcase the information. Lifecycle assessments (LCAs) and product carbon footprints (PCFs) can be viewed as a subset of EPD data that focus on specific parts and make reading easier for the customer.

2. Upcoming construction product regulations require compliance

States like Finland, France, Sweden, and the UK already regulate reporting and/or allowed environmental impacts for new buildings. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CDRD) was introduced in the European Union mandating companies fulfilling certain criteria, to disclose their environmental impact. (The criteria include having a balance sheet exceeding €20 million, net sales surpassing €40 million, or having more than 250 employees). Lastly, the construction product regulation (CPR) requires reporting on the global warming potential (GWP) of construction products from 2024 and their whole environmental impact from 2030 in line with the EPD norm (EN 15804). EPDs provide the required product information to comply with these new laws.

3. Increased trust among customers

EPDs must undergo third-party verification, thus the information they present remains resistant to manipulation. This characteristic renders EPDs an exceptional tool for standing out next to your competition and positioning yourself as a sustainability leader in the market, even before regulation requires you to do so. Consequently, this transparency can foster increased trust among potential customers, resulting in increased sales — often even if your service is more expensive than the competition.

4. Actionable support in reaching carbon reduction goals

Users of EPDs can benchmark the environmental impact of materials to check whether their current strategy aligns with set targets. With hotspot and sensitivity analyses, you can find the large reduction levers. Moreover, you can better understand the performance of your competitors and take appropriate action. If the goals are at risk of slipping away, this comparison provides a clear signal to take timely and targeted action.

EPDs are a crucial tool for manufacturers

Investing in EPDs is a strategic move for manufacturers in an environmentally conscious era. With customers demanding transparency and regulations tightening across Europe, EPDs provide a trusted tool for disclosing environmental impacts and become essential for compliance.

Their third-party verification ensures trustworthiness, fostering customer confidence and facilitating benchmarking against competitors. Beyond compliance, EPDs prove instrumental in reaching carbon reduction goals by aligning strategies and prompting timely actions. In conclusion, EPDs are a vital asset, helping users become visible to project developers or planners seeking eco-friendly materials.

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