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If you are looking to learn more about Net Zero, a great place to start is understanding EPDs and how these relate to achieving Net Zero carbon targets. An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document that communicates information about the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. The information is independently verified and allows for comparison between products by designers and specifiers.

EPDs contain information such as the global warming potential (GWP) through the measurement of carbon and other harmful gases emitted throughout stages of a product’s life cycle. This is measured in kgCO2e. Gases other than carbon-dioxide are converted to their equivalent in CO2 (this is what the ‘e’ represents) and these can include refrigerants used in mainstream air conditioning systems for example.

The number of products with EPDs has increased over the last decade and “there are likely now more than 80,000 EPD for construction products globally.” Jane Anderson, ConstructionLCA, Jan 2022

See more details in this infographic created and frequently updated by Jane here

The majority of these are still focused on architectural materials but interiors finishes and products, and building systems products are also on the rise. The more clients and designers ask for them, the quicker they become a priority for manufacturers, the sooner embodied carbon will be reduced.

 

In practice

Designers and specifiers must ask for these from product and material manufacturers and use them to compare between 2-3 suitable options for each specification. Having an EPD can allow the selection of a product/material that has the lowest embodied carbon.

Clients: please target Net Zero in your projects

Designers: please ask for EPDs from manufacturers and suppliers

Manufacturers: please create EPDs for all your products

 

Next steps

There are more environmental issues that matter in the specification of products and materials than embodied carbon but this is a critical issue for this decade. We will also expand on the other issues in the further posts so we can plan for them in all our projects.

 

Hear Elina Grigoriou explain more about EPD’s in this video