In the last few weeks, you might have heard about the “Green Claim Directive” (GCD) by the European Commission. This proposal demands companies in Europe back up eco-friendly claims about their products with evidence, under draft rules to get rid of misleading green labels for products.
If the proposal becomes effective, to be promoted as “green” a product will need a science-based assessment to prove that it lives up to the claim, or it will have to be verified under an environmental labelling scheme. With this proposal, the European Commission aims to fight rampant greenwashing in every industry, including building and construction.
EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) is a standardised tool used to assess the environmental performance of building products. As you might know, the Irish Green Building run the EPD Ireland programme which allows Irish manufacturers to develop Environmental Product Declarations for their building products and provide a platform for specifiers to source products with EPD.
EPDs provide transparent information on the product’s life cycle, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal and quantify its environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water usage, and waste generation.
Environmental Product Declarations have become increasingly important in the building industry as more and more consumers and companies prioritise sustainability and environmental responsibility in their purchasing decisions. According to ConstructionLCA, there are now at least 130,000 EPDs for construction products available globally. EPDs can also be used to help building professionals meet green building certification schemes such as LEED, BREEAM and the Home Performance Index. For example, Kilbride Court, a social housing development in Bray, reached the highest level awarded under Home Performance Index certification. 62 materials with EPDs were used.
EPDs might play a significant role in the implementation of the EU Green Claim Directive proposal for building products. The proposal specifically highlights the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a means of providing transparent and credible information about the environmental impact of building products. The GCD also mentions the need for third-party verification performed by an experienced and independent verifier. Both LCA and third-party verification are essential requirements to develop and publish an EPD.
In summary, EPDs are a crucial tool for assessing the environmental impact of building products, and their use is expected to become even more important with the implementation of the EU Green Claim Directive proposal. By providing transparent and standardised information, EPDs can help building professionals and specifiers make informed decisions and promote sustainability in the building industry.
Find out how to develop an EPD and what are the main benefits.