Home Blog The Hot New Topic in the Green Building Industry is Transparency

The Hot New Topic in the Green Building Industry is Transparency

Posted in Blog on Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 1:20 pm No Comments
The Hot New Topic in the Green Building Industry is Transparency

No, this isn’t about glass and shading coefficients. This transparency is about a concept of knowing what effect a material has in the broader context of the environment, social equity, and human health.

If the building industry has access to in depth information on the building products they are choosing. They can make better choices.

What designers need are EPDs, an Environmental Product Declaration. Not green washing. Don’t take a manufacture’s word on it. http://www.environdec.com/

Use an ISO 14025-compliant EPD. This is a third party certified internationally recognized, single comprehensive disclosure of a product’s environmental impact from cradle to grave or its life cycle assessment (LCA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_cycle_assessment .

EPDs like the LEED Rating Systems are often visualized as the nutrition label on a box of cereal. So the consumer, or in this case the designer can make an informed choice between building material products within the same
category.

The only way the building industry  can be sure if their materials EPDs are truly comparing ‘apples to apples’ is to use a consistent set of Product Category Rules (PCR) http://www.climatedec.com/Create/howto/Product-Category-Rules-PCR/ for conducting the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which is the basis for the product’s EPD.

Currently product manufacturers are playing the, ‘which came first the chicken or the egg game’. Some anufacturers are providing EPDs so designers can us them in their specifications. Some are waiting for designers to ask them for an EPD.

LEED 2012 (the latest draft), Architecture 2030, and BREEAM are all calling for products to provide EPDs.

Eventually EPDs will become as common as recycled and regional content in material data sheets.

How does a product manufacture start the EPD process? They have to look at available PCRs. If there aren’t already any relevant PCR, they have to create one. Then the product has to conduct an independent Life Cycle Assessment. The EPD is created using information on the products performance and sustainability with the LCA information. The product manufacturer then submits the EPD to an independent third party for review and verification. This all
takes time. So there is no time like the present to get started.

So start asking for ISO 14025-compliant EPDs from manufactures. Jump start the  manufacture’s process to create
a EPD, if they already don’t have one.

LEED 2012 will be here before you know it.

Linda Smithe, RA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP BD&C