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Building assessment schemes

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Building assessment schemes

The interest for environmental declarations in building rating systems and certification schemes has increased in the last few years. This may be due to recognition of EPD benefits such as the life cycle approach, the transparent disclosure of relevant impact categories and the independent verification.

Use of EPDs for Building assessment schemes

The International EPD® System is based on ISO 14025 (environmental declarations) and relevant EPDs and PCRs are compliant with the European standard EN 15804. This type of information may in some cases be used in building assessment schemes to demonstrate knowledge of the life cycle environmental impact of the ingoing construction materials.

As a founding member of ECO Platform and in agreements with established programme operators, the International EPD® System works on harmonization efforts EPDs for construction products across Europe. International EPD® System offers the right to use the ECO Platform logotype on EN 15804-compliant EPDs for construction products during registration.

Why are EPDs suitable for buliding assessment schemes?

EPDs are suitable for building assessment schemes since they are:

  • Based on international standards
  • Include the life cycle perspective (cradle-to-gate or cradle-to-grave, depending on the product)
  • Cover multiple environmental impact categories
  • Are independently verified and aim for comparability within the same product category

How to use EPDs in building assessment schemes

LEED

LEED by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is one of the building assessment schemes that have come the furthest in giving benefits for projects where EPDs are available to encourage the use of products with life-cycle information.

In LEED v4 introduced in November 2013, one or potentially two"points" are possible for projects that have product-specific declarations such as EPDs available and that demonstrates and impact reduction compared to an industry average. More information about EPDs in LEED v4 is available on the USGBC site.

BREEAM

BREEAM has several national implementations where the requirements are somewhat different. Normally, only pre-approved national databases of LCA information are accepted. Currently, BREEAM has national schemes in:

Please contact your local BREEAM national scheme operator for more information about how EPDs for construction products may be used.

GreenStar

GreenStar is a scheme that originated in Australia, but now exists in multiple countries. The different national versions of GreenStar differs somewhat.

HQE

HQE certification is operated by different parties in France and in other countries. For the international scheme operated by Cerway, EPDs are requested both for residential and non-residential buildings, and they are required for the “Performing” and “High Performing” levels.

For non-residential buildings, EPDs based on EN 15804 or ISO 21930 are referenced in criteria 2.3.1, 2.3.2 and 2.3.3 “Choosing construction products in order to limit the environmental impact of the building”. Points are achieved by having EPDs available for a certain share of the components used for finishing, structural/road use. Additional points may be achieved if choices are made and strategies developed to limit environmental impact (especially emissions of carbon dioxide) of the building.

For residential buildings under construction, EPD for construction products based on ISO 21930 or EN 15804 should be part of the information provided from contractors when such information is available.

Miljöbyggnad

Miljöbyggnad is the most commonly used buliding assessment scheme in Sweden. In the upcoming "Miljöbyggnad 3.0", it is currently proposed that EPDs are used to fulfill the silver or bronze level of the criteria related to life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases. More information is available on the website of the Swedish Green Buliding Council (in Swedish).

Other building assessment schemes

There are also other national and international building rating and assessment schemes that may or may not accept EPDs as part of their scope.

EPD for whole building

EPDs are possible to apply to all types of goods and services. It is thus possible to develop and publish an EPD for a whole building, using the PCR 2014:02 Buildings. This PCR refers to the relevant European standard EN 15978 Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method.

An EPD for a building is a transparent declaration of the life cycle impact of the building, and does not contain any assessment of the building as having a "good" or "bad" environmental performance. Such as EPD would thus suit another purpose than the certification schemes, possibly to be used as one input of the assessment done by a building assessment scheme.

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