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11, 2016

Updated characterisation factors for default impact categories

The recommended characterisation factors have recently been updated for the four default impact categories to use in EPDs: Acidification potential, Eutrophication potential, Global warming potential and Photochemical oxidant creation potential. The new main reference is CML 2001, updated January 2016 replacing the previous recommendation to use CML 2001, updated April 2013.

The known changes introduced to this update is the use of new characterisation factors for Climate change, based on information published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013. The differences for some important greenhouse gases are displayed below:

EmissionCML 2001, GWP100, April 2013 (kg CO2 eq./kg)CML 2001, GWP100, January 2016 (kg CO2 eq./kg)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 1 1
Methane (CH4) 25 28*
Nitrous oxide/Dinitrogen oxide (N2O) 298 265
CFC-11 4 750 4 660
HCFC-22 1 810 1 760 
Sulphur hexaflouride (SF6)  22 800 23 500

* Please note that the original source, IPCC (2013), differentiates "Fossil methane" from methane.

An update of characterisation factors may potentially affect absolute and relative results of an LCA study, unless carbon dioxide is the only or dominant greenhouse gase emitted. To manage this transition, the following rules apply:

  • This change does not apply to EPDs for construction products compliant on the European standard EN 15804, as mandatory characterisation factors are already specified in the standard.
  • Currently-published EPDs remain valid and do not need to be updated due to this change in recommendation.
  • New EPDs are expected to use the latest characterisation factors. A transition period will be applied during which EPDs based on the old characterisation factors will also be also accepted. The transition period is introduced not to delay already-ongoing LCA studies, and to allow software providers time to update.
  • All EPDs shall provide references for the source and version characterisation models and factors used in the calculation (General Programme Instructions, Section 4.5.3)
  • If an EPD is updated or the information changed in any way, the organisation should explain, in the revised EPD, the differences versus the previous version of the EPD (General Programme Instructions, Section 4.11). It is important to note that a change in impact due to a change in characterisation factors shall not be communicated as a reduced impact of the product.

If you have any questions, please contact the Secretariat. The main LCA software providers have been contacted to inform them about this updated recommendation.


8, 2016

FAQ: How does the International EPD® System relate to the EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative?

Kristian Jelse

Many EPD stakeholders have heard about and would like to know more about the Product Environmental Footprint. Who is behind the initaitive, how will it be used and how does it relate to long-running voluntary initiatives, such as International EPD® System?

We met with Kristian Jelse, Project Manager for the PCR database and PCR development at the Secretariat to try to answer some of these questions:

What is "PEF"?

- The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is a proposed European methodology for calculating the life cycle environmental impact of products. It is part of the "Single market for Green products" initiative by the European Commission released together with the Organisation Environmental Footprint ("OEF") methodology in April 2013. 

The PEF methodology has been developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It is inspired by (among others) the international standards for Life Cycle Assessment (ISO 14040/14044) and voluntary type III environmental declarations (ISO 14025).

What is the current status of the Product Environmental Footprint?

- The PEF is in a pilot phase between 2013 and 2016, where so-called PEFCR documents and other aspects of the methodology and format of communication will be developed. PEFCRs are the corresponding documents to Product Category Rules (PCR) used for type III environmental declarations in ISO 14025.

Despite the PCRs already available for a large range of product categories, the ongoing pilots have assessed that PCRs based on the ISO standards are currently not valid as PEFCRs (and thus vise-versa) as the two types of documents are based on different rule documents (the PEF Guide versus the ISO standards, and General Programme Instructions of a programme).

How is the International EPD® System involved in this initiative?

- The Secretariat and the Technical Committee of the International EPD® System stay informed and participate in this pilot phase to ensure that knowledge developed during the long history and extensive PCR library of the International EPD® System and from standardisation is taken into account in this testing and update of the proposed methodology.

To date, the Secretariat has chosen to join the Technical Secretariat PEFCR of Intermediate paper products, but is also acting as a stakeholder for all other PEFCR pilots, such as those for food products, where there are many PCRs according to ISO 14025 already available. We have also provided comments during at least one consultation phase on draft PEFCRs of dairy, pasta, wine, paints, detergents, packed water and others in order to encourage harmonization of the new guidance with existing PCRs and the international standards.

What will happen next?

- In parallel with and after the next version of the PEF methodology has been set, a discussion will be had regarding benchmarking, communication vehicles and policy options. Some other questions that remain open are the ongoing operation after the pilot phase, how new product categories are to be included, alignment with existing standards as well as the international application.

Will the International EPD® System be aligned with PEF?

- The International EPD® System is in constant development, why some of the key learnings from the PEF Pilot Phase and updated PEF Guide will likely influence the next major revision of our General Programme Instructions and PCRs. The extent of the harmonization possible will depend upon, among other things, to what extent the outcomes of the PEF initiative are compliant with the international and European standards.

Awaiting the finalization of the pilot phase and the succeeding discussions on how it will be used in Europe, EPDs and the International EPD® System exists as an open, credible, robust and transparent system for companies' voluntary communication of the environmental performance of products on the international markets.

How can I lean more?

- I would like to encourage EPD stakeholders to stay up-to-date with the latest information about EPD and related issues at www.environdec.com. The Secretariat is also available to answer your questions with e-mail or telephone. The European Commission has a website for the PEF initiative, where you can learn more abouy the policy background, ongoing pilots and also find a Q&A.


5, 2016

ECO Platform publishes position paper on PEF

ECO Platform position paper

ECO Platform has recently published a position paper on "the introduction of an EU-initiated PEF-methodology into the construction sector," encouraging cooperation with international standard bodies and partners associated in their work to be accepted on a global scale.

ECO Platform is an International Non-Profit Association established by European EPD Program Operators registering ECO Platform EPDs, European Trade Associations in the construction sector and LCA practitioners.

The position paper may be downloaded from the ECO Platform website.


2, 2016

Vattenfall publish results from social LCA

Swedish power company Vattenfall have updated their EPD for electricity from their Nordic Windfarms. As the first company in the International EPD System, Vattenfall has also included a report of a social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) as an appendix to the EPD. The S-LCA is based on the Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products (UNEP/SETAC, 2009), and the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment (Roundtable for Product Social Metrics 2014). The indicators used are based on the GRI indicators for sustainability reporting. The report has been third-part verified by Elisabeth Ekener, researcher in Social sustainability at KTH – Royal institute of Technology. Vattenfall has previously also published results from social LCA with their EPD for Nordic hydropower.

Read the EPD


1, 2016

Opinion piece published: “There are already vehicles with environmental declarations”

A discussion has been ongoing regarding the environmental impact of electric cars in the Swedish technology-focused magazine and website Ny Teknik. Several of the commenters have asked for credible LCA-based information for the vehicles in order to understand the emissions occuring during the use phase versus the production and end-of-life of the vehicles. Joakim Thornéus and Kristian Jelse at the Secretariat and two mobility experts at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institutes have posted a reply to this discussion with the title “There are already vehicles with environmental declarations.”

The reply explains that the framework for declaring LCA information already exists in the international standards and that other vehicle types, such as trains and trams, have shown that it is possible to perform and communicate LCA results also for complex technical products.

The reply ends with the question: “What car manufacturer will be the first to provide certified environmental declarations on a large scale?”


28, 2016

Saint-Gobain becomes group with most EPDs registered in the International EPD® System

Saint-Gobain becomes group with most EPDs registered in the International EPD® System

With the EPD registrations made in January, Saint-Gobain has now become the company group with the most Environmental Product Declarations published in the International EPD® System. The companies in the group manufactures and distributes building and high-performance materials.

The EPDs registered in the International EPD® System are primarily for Gypsum and Insulation products, but also for mortars and innovative materials. Brands include British Gypsum, Gyproc, Rigips, Isover, Weber, SolarGard and Ecophon. All EPDs published in the recent years are made in compliance with the European standard EN 15804 to provide the Core Product Category Rules.

“We are extremely proud to be the Group with most EPDs registered in the International EPD® System. At Saint-Gobain, we carried out our first LCAs in the early 1990s and since then, we have chosen LCA as the main tool for measuring the environmental footprint of our products.

We provide the results to our customers through verified EPDs so they can use this credible information for their own projects,” says Camillle Fabre, Sustainable Habitat Manager at Saint-Gobain.

The declarations are publically available to any interested stakeholder via the EPD database at www.environdec.com.



18, 2016

Scientific paper shows main reasons for companies adopting the International EPD® System

Scientific paper shows main reasons for companies adopting the International EPD® System

A scientific paper by Ibáñez-Forés et. al was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Cleaner Production. The researchers from the Universitat Jaume I, Castellón and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain have focused on the International EPD® System to investigate the evolution of EPD and PCR, as well as performing a survey among EPD owners.

The study, which was performed without the invovlement of the International EPD® System, showed that the main advantages of EPDs in International EPD® System for companies are to:

  • communicate objective information,
  • improve the corporate image, and
  • communicate large amounts of environmental information.

The main drawback for the application of EPDs was identified as the lack of knowledge about EPD by consumers.

"We are happy to learn that the advantages of the International EPD® System are highlighted by companies and in this scientific paper. Our increased focus on events and activities to improve the knowledge of EPDs also appear to be fully aligned with the conclusions of the researchers," says Joakim Thornéus at the EPD International Secretariat 

The article is available for purchase online via ScienceDirect. The full reference to the paper is:

  • Ibáñez-Forés V, Pacheco-Blanco B, Capuz-Rizo SF, Bovea MD, Environmental product declarations: Exploring their evolution and the factors affecting their demand in Europe, Journal of Cleaner Production (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.12.078.


Note: The EPD statistics analysed in Chapter 4 of the paper appear to only cover EPDs currently published at www.environdec.com. EPDs that have been published and later de-registered would thus not be included in the statistics. This would especially be the case for EPDs published in the 1990's and early 2000's, why the recent growth in EPD registrations may be somewhat overestimated. The Secretariat has reached out to the authors to clarify this point, even though it is unlikely that it will affect their conclusions.


15, 2016

Two updated PCRs: Books & Fertilizers

PCRs Books and Fertilizers

Two Product Category Rules (PCR) have recently been updated:

  • Mineral and chemical fertlizers
  • Books, in print

The PCRs were updated according to the PCR process described in the General Programme Instructions of the International EPD® System, based on ISO 14025. The development of the PCRs was led by the PCR Moderators Monica de la Cruz (Oficina Life+ Ecoedición), and Germana Olivieri (LCA–lab srl)/Federico Tonelli (SCAM S.p.A), respectively. Stakeholders were invited to provide comments on draft versions during an open consultation.

The PCRs are now once again available for any company in the industry to develop and register an EPD of their products. They are available to download from the PCR database in the International EPD® System (www.environdec.com/PCR).


5, 2016

Record number of EPD registrations in 2015

EPD registrations

A record number of 139 EPDs were registered in the International EPD® System in 2015, breaking the previous record with more than 20 additional EPD registrations in a single year.

About half of the EPD registrations were for Construction products, followed by the product categories Food and agriculture products; Wood and paper products; Electricity; Transport vehicles and equipment. The main countries for EPD registrations were Italy, Sweden, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Argentina and Australia.

Nine new Product Category Rules (PCR) were published during the year, introducing the possibility to do EPDs for product categories such as lifts, yachts, cosmetics and passenger commercial aeroplanes. Another 29 PCRs were updated to ensure that the guidance they provide is up-to-date with the latest developments.


4, 2016

Updated PCR Basic Modules

The PCR Basic Modules have now been updated, and published at www.environdec.com. PCR Basic Modules are the document intended to be used as templates for PCR development, as one of the ways to raise quality and alignment of PCRs in the International EPD® System.

This has been a significant update to ensure:

  • Compliance with the General Programme Instructions version 2.5, published in 2015
  • Use of the PCR template by the Guidance for PCR development initiative
  • Application of best practice PCR development
  • Incorporation of policy decisions taken by the programme during previous PCR reviews

These PCR Basic Modules are available to any stakeholder with a (free) user name at www.environdec.com, and are intended to be used for PCR development within the framework of the International EPD® System.

Any comments or questions regarding the PCR Basic Modules may be sent to the Secretariat.



18, 2015

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays!(2)

The Secretariat wishes you all a successful 2016 and happy holidays!


17, 2015

Registrations from the Czech Republic to be handled by the EPD International Secretariat

From January 1st 2016, EPD registrations and helpdesk requests from companies in the Czech Republic will be handled by the EPD International Secretariat instead of via CENDEC as the local EPD registration office. The reason for this change is that CENDEC has requested to focus on a role as LCA practitioners and independent verifiers.

There are currently nine EPDs registered from the Czech Republic for construction products and chemical products.




Přihlášky z České republiky, aby byly zpracovány mezinárodního sekretariátu EPD

Od 1. ledna EPD registrací a žádosti helpdesk od společností v České republice budou zpracovány Mezinárodní sekretariát EPD namísto přes CENDEC jako místní ohlašovny EPD. Důvodem této změny je, že CENDEC požádal soustředit na roli LCA praktiky a nezávislých ověřovatelů.

V současné době existuje devět registrovaných EPD z České republiky, pro stavební výrobky a chemických výrobků. 


14, 2015

PCR for Tanning chemicals published


Product Category Rules (PCR) for declaring the life-cycle environmental impact of Tanning chemicals have now been published in the International EPD® System. This document is the first known PCR according to ISO 14025 for the product group, and enables any company in the industry to develop and register an EPD to be used for a wide range of applications, such as as one part of the environmental management system or in business-to-business communication.

The PCR was developed according to the PCR process described in the General Programme Instructions of the International EPD® System, based on ISO 14025. The development of the PCR was led by Federico Brugnoli at Spin 360 Srl as the PCR Moderator. During the development of the document, it has been subject to open consultation on www.environdec.com as well as a review by the Technical Committee as the appointed review panel.



9, 2015

Reminder: Winter holiday schedule of the EPD International Secretariat

At the end of December, the EPD International Secretariat will have a limited availability compared to normal due to public holidays. The period affected is December 23rd until January 8th.

In order for an EPD to be guaranteed to be published before the end of the year, it should be submited to registration@environdec.com no later than December 18th.

The Secretariat wishes all EPD stakeholder on the Northern hemisphere a very pleasant winter holiday, and a very nice summer for those on the Southern hemisphere!


4, 2015

Folkhem registers first EPD for a whole building

EPD Folkhem

Folkhem has become the first company to register the first EPD® of a whole building in the International EPD® System. The EPD declares the impact per square meter temperature controlled spaces of a concept building, located in Stockholm and consisting of 10 floors. The bottom level and half of the 2nd floor are below ground level are of concrete, while the other floors above ground level consists mainly of solid wood.

"Calculating and communicating the life cycle environmental impact of a whole building is an interesting new product group for EPDs, says Joakim Thornéus, programme manager of the International EPD® System. We are happy to see that Folkhem chose to be a forerunner and provide this type of information for their different stakeholders."

The EPD® has undergone verification by an approved verifier, and checked against the Product Category Rules (PCR) for buildings. This PCR was published in 2014, and aims for compliance with the European standards EN 15804 and EN 15978.