As environmental challenges keep topping the agenda of the construction industry, there’s a need for clear-cut data: is the used product in the construction project environmentally sound or not? Environmental Product Declarations help out to assess this.
An EPD is a voluntary, transparent, and well-established declaration that presents comparable and verified environmental life cycle performance information of product and services.
EPDs support constructors, building contractors and planners in gaining a better understanding of the environmental issues related to construction products and materials. EPDs are needed since the environmental impact of a product during its life cycle has become crucial information when assessing the environmental impact of buildings and other construction work.
The life cycle approach
At Tikkurila, one of the key components that has been invested in is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software tool that supports the EPD generation process.
The LCA is a method for assessing / analysing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of a product throughout the entire life cycle of the building. Nowadays product manufacturers often deploy a software that allows for the creation of an EPD-document that covers the impact of raw materials’ production, transportation, manufacturing, and end-of-life stage – usually excluding the stage in which the product is in use. The use phase is excluded for paints and coatings because of the nature of these products. For another product, like an oven, the use phase is important in the life cycle assessment.
Relying on a life cycle approach supported by published EPDs provides opportunities to compare the environmental performance against other similar product EPDs.
For designers and architects, the LCA also offers intriguing opportunities to develop products further. Since it is possible to consider and compare for example the climate impact while choosing various components, the overall process becomes a lot more sustainable. In essence, the LCA benefits the whole planet in addition to actual designers and architects.
Wanted: Greener design
Today, EPDs are made primarily for business-to-business use, but the information is available for anyone who is interested in the environmental impact of the verified products. One important demographic that has embraced EPDs are the “green builders”: EPDs are also required in leading sustainable certificates such as LEED or BREEAM. The climate impact can also be measured and reported with the help of EPDs which can give points to builders in future projects of so-called green buildings.
An architect may simply start off a project by setting the desired sustainable parameters for products that have an EPD, and then make the final selection from the “green short list” that meets the criteria.
No specific PCR for paint
Paint manufacturers are keen on EPDs, too. For example, Tikkurila presently has a total of 25 products that have received the declaration, verified by a third party. The newest products with a declaration are Tikkurila, Beckers and Alcro wall and ceiling paints.
At the moment there are no specific PCR (Product Category Rules) for paint as such, the current declarations are based on construction material calculation rules. Paint is a thin coat so it’s quite different from other construction materials, like concrete. An EPD for a paint product is calculated for a functional unit, which can be mass (kg), volume (liter) or surface area (m2). When comparing EPDs, it is important to keep an eye on the functional unit, to be sure that the comparison is fair. The functional unit for the Tikkurila EPDs is liter, which normally is the unit when ordering paint.
When the full impact calculation is made for the construction project, all materials are multiplied by the amount used and added to a total. The paint is a comparably small amount in a construction project.
Type III EPDs – what does it mean?
An EPD is a so-called type III environmental declaration that is compliant with the ISO 14025 standard. A type III environmental declaration is created and registered in the framework of a programme, such as RTS EPD Environmental Product Declaration. EPDs registered in the International EPD System are publicly available and free to download through the EPD Library.
All published EPDs are type III EPDs. These can be product specific, industry wide or average EPDs covering products with a GWP variance of less than 10%.
The published Tikkurila EPDs contain the key environmental values for each of the environmental impact categories and also brings forward the environmental impacts in each phase of the life cycle withing the scope of the EPD.
Targeting relevant transparency
Through the declarations, product manufacturers can offer more transparent information on the environmental performance of their paints, and have a hand in building the sustainable communities of tomorrow.
As the demand for EPDs keeps growing, paint manufacturers such as Tikkurila receive more inquiries for verified information about products’ environmental impact in all the market areas including Sweden, Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Ireland, and Denmark.
The inquiries come from leading construction companies, but also design companies are very interested in the quantified environmental impacts that the EPDs present about the products. Tikkurila is committed to taking nature’s limited resources into account in its business.
The efforts towards sustainable development will continue as Tikkurila wants to have a positive impact on the living environment and people’s well-being.
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