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What is an EPD? What are the Advantages of an Environmental Product Declaration? 

In terms of development and consumer behavior, sustainability is an important metric for mitigating the effects of global climate change and reducing the impact businesses have on the environment. An Environmental Product Declaration is known as an EPD. 

Environmental Product Declarations are documents that quantitatively evaluate and declare the environmental performance of a product or service defined in accordance with ISO 14025. Environmental product declarations are critical for exports to Europe. This document outlines how the product impacts the environment. In this article, we show you how to obtain an environmental product declaration for cement in the building materials sector.

What are the Parameters for Obtaining an EPD?

An Environmental Product Declaration is an independently verified and certified document that provides transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of a product. As part of the “Life Cycle Analysis”, the ecological footprint of economic activities and the results of various emission measurements are taken into account. It is a declaration that quantitatively evaluates and sets forth environmental performance in accordance with pre-specified categories based on parameters established within the framework of ISO 14040. 

These categories are:

  • Raw material output,
  • Energy consumption and efficiency,
  • Material and chemical content,
  • Emissions to air, water and soil,
  • Waste generation,

A PCR Product Classification Scheme is used to create EPDs. The process looks something like this:

  1. Materials and life cycle are defined, 
  2. Materials are classified,
  3. Materials and products used in preparation are specified ,
  4. Manufacturing process is described ,
  5. Processing is explained,
  6. Information about usage is collected,
  7. Options for reuse are outlined,
  8. Life Cycle Analysis is conducted,
  9. Limiting conditions for the system and data are collected,
  10. Life Cycle Analysis results (Environmental impact indicators) are specified,
  11. Inspections and approval, 

What are the Benefits of EPDs? Why are EPDs important?

Beginning in 2013, the European Construction Products Regulation began requesting EPD certificates defined in the sustainability norms for buildings in Europe and compliant with EN 15804. EPDs ensure and document the sustainable use of resources in the manufacture of construction materials. Products that meet these criteria are marked with the letters ‘CE’.

The manufacture of construction products is investigated using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) studies which form the basis of EPD documentation. Furthermore, the environmental impact of the supply chain is also examined. The entire manufacturing process is put under the microscope during the process of obtaining the EPD certificate, which is also an opportunity to develop new policies. EPDs form the basis of approaches to eco-design when it comes to energy and resource efficiency.  


Figure 1: Çimsa Super White EPD

What is a Life Cycle Analysis?

One of the most important steps required to create an Environmental Product Declaration is the life cycle analysis. The life cycle analysis is a tool used to assess and measure lifetime environmental impact.  It is included in the declaration as the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). LCA is scientifically calculated based on every step from raw material and manufacture to distribution and use. Life cycle analysis is a methodology that identifies the environmental impact of products, processes and services during manufacture, use and disposal. It is based on ISO 14040.

The data that must be collected to calculate LCA in the cement sector are as follows:

  • Raw material,
  • Semi-finished goods,
  • Blends,
  • Energy Consumption,
  • Water Consumption,
  • Emissions (Dust, Nox, CO2, SO2, TOC),
  • Waste (Process wastes that remain within limits, the amounts and at what step they are created),

Environmental product declarations are based on LCA reports. The life cycle analysis can measure the impact of a building’s useful life. The impact of a single material in a building can also be measured with an LCA.  

What Information is Found on EPD Certificates? 

Although LCA reports are found on Environmental Product Declarations, EPD certificates actually contain much more comprehensive information. The following information is found in EPD documentation: 

  • Product Descriptions (use of and physical data for the structure)
  • Basic materials used (raw materials, additives, the source of materials, etc.)
  • Production process (occupational health and safety, environmental protection, etc.)
  • Product Processing (environmental protection, occupational health, waste, etc.)
  • Usage information (content of materials, durability, etc.)
  • Exceptional circumstances (exposure to fire or water, etc.)
  • Post-occupancy (reclamation, disposal, etc.)
  • Verification (depending on the product being declared)

Understanding the Growing Importance of EPDs 

Construction materials certified with an EPD add points to green building certification systems such as LEED, BREEAM and DGNB, which are currently being on the agenda in Turkey. EPD certificates for a building can document quantitative environmental indicators such as the carbon footprint and energy and water consumption based on the usage area.  Manufacturers of construction products can also use them to demonstrate how environmentally friendly they are by declaring their environmental impact within the scope of corporate responsibility.  

In addition, they are important in terms of compliance with European Union directives and for explaining the environmental performance of their construction materials. EPD certificates and life cycle analyses are viewed as a basic tool in creating sustainable buildings. 

The first EPD obtained in Turkey was obtained by Çimsa for white cement. Similarly, Çimsa led the sector by obtaining the first EPD certificate for calcium aluminate cement. Click the following link to review our EPD certificates. 

References Used:

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