The environmental product declaration or EPD is an environmental declaration of construction materials or products that contains information about the environmental impact of the product's life cycle. Compilation of EPDs is carried out in the following steps:
Before the preparation of the EPD can really begin, there are a few very important questions to be discussed.
First, it is necessary to decide for which products the EPD will be performed. Products with similar function, effects, composition and manufacturing process may be grouped together and presented as a single average product. If the products are very different from each other, it may also be possible that they need to be presented on different EPDs.
Another important issue is the choice of program operator. The EPD publication is the last stage of the process at the program operator. However, the program operator must be selected in advance, because they also have different requirements regarding the format of the EPD documents (and some additional indicators) and this must be taken into account when performing the analysis.
As the third point, the declaration unit for which the calculations are to be made must be selected. For certain products, the declaration unit is determined by some standard, for others there are no instructions. The usual declaration units are kg, m2 or m3.
The EPD Program Operator is the authority responsible for the accuracy of the EPD publication process. In addition to the EN 15804 standard, the various operators have specific instructions and rules on how to compile an EPD for publication on their platform. The rules are, for example, what specific information must be reflected on the EPD or on what basis the products may be classified on the EPD. Each operator also has a list of qualified persons who can provide the third party verification service. Verification is a mandatory part of publishing an EPD.
Data analysis and calculations
The preparation of an EPD can be completed either within your company or with the help of an external service provider, such as LCA Support. In both cases, the process should consist of the following steps:
An analysis should first be made about how many EPDs need to be classified. Considering the specifics of the company's product, the number of factories and the location of the factories, a decision must be made on how to classify the products on the EPDs. Different program operators have their own rules on how products should be classified. It usually depends on differences in the production process of the products, the raw materials and the CO2 footprint.
Next, it is necessary to collect a variety of data necessary for LCA modelling. According to the standard, full-year information should be used, including the total amount of raw materials used in the plant(s), the amount of energy and water required, the type of waste generated, and annual production volumes by product category.
The LCA model is compiled from the raw data, which is the input to the calculations, which results in information on the product's environmental footprint. The calculation of the results is presented together with all the assumptions made and background information about the production process in the EPD background report. The report must also be prepared in accordance with the requirements of the standard and program operator and is required for the verification of the EPD. LCA calculations must be performed with a software and environmental data that are both approved by the program operator.
The third party verification of an EPD is performed by a person approved by the EPD program operator. If your company is compiling the EPD in-house then it must also arrange the verification and then correct any errors identified during the inspection of the EPD and its background report. Otherwise, the EPD will not be signed by the verifier and the EPD cannot be published.
The quality of the EPD significantly effects the length of the verification process. A well produced EPD takes only a few business days to verify, but inspection of a poor quality EPD can take months, and possibly the verifier might refuse to sign the verification report.
In order to publish an EPD, it is necessary to submit a corresponding application to the EPD program operator, which contains all the required documents, including a signed verification report. The operator checks the accuracy of the application and the preparation of the EPD at regular meetings by a committee appointed for this purpose. If deficiencies are found, the EPD creator has an obligation to correct them otherwise the EPD will not be published.
Publication of EPDs
Once the EPD is proven, it can be published. Usually, the program operator also reviews the EPD and background report, and if everything fits, it goes to publication.
When publishing, it must be taken into account that the program operators want a fee for it. The amounts and their calculation principles are very different.
Depending on the program, publication may take up to one month.
Once published, the EPD can be found in the program operator's database.
Here you can see, which Estonian producers have already prepared an EPD for themselves.
Scheme of EPD development until publication