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Alphabet Soup Series, Part 12 of Many: EPD: Environmental Product Declaration

Elizabeth Baldwin

Learn this one: EPD. That's an Environmental Product Declaration and it's the new hot way of evaluating the "greenness" of a product. EPDs are going to be increasingly important in your green building future.

In life cycle assessments (LCA), an EPD helps quantify the environmental impact of a product or system.

In life cycle assessments (LCA), an EPD helps quantify the environmental impact of a product or system. EPDs often include information on the environmental impact of raw material acquisition (harvesting or mining, for example), energy use and efficiency (in production or sometimes in shipment), content of materials and chemical substances (we'll see the formaldehyde issue raise its head here perhaps), emissions to air, soil and water and waste generation. Some may factor in recycling/disposal issues or the carbon sink factor.

The new LEED system (LEED V4) is pushing EPDs as a means of evaluating the entire environmental impact of various material choices. Many companies have already created their own EPDs, and a number of associations, including AHEC and the NWFA, are looking at creating ones for their industries.

Here are some good resources for wood EPD information:

From the American Wood

From the American Hardwood Export

From NSF

This site has some good webinars on these new rating tools. It compares an LCA and an EPD as follows:

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique for analyzing the entire life cycle of a product or process. The term 'life cycle' refers to the major activities in the course of the product's life span from its manufacture, use, and maintenance, to its final disposal, including the raw material acquisition required to manufacture the product.

Environmental product declarations (EPDs) hold out the promise of disclosure of the environmental performance of products in such a way that the consumer can make side-by-side comparisons of different products, much like a nutrition label does.

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