British Precast Publishes Two Environmental Product Declaration

11 Jul 2018

The next frontier in the crusade to cut construction’s carbon emissions is likely to be environmental product declarations (EPDs) – and precast concrete has already taken a lead.

An EPD is created following a life cycle assessment (LCA) of a product. While other environmental measures used by the construction industry to date, such as BREEAM and LEED, have focused on reducing waste and cutting operational energy of buildings, little attention has been paid to the more complex issue of carbon emissions involved in extraction of raw materials, manufacturing of products and transport to site – often known as embodied carbon.

That is set to change. With the BRE Green Guide, which provides environmental information on building products to specifiers, set to be discontinued in the early 2020s, EPDs are likely to assume greater prominence when assessing the carbon footprint of construction projects.

An EPD is essentially a declaration of data on over 20 environmental indicators. The data set most commonly referenced is the global warming potential (GWP), commonly known as the carbon footprint, though other indicators include ozone depletion, use of fresh water and acidification potential. This data can then be used in an environmental rating system such as BREEAM, where there are credits available for EPDs.

British Precast worked closely with sustainability consultants thinkstep on developing a life cycle assessment tool for the purpose of producing verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in accordance with BS EN 15804: 2012 +A1 (2013). The tool created is robust and accurate but also user friendly for manufacturers of any size. The tool has an extensive list of over 50 material inputs covering all the commonly used aggregates, cements, reinforcements and admixtures.

The tool has been externally verified by the Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. (IBU) and a number of generic EPDs across British Precast have been published using the tool and data from product association members.
British Precast Architectural and Structural has published two EPDs to date as part of this project.

The declared units for the two EPDs are 1m3 of precast concrete ground beam and 1m2 of precast concrete cladding panel. The two EPDs are association declarations which use manufacturing data from member companies of British Precast Architectural & Structural and a defined mix design to form a sector average.

For more information visit the Sustainability section of our website.