|A building fulfilling the criteria for sustainable development should take into consideration the occupants as well as its surrounding environment, and that during its entire life cycle – from construction until the demolition. The materials used for the construction and the interior installations decide for an important part about how the criteria are fulfilled.
In order to have an easier orientation in the offer of materials, products, and also services in regard to the ecological burden the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) declaration has been introduced. The task group Sustainable Materials, which has been formed within the Czech Green Building Council (CZGBC), focuses on the usage of EPD in the Czech Republic.
What is the EPD?
EPD is the Environmental declaration about a product (Environmental Product Declaration). It is a so-called declaration of the third type, where companies declare „an analysis of measurable information about the impact of the product (products or services) on the environment during its life cycle“. The basic characteristic of EPD, in which it differs of regular ecological labeling, is that it is based on the scientific and relatively objective method of life cycle assessment (LCA). Being subject to independent third party verification contributes to the objectivity of the assessment.
Exactly therefore the CZGBC Sustainable Materials task group supports EPD as a fair and transparent way of reporting the environmental characteristics of construction materials.
The principal of issuing EPD
On the markets, where this concept is already better developed, exist renowned professional organizations, which overlook the issuing of declarations, the so-called EPD program operators. For instance in France is this for the area of construction CSTB, in Germany IBU and in Great Britain BRE. Those organizations issue so-called Product Category Rules (PCR), which define, what is needed to include in the EPD for a certain type of a product. Based on these rules companies then prepare their product declarations (usually they have them elaborated by specialized consultants) and let them verify by independent certifying bodies (which are not related to the organization which issued the PCR).
The ECO-EPD initiative
The higher described system however causes that manufacturers often have to have elaborate several EPDs for one product – in case they export it to more countries. Of course this is costly and also useless. This is why the initiative ECO-EPD came into existence which aims to have European key players in this area agree on some kind of European „core EPD“ for the construction industry which would be mutually recognizable between more states. In this way the whole system would become significantly more efficient and more attractive. It is possible (and according to many also desirable), that this area will be in the future harmonized within the legal EU framework. Until then the initiative ECO-EPD should be a solution for the situation.
Situation in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic the EPD program is organized according to the Guidelines of the National Program for Environmental Labeling published in the Journal of the Ministry of the Environment 8/2007. For now there does not exist an institution as BRE or IBU in the Czech Republic, not only for the building industry, but also for the other industries. There do exist certifying bodies which can verify EPD (for instance VÚPS), but a body (an organization) which would issue PCR according to which EPD should be verified lacks. Therefore currently this is solved by using PCR from foreign countries (for instance from Sweden or Germany).
Taking into consideration the lack of existence of an adequate organization in the Czech Republic, temporarily the CZGBC Task group Sustainable Materials has taken this on.
During the last months a broader Task group is being shaped with a focus on the creation of a professional organization which would connect fully to the European Network. We will inform you about the further development.
The CZGBC Task Group Sustainable Materials
Author: Ing. Ondřej Šrámek, Ph.D.
Head of the task group Sustainable Materials of the Czech Green Building Council