Environmental product declarations give manufacturers an edge
—Sponsored article by CSA Group
Recently, CSA Group announced the first product registered to its environmental product declaration (EPD) program. The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) successfully met the requirements for two of its cement products.
As consumers become more aware of the life cycle approach to products, the ability for manufacturers to show sustainability throughout the life of their products will be increasingly important. EPDs provide a standard way to communicate the environmental impact of a product and are becoming a more important part of the life cycle assessment of a building. EPDs take into account overall energy use and efficiency, the materials that were used to make the product, chemical substances, emissions and waste generation.
The Cement Association’s industry-average EPD is for its members’ general-use and portland-limestone cements. To achieve the registration, the cements’ environmental impacts were measured—from raw material extraction to the end product.
“Environmental product declarations are a simple, easily understood way for contractors and architects—and the general public, to understand and evaluate the environmental impact of the products they choose,” said Magali Depras, president of standards at CSA Group.
Making noticeable improvements in the homes and offices occupied everyday could have a dramatic impact on greenhouse gas emissions. It’s estimated that these buildings are one of the biggest contributors in North America.
“Cement is used virtually exclusively to make concrete, a material that is literally the foundation of modern society and that will play a key role in the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient future,” said Michael McSweeney, president and CEO of the Cement Association of Canada.
EPDs don’t just apply to cement, but many products across categories. Manufacturers looking to gain a competitive edge in environmentally-aware industries might consider EPDs as a product differentiator.
Roadmap to EPD registration
To achieve EPD registration on manufactured products, applicants usually follow a set order of steps, assisted by the CSA Group:
1) Select the right PCR (Product category rule). Before an EPD can be registered, the product must be identified with a PCR. CSA can identify or modify a category or help develop a new one.
2). Conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA). Based on the PCR requirements, an LCA consultant evaluates the environmental impact of the product or service from raw material acquisition through production, use and end-of-life.
3). Develop the EPD. PCR requirements are combined with LCA results to create an EPD that clearly communicates your products’ environmental performance. CSA provides templates to format your EPD for publication and listing on CSA Group’s
4). Verify the LCA and EPD. Your LCA and EPD must be verified by an independent third-party. CSA can provide a list of approved verifiers.
5). Register and publish the EPD with a program operator. Submit your EPD and CSA will verify it meets ISO 14025 and CSA Group program requirements and will publish the EPD on our registry.
Manufacturers that provide transparency around the environmental impact of their products and services can be seen as sustainability leaders in the marketplace. Buyers all along the supply chain are increasingly looking for clarity in the environmental impact of the products they purchase or specify. As a result, manufacturers across many industries are beginning to realize that sustainability is not just good for the environment… it’s good for business.
Hilary Davies is project manager, Environment & Climate Change, CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent organization dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. CSA certification marks appear on billions of qualified products worldwide. For more information about CSA Group visit www.csagroup.org.
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