The construction industry is currently experiencing a major shift. With growing demand for sustainability and carbon neutrality from governments, clients and a concerned public, building materials are under increasing scrutiny for both new construction and the retrofitting of existing structures.
Why? Materials matter. They alone can account for up to 45% of a project’s total costs and more than 50% of the carbon emissions in a structure’s lifecycle. That’s why rating systems like LEED V4 are continuing to intensify their criteria, which help projects prioritize materials with transparent information about their traceability, environmental impact, and chemical composition.
Architects, engineers and designers, as well as material manufacturers have come to rely on new sustainability standards for documenting materials like the Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), making them integral to initiatives and roadmaps like Lemay’s Net Positive™ that are devoted to a more sustainable future.
What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?
At its core, an EPD is a standardized, third-party verified document that details the environmental impact of a product. That makes EPDs an effective tool for disclosing a product’s sustainable qualities and environmental repercussions, from global warming potential and smog creation to ozone depletion and water pollution capabilities. This allows the professionals who specify them to make informed selections and choose the most sustainable option.
As a high-quality, objective and comparable form of data based on international standards, EPDs help lend credibility to projects and avoid any misleading greenwashing. Considering how they define a product’s carbon footprint and its origin, the energy required to make and dispose of them and the waste they produce, they provide valuable information to better inform the decision-making process.
A formula for sustainability, a recipe for success
An accomplished sustainable project is the sum of its parts. That’s why the quality of materials and their performance over time can make a huge difference.
Today, we can hardly imagine buying processed foods without a nutrition label that allows us to check if the ingredients are healthy enough to our taste. Similarly, EPDs can be thought of as the nutritional fact labels for buildings: The wood and steel their walls are built with, the carpeting that lines their halls and common areas, and even the paint used throughout —these are all ingredients that contribute or take away from the long-term health of buildings, and the planet’s.
The use of Environmental Product Declarations is only one of the many ways sustainability can be approached—learn more how our Net Positive™ approach can generate concrete and tangible benefits here.