What is an lca?
LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment and is used to evaluate the effects of a product on the environment over its lifespan. It is an internationally recognised, standardised method for analysing the potential environmental impact of products, processes and buildings over their whole life cycle – from extraction to dismantling and disposal or recycling.
It is the most advanced tool for the evaluation of the potential impacts of products, materials or buildings on the environment. It allows you to precisely identify the impacts of a product with a multi-criteria approach over its entire life cycle so that you can make more informed choices about the materials and processes you use.
For example, the LCA for our products assesses the water, energy, transport, disposal and recycling impact of our recycled aggregates.
What are the phases of an lca?
- Definition of goal and scope
- Inventory analysis
- Impact assessment
what conclusions can you draw from an lca assessment?
- How high the emissions of the product or service are.
- How it compares to other products in your portfolio.
- What the key areas are to reduce the impact of your product.
- Identify whether there are more efficient ways to manufacture your product.
What is an EPD?
EPD stands for Environmental Product Declaration. It is a third party verified Type III Environmental label that acts as an environmental impact assessment for a product and is based on international standards. The EPD presents the results of the lifecycle assessment (LCA) and presents the results from the assessment in seperate environmental impact categories, summarising the results.
Even if you do not own the product, it is still a product that is involved in your supply chain, and therefore the information from the EPD will be relevant to any sustainability reporting you be required to do by law, for Net Zero targets or as a requirement from others in the supply chain.
In our case, we have achieved an EPD for our recycled products. Brewster Brothers are the first recycled aggregates producer in the UK to achieve an Environmental Product Declaration for recycled aggregates.
What is the difference between an EPD and an LCA?
An LCA is a comprehensive report that analyses the impact of a product, material, process or building. An EPD is a standard format for presenting the results of the LCA and provides an easy-to-use summary of the environmental impacts for each environmental category for a given product or group of products. Construction product EPDs are governed by the B.S EN 15804+A2 standard.
Both an LCA and an EPD are carried out by the producer of the product. However, an EPD can then be used throughout the supply chain for sustainability reporting, aid with sustainability accreditation and support decision making.
why should a manufacturer acquire an Epd?
It also permits designers and buyers, through accurate data, to compare and choose the most sustainable product for their project. An EPD can also be integrated into a sustainability assessment for a building.
What does an EPD mean for me, the customer?
The easy-to-use summary table allows you to choose the lowest impact products for your construction projects. EPDs also simplify your carbon reporting, no more guesstimates and data hunting.
The impact of our EPD on our customers and the main contractors in their supply chain is that you now have access to accurate and transparent data for your sustainability reporting. If you’re a main contractor, this highlights a way to ensure your supply chain is choosing the most sustainable products and a way for your sub-contractors to verify that to you.
Choosing Brewster Brothers as your supplier or making it a requirement for your supply chain, shows your commitment to sustainability, helping you win more work and fuel the transition to a circular economy.
What standards are EPDs governed by?
They are governed by three standards:
- ISO 14040 – describes the principles and framework for life cycle assessment.
- ISO 14025 – establishes the principles and specifies the procedures for developing a Type III environmental declaration.
- EN 15804 – provides specific guidelines for the development of EPDs for construction and building products.
Why is third-party verification important?
It is a key factor in why EPDs are valued for their impartial, standardized, and comparable information. It is a core element of the international standard which defines EPDs, ISO 14025.
Without third party verification, your environmental impact assessment will not be recognised by many certification schemes, regulations and procurement requirements.
Does an EPD mean a product is sustainable?
No, an EPD doesn’t certify that a product, material or process is sustainable. Instead, it provides transparent, quantifiable evidence to use as a benchmark for yourself or an auditor who can determine whether the product is sustainable.
What information is included in an EPD?
- General information – expiry date of the EPD, the verification information.
- Product information – summary of the characteristics and performance of the product.
- Information about the methodology used for the life cycle assessment (LCA) – the functional unit, the stages of the lifecycle that are covered (e.g cradle to gate), as well as more detailed info on the manufacturing stage.
- LCA results – looks at the product stage, construction process stage, use stage, end-of-life stage (environmental impact of each).
- Analysis of the LCA results – there is a summary of major impacts, the energy consumed and any other impacts associated with production of the product.
What is the validity of an EPD?
An EPD is valid from completion of the last step of the process (registration & publication), until a final validity date, which is declared in the EPD. Validity is normally five years.
An expired EPD can still be published to give environmental information for products still in use but may not be used in marketing.
A published EPD shall be updated if one of the environmental indicators has worsened by more than 10% compared with the data currently published.
How can I use an EPD in my construction project?
You can use an EPD in the design and procurement phases. To interpret an EPD you need to look at the environmental impact categories listed in the summary table and their corresponding results.
You could also use a comparison tool like the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3). From here you can use this data to inform your sustainability reporting or, you can use these results to compare other products with EPDs to identify the most sustainable choice for your project
How can EPDs be used in public procurement?
- To obtain environmental information on the product.
- As verification on environmental requirements in the tendering documents.
- To reward the ‘environmentally best’ product.
Can several similar products be included in the same EPD?
Several sets of results are not allowed to be declared in the same EPD.
However, similar products from a single or several manufacturing sites covered by the same Product Category Rules, and manufactured by the same company with the same major steps in core processes may be grouped and included in the same EPD.
EPDs can be used alone or in conjunction with each other to help you achieve sustainable accreditation for your project or even a specific building.
Are EPDs used in the UK?
The awareness of the value of EPDs is rapidly increasing, both commercially and institutionally. The Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM are based on a particular version of an EPD known as Environmental Profiling.
How are GHG Emissions Categorised?
GHG Emissions can be categorised in three different scopes depending on their impact to your business.
What does Scope 1 mean?
Direct emissions associated with anything that the organisation owns or directly controls.
For example: The fuel emissions created by the fuel you use when you run your trucks or other machinery.
What does Scope 2 mean?
Indirect emissions linked to where the energy an organisation purchases and uses is produced.
For example: the emissions associated with the production of the gas and electricity used to power the office you work in, where the emissions are not under the direct control of the organisation.
What does Scope 3 mean?
All other indirect emissions created by the organisations value chain not covered in scopes 1 and 2.
For example: the emissions associated with the products you buy to carry out your work, like recycled aggregates for subbase under roads, and wastes arising from a production process.
What is Carbon Insetting?
Carbon insetting is when businesses invest in carbon reduction initiatives within their own products, processes or supply chain to reduce indirect emissions (Scope 3). This can encourage the reduction of indirect emissions throughout the supply chain rather than relying on ‘carbon offsetting’.
With Scope 3 emissions accounting for around 70% of all emissions, this is an incredibly valuable tool in the race to Net Zero and can bring supply chains closer together as participants work towards their sustainability goals.