Environmental product declarations entering the building sector : critical reflections based on 5 to 10 years experience in different European countries

Passer, Alexander (Institute of Technology and Testing of Building Materials, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria) ; Lasvaux, Sébastien (Environment and Life Cycle Engineering Division, University of Paris-East, Scientific and Technical Centre for Building (CSTB), Saint Martin d'Hères, France ; School of Management and Engineering Vaud, HES-SO // University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland) ; Allacker, Karen (European Commission Directorate General-Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy ; Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering Science, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium) ; De Lathauwer, Dieter (Product Policy and Chemical Substances, Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, Brussels, Belgium) ; Spirinckx, Carolin (VITO NV, Unit Smart Energy and Built Environment, Mol, Belgium) ; Wittstock, Bastian (Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, Stuttgart, Germany ; thinkstep AG (ehem. PE INTERNATIONAL AG), Echterdingen, Germany) ; Kellenberger, Daniel (Intep Integrale Plannung GmbH, Zürich, Switzerland) ; Gschösser, Florian (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria) ; Wall, Johannes (Institute of Technology and Testing of Building Materials, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria) ; Wallbaum, Holger (Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)

Growing awareness of the environmental performance of construction products and buildings brings about the need for a suitable method to assess their environmental performance. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has become a widely recognised and accepted method to assess the burdens and impacts throughout the life cycle. This LCA-based information may be in the form of environmental product declarations (EPD) or product environmental footprints (PEF), based on reliable and verifiable information. All of these use LCA to quantify and report several environmental impact categories and may also provide additional information. To better understand on the one hand existing EPD programmes (EN 15804) for each country and on the other the recent developments in terms of EU reference document (e.g. PEF), the authors decided to write this review paper based on the outcomes of the EPD workshop that was held prior to SB13 Graz conference. This paper presents the state of the art in LCA and an overview of the EPD programmes in five European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland) based on the workshop in the first part and a comprehensive description and comparison of the PEF method and EN 15804 in the second part. In the last part, a general conclusion will wrap up the findings and results will provide a further outlook on future activities. The high number of EPD programmes underlines the fact that there is obviously a demand for assessments of the environmental performance of construction materials. In the comparison between and experiences of the different countries, it can be seen that more similarities than differences exist. A comparison between PEF and EPD shows differences, e.g. LCIA impact categories and recycling methodology. Independent of raising awareness of the construction material environmental performance, the existence of so many environmental claims calls for clarification and harmonisation. Additionally, construction materials being assessed in the voluntary approaches have to follow the harmonised approach following the principles of the European Construction Products Regulation (regulated) not to foster barriers of trade. The authors therefore highly appreciate the most recent activities of the sustainability of construction works (CEN/TC 350 committee http://portailgroupe.afnor.fr/public_espacenormalisation/CENTC350/index.html) currently working on these issues at the EU level. Finally, the LCA community is further encouraged to increase the background life cycle inventory data and life cycle inventory modelling as well as the meaningfulness of certain environmental impact categories, such as toxicity, land use, biodiversity and resource usage.

Article Type:
Ingénierie et Architecture
IGT - Institut de Génie Thermique
14 p.
Published in:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Numeration (vol. no.):
2015, vol. 20, pp. 1199-1212
Appears in Collection:

 Record created 2020-09-08, last modified 2020-10-27

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