Across the globe, sustainability continues its growth in response to climate change, resource shortages and economic efficiency. To better understand how material selection and building operations influence these and other environmental factors, green building design professionals are turning to life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify environmental impacts during each phase of a building’s life cycle including: materials acquisition, manufacturing, transportation, use and final disposal. Manufacturers are supporting this through the development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) which are “report cards” on the impacts generated from the acquisition and manufacturing stages of a product or assembly.

About EPDs and PCRs

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is comprehensive summary report of environmental impacts of a material’s production based on life cycle assessment (LCA) and verified by a third party. It provides a clear, consistent, and transparent basis for reporting broad environmental performance for similar types of materials or products and is often compared to the nutritional label found on food products.  It is essential to note that within an EPD there is no evaluation of the environmental information, since no predetermined environmental performance levels are set.

EPDs are based on Product Category Rules (PCRs) which are established to ensure that EPDs within a similar product type are constructed from comparable data and analysis methods. A product category is a group of products that can fulfill equivalent functions. Once the key attributes of a product’s manufacturing impacts are identified by the PCR, data collection and assessment through the life cycle assessment process becomes more efficient, consistent and cost effective. To ensure credibility, the rules are prepared with input from a wide range of stakeholders to achieve consensus. A panel of independent experts reviews and verifies the draft PCR complies with ISO 14044 and offers a substantive characterization of the environmental impacts for the product. 

PCA Portland Cement EPD

PCA Masonry Cement EPD

PCA Blended Cement EPD

PCA Introduces New EPD Tool

A new tool enabling individual cement manufacturers and concrete producers to generate an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is available through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Cement Sustainability Initiative (WBCSD CSI). A webinar describing the process may be viewed at PCA and WBCSD CSI members, along with their subsidiaries, have free access to the tool. For more information, please contact PCA Director, Sustainable Development David Shepherd.

2014 Product Category Rules on Concrete Sustainability

PCA and its members were among contributors to 2014 Product Category Rules on concrete sustainability, published by ASTM, Product Category Rules For Preparing an Environmental Product Declaration for Portland, Blended Hydraulic, Masonry, Mortar, and Plastic (Stucco) Cements Category.