Environmental Product Declarations: What? Why? How?

Lead Author: Wayne Trusty

Publish date: 10.30.2012

 

A couple of decades ago a business management book entitled Strategy of the Dolphin encouraged the reader to “catch the wave”, meaning the next critical wave of change in any sector or industry. Today, a mounting wave in areas such as product development and building design is the application of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which focuses on a range of quantifiable environmental impacts that can be taken into account along with more traditional cost, functionality and aesthetic criteria. In the absence of LCA, the approximately 495 ‘green’ product labels in Asia, North America and Europe tend to do more to confuse than clarify, underscoring the ‘greenwashing’ metaphor. By focusing on a range of environmental performance measures such as fossil fuel depletion, global warming potential and ozone depletion potential, LCA provides a more holistic view of flows from and to nature and the resulting environmental effects. This is where the LCA-based Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) comes in, and organizations have to catch the wave or suffer the consequences.