NRMCA set to verify Environmental Product Declarations per new LEED, IgCC versions

Source: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.

NRMCA has become an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Program Operator, a designation enabling it to help members meet new requirements in LEED v4, International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products. EPDs are third-party verified reports published by product manufacturers that provide quality assured and comparable information regarding the environmental performance of their product.

EPDs are intended to assist specifiers, purchasers and building users in product comparisons, but do not represent environmental claims regarding the superiority or equivalence of one product versus another of the same function. EPDs are developed in accordance with strict international standards that include a transparent verification process for adopting Product Category Rules (PCR) by which EPDs are developed and verified. To produce an EPD, a company must perform a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on a product and report the results in the EPD. The PCR defines the functional unit (product to be analyzed), scope and boundaries of the LCA and the environmental impacts to be reported in the EPD. Before the EPD can be published, it must be third-party reviewed and verified.

“Think of an EPD as a nutrition label for a product; but instead of providing information such as calories, fat content and carbohydrates, an EPD provides information about environmental impacts such as global warming potential, smog formation and water use,” says Lionel Lemay, senior vice president, sustainable development with NRMCA.

The objective of the NRMCA EPD Program is to help develop, verify and publish EPDs for ready mixed concrete products. To maintain third-party objectivity, NRMCA will ensure that an independent verifier reviews and verifies each EPD developed under the NRMCA EPD Program before certifying the EPD. Independent verifiers may be an individual or verification body with knowledge of the concrete products industry and related environmental aspects, with process and product knowledge of the product category, and have expertise in LCA methodology.

Researchers from the University of Washington’s College of Built Environment’s Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) have worked with a diverse group of stakeholders, including architects, engineers, academic researchers, concrete producers and LCA professionals to develop a PCR for Concrete. The PCR for Concrete will be reviewed, verified and registered with CLF over the coming months and NRMCA is expected to adopt the PCR for its EPD Program.

“NRMCA will strive to keep up to date on the general rules of other related EPD Programs and PCR development. The goal is to make EPDs verified by NRMCA as consistent as possible with those in other EPD Programs in order to support the use of that information in LEED v4, IgCC and Architecture 2030 and other green building programs,” adds Lemay.