The European Construction Products Regulation, which came into force in February 2011, and the Guideline for Sustainable Building issued by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs will lead to an increasing demand for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings with appropriate certification. However, as yet few people are familiar with the complex requirements and time-consuming verification process. For this reason, the ift Rosenheim has published Technical Information NA-02engl/1, which contains important background and contextual information and explains what manufacturers, assemblers and designers/engineers have to do.
The construction and property industry have a large impact on the conservation of energy and resources and hence the general environment as they account for large quantities of energy and raw materials used in construction and during the service life of buildings. In order to come closer to the objective of a sustainable construction industry, a number of different assessment systems for sustainable construction have been developed. The most important assessment systems are LEED and BREEAM, which are internationally recognised, and the BNB and DGNB system in Germany.
Determining the environmental impact as part of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) plays an important part in the overall assessment process of sustainable construction. Each EPD is based on the assessment of the respective life cycle (LCA), which provides an impartial evaluation of the impact of a construction product on the environment.
EPDs can simply be produced using an existing average EPD which is based on average characteristics representing a typical cross section of the industry. Another, more involved method is to produce a product- or company-specific EPD from scratch for which all data are individually collected and evaluated for the respective product or company.
When producing EPDs it is necessary to have a Product Category Rule (PCR) which defines the relevant conditions and procedures for the product groups in question. There are a number of different existing PCRs that can be used.
When producing an Environmental Product Declaration in accordance with EN 15804, the only mandatory information to be supplied is on the product stage. It is not mandatory to provide documentation on the other stages ndash; the use stage, de-construction and end-of-life/recycling. However, the environmental impacts of the building envelope are much more significant during the use stage; e.g. when considering maintenance intervals and service life. For this reason, in the EPDs produced by the ift, it is possible to provide voluntary technical information about the other life cycle stages in addition to the mandatory data. It is advisable to use this option since most certification systems specify additional evidence and characteristic values, information which is very important for architects, designers, engineers and building certification specialists.