The acute housing shortage in many countries around the world underlines the pressing need to ramp up construction to meet market needs. However, the construction industry is one of the major contributors to climate change worldwide. With the rising focus on sustainability in the industry, environmental product declarations can play a significant role in mitigating the adverse effects.

A simple web search throws up staggering numbers regarding the negative impacts throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings, especially during the in-use phase. For example, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) has estimated that buildings account for 41 percent of the world’s energy use on average, 73 percent of the US electricity consumption, and 38 percent of all CO2 emissions.

The USGBC also estimates that the construction of buildings uses up 40 percent of the world’s raw materials. The UK Green Building Council has estimated that the construction sector accounts for almost 60 percent of the total waste generated in the UK.

Be part of the solution, not the problem

Many products and building materials have an adverse effect on the environment or on human/animal health at some stage during their lifecycles. Ranging from mild to irreversible, these negative impacts include climate change, ozone depletion, depletion of non-renewable resources, and harmful impact on nature and biodiversity as well as on general health and wellbeing.

Depletion of minerals and fossil fuels on land, phosphorous and nitrogen nutrient loading of water and rain, and smog and ozone layer depletion in the atmosphere are some of the consequences that we are experiencing today.

However, the good news is that sustainability is being prioritised in the construction and building sector, with stakeholders from architects and construction companies to building owners and tenants taking responsibility to be part of the solution, not the problem. There is also legislation to give the industry a push in the right direction.

Use EPDs to do fair product comparisons

To support sustainability throughout a building’s full lifecycle, it is vital to find a way to measure and verify the environmental impact of products and building materials used in its build – a tool that also makes it possible to do fair product comparisons.

Environmental product declarations (EPDs) go a long way towards fulfilling these objectives, and are increasingly used in the construction industry.

Based on ISO-certified life cycle assessments (LCAs), EPDs are third-party verified and provide information that gives a balanced overview of most important current environmental concerns; reflect relevant continuous product improvements; and can contribute to earning points in green building certification systems such as LEED and BREEAM.

EPDs contribute significantly to the sustainability of a building throughout its lifecycle by enabling transparent and fair product comparisons, helping the construction industry in its quest for more sustainable solutions.

Download our new white paper, which explains what EPDs are, how they are produced, and how you will benefit from using them.