David Marcus

USGBC and UL Environment are soliciting stakeholder feedback on two EPD documents until Nov. 18.

The world of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) can be challenging (and full of new acronyms), especially for the design community who may only see the end result of a frequently time-intensive and sometimes cost-intensive EPD creation process on the part of manufacturers or trade associations. 

For designers, these declarations can be a critical tool in making better decisions about the environmental impacts of buildings, navigating the data and methodology and generally interpreting the results. However, they can also be confusing and inconsistent. Additionally, the temptation by designers to compare EPDs outside of a whole building life cycle assessment context can lead to incorrect conclusions and should be avoided.

In November 2013, USGBC® and UL Environment announced a partnership to increase the availability and functionality of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for the architecture and design community and to address the known issues with EPD consistency, reporting and comparability. 

Over the past three years, a group of experts, the Technical Advisory Panel, along with UL Environment and USGBC staff, have developed guidance for creating Product Category Rules (PCR) that address industry-wide EPD creation to enable a pathway to comparative benchmarking against company-specific EPDs.

Additional guidance is also provided for companies wishing to benchmark internally against their own EPD. The guidance comprises two documents and layers additional benchmarking requirements over the limited language in international standards EN 15804 and ISO 21930. The Part A Enhancement (intended to be used in conjunction with ULE’s Part A: Calculation Rules for the Life Cycle Assessment and Requirements on the Project Report) addresses the reporting and modification of existing PCRs and seeks to better align EPDs with USGBC’s market transformation goals. The second (Part B Guidance) addresses the creation of new or expired PCRs.

As the next step in the process, USGBC and UL Environment are soliciting stakeholder feedback on both documents from Oct. 3–Nov. 18, 2016. 

The LEED v4 EPD credit has two options. The first option rewards companies that disclose life cycle impacts of their products through environmental product declaration, and the second rewards manufacturers who can demonstrate improvement in those impacts relative either to themselves or industry benchmarks. EPDs conforming to this guidance can contribute to both option 1 and option 2 (optimization) of the LEED v4 EPD credit. EPDs published under this guidance are intended to support increased supply chain transparency, provide a mechanism to document product optimization and be easily used by project teams designing, building and operating buildings.

This guidance was open for the first stakeholder feedback in 2014 and was piloted in 2015 by Interface and Owens Corning before reaching its current version.   

To get started, review the following documents and the complete the feedback form.

Also, join us on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 12 p.m. ET for a webinar to learn more.   

Register for the webinar


Technical Advisory Panel Members

  • Christoph Koffler, PhD—thinkstep
  • Kate Simonen, AIA, PE—University of Washington
  • Keith Lindemulder—Nucor Corporation
  • Lise Laurin—EarthShift Global
  • Tom Gloria—Industrial Ecology Consultants
  • Jack Geibig—Ecoform
  • Eva Schmincke—Thinkstep
  • David Green—BASF
  • Paul Firth—UL Environment
  • Anna Nicholson—UL Environment