Delving Deeper into Sustainable Design

With the LEED v4 roll out, the term “EPD” is popping up everywhere. Here’s what you need to know about what those three letters may mean for you.

12/01/2016 By Kadie Yale

Even for the most sustainably aware designers, keeping track of all of the rules and regulations can be confusing. And if you’re new to Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), they can be nearly impossible to navigate. Luckily, there are experts for that. i+s sat down with two third-party certifiers, Jenny Oorbeck, general manager, Sustainability, NSF International; and Anna Lasso, product manager, Environmental Product Declarations, UL Environment LLC, to discuss the ins and outs of how EPDs will continue their influence on the design industry.

From the Experts...

EPDs benefit us as well as our customers. The rigor of completing an EPD helps us pinpoint where our materials and processes have the most environmental impact, allowing us to continue to move toward solutions with a lower footprint. Externally, these allow our customers to compare transparent environmental data regarding the products they buy in order to make more informed environmental
product-specification decisions.

—Russ Delozier, Director of Sustainability, J+J Flooring Group

Because EPDs are third-party certified through a series of product category rules, Universal Fibers views them as a simplified external reporting tool for our customers and the marketplace to communicate a product’s sustainability attributes. For internal decision-making [product development choices, ISO 14001 improvement initiatives, etc.], LCAs provide a greater level of technical detail.

—Brendan McSheehy, Vice President of Innovation, Sustainability, IP, Universal Fibers

At Mohawk Group, we believe that product transparency is essential for healthy, productive workplaces. That’s why we’re seeking greater product transparency by supporting and utilizing third-party platforms, such as EPDs, that provide all of us with a common language and measurement about life-cycle environmental impact of products. Not only are EPDs essential for helping architects, designers, and end users make the right choice during the specification process, EPDs also bring peace of mind to the occupants of these buildings because they know they’re surrounded by products that contribute to healthy spaces.

—George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability, Mohawk Group

EPDs are not meant to be business-to-consumer communication. They’re not prohibited, but it’s mainly business-to-business communication. They seem to be easy to understand, but there are many different aspects. The intention is to be comparable, but we’re not there yet. There
is progress toward mutual recognitions, but mutual recognition is only possible when you have the same rules. So the way in which we use EPDs at Aquafil is to compare our own products. We are always looking at the benefits between our products.

—Lucjia Aleksic, Sustainability Compliance Manager, Aquafil

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