Sustainable Buildings: To Better Understand Transparent Declarations

Posted by Jean-François Côté on Oct 18, 2017 2:02:07 PM

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The main purpose of transparent declarations is to facilitate informed decision-making in sustainable construction. Based on the information disclosed by the manufacturer, contractors as well as specifiers can thus better direct their choices towards products that are less harmful to the environment and to people’s health. In North America, there are several types of declarations, such as EPDs and HPDs.               

What Is an EPD?

The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) provides information on the impact a product may have on various aspects relating to the environment.

 

What Is an HPD?

The Health Product Declaration (HPD) provides information on the impact a product may have on the health of individuals.

 

Clearly, transparent declarations can better guide the choices of professionals in the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings. There are also several benefits to specifying products that have been subject to a transparent declaration:

 

The Five Benefits of Transparent Declarations

 

1. Benefiting from products that have undergone a life cycle analysis (LCA)


A life cycle analysis (LCA) is the evaluation of a product and its related processes at all stages of its life cycle (see diagram below).

Its main purpose is to allow organizations to target actions more easily, in order to strategically reduce the negative impact on the environment or society at large.

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The LCA requires the manufacturer to follow a standardized and rigorous process. In order to guarantee the quality of the analysis carried out, the manufacturer must comply with the requirements of internationally recognized standards such as ISO 14 040.

From a more global perspective, the results of a product LCA greatly facilitate the LCA of the building as a whole. Since the information is more precise, the calculation is more accurate.

 

See our other article about the LEED v4 new requirements.

 

2. Benefiting from information that has been validated by a third party 

Shared information must be validated by an independent third party. While the transparent declaration usually does not include details, the manufacturer must reveal their secrets to a third party so that the latter can attest to the validity of the declared information.

In conducting conformity assessment, the third party also has a mandate to ensure that the manufacturer complies with current regulatory requirements. Therefore, this additional transparency guarantee enhances the quality of the procedure.

 

3. Getting information to facilitate the application of social and environmental criteria 

With the available information, it becomes easier to compare and choose products beyond the price-quality ratio. An organization determined to achieve its goal of reducing its footprint could thus select products with a lower impact.

In the case of a zero-carbon or carbon-neutral project for example, compensatory measures will be less important when the time comes to take stock.

As for environmental criteria, it is not always easy to integrate the social aspect into choosing cleaner materials. It is more about making choices that will contribute to improving the quality of life of the site workers and occupants of the building once the project is completed.

 

4. Adopting responsible business practices in line with your commitments to corporate social responsibility (CSR)

The aim here is proving to the industry that you are taking responsibility in adopting good business practices. Manufacturers incorporating eco-design into their management practices will definitely seek to improve their environmental performance.

Choosing to partner with manufacturers that are aware of their impact, but also active in reducing it, is choosing to position yourself as an individual or a company that adopts more responsible purchasing practices.

 

  5. Benefiting from a product that contributes to obtaining LEED® credits

For industry professionals, it means meeting the requirements for sustainable buildings more easily. For example, installing products that have been subject to a transparent declaration can contribute to obtaining LEED® credits, which is an interesting added value to your project.

Topics: Sustainable Development