Environmental Product Declarations And Product Category Rules
The need to standardize the life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to ensure consistency in the process has led to the development of the LCA standards in the International Standards Organization (ISO) 14000 series. Publication of the initial ISO standards in 1997 resulted in a commonly accepted standard method for LCA (delineated by ISO 14040 [ISO 2006a] and 14044 [ISO 2006b]) and for "ecolabels" which are referred to as environmental product declarations (EPD) (ISO 2006c); however, specifics on how to interpret and apply the general rules have proven to be varying from one application to another. Therefore, agreeing on the interpretation that is relevant to different industries is necessary. The LCA approach developed and used by an industry to produce EPDs is called a Product Category Rule (PCR). A commonly cited set of LCA standards specific to EPDs for building materials are those published by the European Committee for Standardization under the Technical Committee 350 "sustainability of construction works", and which include a standard for EPDs published as EN15804 (CEN 2012). These and other standards and guidelines for LCA are referred to throughout these guidelines for pavement LCA.
If all products had an EPD, a pavement LCA using those products would benefit in terms of easy access to high quality data and as a result lower cost due to efficiency gains during the inventory phase. EPDs can be issued on a specific product from a specific producer, but may also be issued for a generic product from a group of manufacturers (such as an association). Figure 1 shows a sample EPD for a concrete mix design.
Figure 1. Sample EPD for a concrete mix design (courtesy of Central Concrete Supply Company).
The basis for an EPD is a Product Category Rule (PCR) document generated through a stakeholder procedure and including rules for specific product categories. Recent examples of industry involvement in this area are: 1) the Product Category Rules Task Group produced a draft PCR for portland and blended cements in 2012 and is close to releasing a publication, and, 2) the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) is certifying EPDs for cement (Carbon Leadership Forum 2010) and concrete (Carbon Leadership Forum 2013) as a program operator, and, 3) the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) has formed a task group to develop PCRs and EPDs for the asphalt pavement industry.
It is important that these PCR documents are aligned for the following reasons:
- They apply to LCA in general and are accepted world-wide by industries producing materials and products.
- They promote completeness and transparency of LCA studies based on world-wide consensus for best practice.
- They lead to consistency and compatibility of practice across industries, which results in information that is easier for consumers of LCA studies to use effectively and efficiently.
Carbon Leadership Forum. 2010. Product Category Rules, CPC Class 3744, Cement (.pdf). PCR 2010-09, Version 1.0. Carbon Leadership Forum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Carbon Leadership Forum. 2013. Product Category Rules (PCR) for ISO 14025 Type III Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) of Concrete (.pdf). Revised Version 1.1. Carbon Leadership Forum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
CEN. 2012. Sustainability of Construction Works - Environmental Product Declarations - Core Rules for the Product Category of Construction Products. EN 15804:2012. British Standards Institution, UK.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 2006a. Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Principles and Framework. ISO Standard 14040. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 2006b. Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Requirements and Guidelines. ISO Standard 14044. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 2006c. Environmental Labels and Declarations -- Type III Environmental Declarations -- Principles and Procedures. ISO Standard 14025. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland.