EPD Seal (Environmental Product Declaration): what is its importance?

Sustainability is an essential part of a project. Thus, the EPD seal stands out. Here, understand what it is and how it is used!

Issues related to environmental protection mobilize our society and the leaders of countries in the search for solutions that enable a more sustainable economy, less aggressive to the environment and to life - be it represented by humanity, flora or fauna.

In real estate, the situation is the same. Civil construction has always been criticized for causing impacts to the environment during a construction or residential renovation. One of the main problems pointed out is the generation of waste, which comes, in large part, from waste.

To reduce environmental impacts and ensure the effectiveness of sustainable works, some guidelines and seals were created. In this way, companies involved in real estate projects can qualify and confirm that they are practicing sustainability in your work. One of these seals it's the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration). 

Let's find out more about this label? Read on!

What is EPD?

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) is an acronym that, in Portuguese, means Environmental Product Declaration (DAP). Its about a label that determines the environmental profile of the product. To define this profile, an analysis based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is performed.

It is noteworthy that this seal is a type III label and follows the parameters of the standards NBR ISO No. 14020/2002 and ISO No. 14025/2015. About the life cycle, it follows the rules NBR ISO No. 14040/2014 and ISO No. 14044/2014 (corrected versions of previous versions from 2009).

In addition, for civil construction, there is another standard to consider: ISO No. 21930/2017, which ensures sustainability in buildings and engineering works.

Generally speaking, the EPD defines criteria such as:

  • each product category;
  • national and international studies;
  • laws of Brazil and other countries;
  • Brazilian standards, such as the NBR ISO nº 14024/2004, and international;
  • consultation with experts;
  • simulations.

That way, if there are enough environmental claims in the category of a given product, they will apply.

How does Type III labeling work?

In Brazil, there are two type III labeling systems. O RGMat is an exclusive type of the construction industry, being conferred only by Vanzolini Foundation. The other is the DAP Labeling Program of the Inmetro. See examples of EPDs that Fundação Vanzolini offers: 

  • rodapé of recycled polystyrene;
  • recycled glass inserts.

Internationally, the The International EPD System is the most famous program. He recently published three DAPs related to the cement industry: 

  • cement;
  • mortar;
  • concrete.

What information must be included in the EPD?

To make it easier to understand, we can compare the information recorded in the EPD with the information inscribed in nutritional tables on food packaging. The declaration classifies the product, in an environmental way, analyzing different indicators, such as climate change.

The purpose of a DAP is to provide environmentally important information that has been confirmed. She must offer a consistent foundation to compare, in a fair and balanced way, the environmental performance of many products.

The Environmental Product Declaration reflects the constant improvement of products over time — it is possible to add information from different DAPs about the same product.

What is the most important EPD in the country?

The RGMat is one of the most respected certifications when it comes to material for sustainable works. It is a green seal that offers valuable, verified and comparable information regarding environmental characteristics, involving comfort and health.

It is a relevant certificate, not only for those who manufacture the product, but also for store owners can identify the most sustainable items and managers decide for the most environmentally correct purchases.

The legal basis used for granting the EPD seal by the Vanzolini Foundation is the triad: 

  • technical compliance;
  • environmental performance; 
  • comfort and health.

The main features of this seal are:

Practicality

The RGMat is based on the use of relevant methods and it is accepted, worldwide, for life cycle assessment (LCA). This requirement allows us to identify and pay attention to the most valuable characteristics in the environment which, with a holistic view, promotes constant product improvement.

Comparability

This system also makes it possible to compare products based on product category rules (PCR). these rules determine specific rules for each type of merchandise, which harmonizes life cycle assessment, data collection, methodology, calculations and results display.

Credibility

There is also the requirement regarding critical review, approval and follow-up by an independent verifier. 

What are PCRs?

PCR is the acronym for Product Category Rules, or Product Category Rules. IT'S a very important concept for the Environmental Product Declaration.

As we have already seen, DAP must, necessarily, comply with strict, well-defined and methodological prerequisites. Product category rules are considered to be complementary to the conditions generally required by DAP programs.

As product groups differ in inherent environmental performance, certain standards are required for them, for each has its own peculiarities. The set of these rules is represented by the ISO 21930 and ISO 14025.

How to get the declaration in Brazil?

To receive the Environmental Product Declaration, companies must follow a few steps, namely: 

  • evaluation of documents;
  • auditing;
  • final analysis performed by a technical reviewer such as the company RINA Brazil;
  • issue of the DPA valid for three years.

RINA Brazil is a company that can validate the statement and its function is to act as an independent verifier.

We can quote, of the products that are eligible to receive the seal: concrete, bricks, hardware and even certain types of finishes.

What are the advantages of getting a DPA?

The Environmental Product Declaration requires a Life Cycle Assessment, a document that provides details on the processes that make up the supply chain and value. ACV's detail allows the company to have access to relevant information about the stages in which raw material waste and energy inefficiency can happen.

This analysis can offer alternatives to reduce operating expenses, resulting in more advantageous market prices. Obtaining an environmental seal is already a relevant factor that, in itself, contributes to improving the level of competitiveness, as proves that the company is concerned with externalizing its environmental responsibility.

The certification enables the organization to enter new markets, compete in sustainable public procurement notices and encourage consumers to select products that cause less impact, inducing the constant optimization of processes.

Also, the use of materials with their own DPAs allows construction companies to earn additional scores in the industry certification system. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), taking into account the category “Materials and Resources”.

Summarizing the advantages of getting a seal like this, we have: 

  • comparisons within the same pattern;
  • easy access to verified information;
  • international standardization, which confirms that the information provided is in compliance with requirements that have been agreed between different countries — NBR ISO 14024, ISO 14025 and ISO 21930, for example;
  • more security for purchases;
  • greater confidence in making fact-based decisions when comparing the environmental performance of services and products;
  • demonstration of transparency and respect for consumers;
  • greater facility to guide customers.

How EPD helps to prevent the greenwashing?

Hands fitting two pieces of a puzzle that represents sustainability and the EPD seal.

Greenwashing is an English term that, in Portuguese, can be translated as “lavagem verde” or “painting green”. Its about a non-recommended strategy for companies that want to effectively embrace sustainability.

When adopted, companies make speeches, actions, advertisements, documentation and advertising campaigns about how to act in an ecologically correct manner. In this way, they are able to associate their image with sustainable practices, environmental protection and concepts such as eco-friendly (environmentally friendly) and green (green).

But in fact, they do not apply effective measures to solve environmental problems. On the contrary, many of its actions result in negative impacts on the environment. Thus, the greenwashing is a kind of false advertising, as the company conveys a different image of what it really is and does.

EPD certification is not provided to these companies. As we said, to receive the seal, the organization must go through some steps, including technical evaluation by an independent verifier.

In order not to be fooled by this strategy, customers can check the seals and certifications granted to the company. In addition, you should consult the certifying organization's website and confirm that that company actually holds the certificate. That's because there are brands that use the seals illegally.

In general, the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) is an important document that certifies the company environmentally before the market, confirming that she uses sustainable materials. At the relationship with suppliers and customers, it is important to give preference to brands that carry this seal, demonstrating the reliability of the materials. 

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