EPDs: What’s the Business Value?

If you have been in an industry meeting in the past few years, chances are you are at least aware of acronyms like EPD, LCA and PCR. Still, the industry is trying to figure out how this all fits into their business.

ViK Ahuja of Life Cycle Assessment Consulting addresses the AAMA conference in Phoenix.

Vik Ahuja of thinkstep aimed to answer some of those questions in his presentation, Business Value of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), during this week’s American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) national conference in Phoenix.

First, Ahuja gave an overview of where the industry is now.

“The Product Category Rule (PCR) for windows is done for the business-to-business side,” he said. “This is what we call cradle-to-gate. What’s not done is the business-to-consumer PCR.”

He then reiterated that Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) starts from raw material extraction through the use stage to end of life.

“The LCA is absolutely the hardest part of this business,” he said. “The PCR is the linchpin.

“First, you need to figure out whose PCR you are going to use,” Ahuja added. “Then you have to have someone to do the LCA. It’s a collection of inputs and outputs. Then we develop an LCA model, and the summary of that is the EPD. That needs to get verified independently by organizations, for example, UL. If they verify it, they would publish it.”

He also had important advice for companies that want to compare EPDs against one another.

“What I tell anyone willing to listen is that you have to know those questions to ask,” he said. “A lot of questions need to be answered before you start comparing EPDs against each other.”

So what’s the business value of EPDs? Ahuja said companies can use it to develop a corporate sustainability report, to be more operationally efficient, or perhaps use it for a marketing initiative.

“Before you start down this road you really need to ask: ‘What are we going to use this for?’ Know where you want to be at the end. If you are doing it for LEED credit then it has to be ISO compliant,” he said.

If you’re still hesitant, Ahuja pointed out that “they are asking for this stuff in bid documents.”

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