Built environment sustainability challenges such as climate change and circularity are increasingly driving the need for quantitative environmental information about construction products and solutions. Standardized, transparent, and reliable data about the potential environmental impacts and benefits of products supports the entire value chain in making informed decisions in support of global sustainability goals. Sika started publishing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in 2012, and the company’s extensive EPD portfolio covers all construction target markets – from roof to basement. Analyzing products and solutions from a life cycle perspective is an integral part of Sika’s sustainability assessment strategy. The results of sustainability assessments are often presented in publicly available EPDs.
What is an EPD?
EPDs are standardized instruments used to communicate the environmental performance of products. They are defined as Type III Environmental Declarations (ISO 14025) and registered within the framework of EPD Programs.
These frameworks provide transparent and comparable information about the environmental performance of products. All registered EPDs are made publicly available on individual program operator websites and may also be listed on the ECO Platform in Europe.
The results presented in EPDs are based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approaches and principles, and their scope can cover different life cycle stages of a product system. A cradle-to-gate EPD includes all steps of the production of a product, including raw material extraction, manufacturing, and packaging. Cradle-to-grave EPDs cover all life cycle stages – expanding from the product stage to include potential impacts and benefits associated with the operational use and final disposal of the product.
The EPD document transparently discloses which life cycle stages are included, and the results are always presented separately per construction module to provide full transparency over the life cycle. EPDs can be used for many different applications, including whole building life cycle assessment studies, green building programs such as LEED or BREEAM, and procurement, among others. By using EPDs, it is possible to evaluate the environmental performance of different materials, products, or solutions.
What does an EPD contain?
An EPD process results in two key deliverables.
The first key deliverable is the comprehensive LCA report – a confidential document providing all necessary details to support the verification process with the third-party verifier assigned by the program operator.
The second key deliverable is the standardized EPD document that is published by the program operator following verification and approval.
The EPD document contains information about the product and its potential environmental impacts and benefits as prescribed by the program operator based on specific Product Category Rules (PCRs).
Typical information presented in EPDs includes technical product data, a description of the product life cycle, information on the declared or functional unit, disclosure of the LCA approaches and principles applied in the assessment, specific calculation rules (e.g., cut-off rules, allocation approaches), comprehensive LCA results across 20+ environmental impact indicators, additional environmental information, and details about the third-party verification. Each EPD program operator has a standardized template, creating consistency across manufacturers and product groups.
Sika's approach to EPDs
Sika is continuously expanding its portfolio of EPDs for the construction market, utilizing both specific EPDs and generic EPDs from industry associations.
For specific EPDs, Sika’s in-house specialist team works with dedicated product sustainability software to build LCA models covering Sika’s main technologies and product groups. The requirements of international and European standards (ISO 14025, EN 15804+A2) are carefully applied to each assessment by qualified LCA practitioners, providing the basis for the LCA project report and the EPD. Inventories where Sika’s published EPDs can be found include the ECO Platform EPD Registry, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Greenbook Live, and the Institut Bauen und Umwelt (IBU) Published EPDs page.
In addition to specific EPDs, Sika is also an active member of industry associations and contributes to the development of model EPDs alongside other member companies. The creation of model EPDs allows member companies to leverage their know-how and collaborate to provide valid environmental information about products.
A model EPD is a generic EPD representing a given average product type that can be used by more than one company. Sika is a member of two associations that are active in the publication of model EPDs: the European Federation of Concrete Admixtures Associations (EFCA) and the European Adhesive and Sealant Industry (FEICA). The model EPDs covered by these associations include concrete admixtures and resin-, dispersion- and cementitious-based products. Like specific EPDs, model EPDs are third-party verified in conformity with EN 15804+A2 and ISO 14025 standards and are also published by program operators. The model EPDs can be claimed by member companies and their products if an assessment of the formulation has been completed in accordance with the IBU-approved guideline procedure for the relevant product category. This is another approach used by Sika to provide verified environmental information.