It’s All in the Details: Granular, Site-Specific EPDs are Essential to Reducing Embodied Carbon in the Built Environment

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) transparently communicate the environmental impact of any product or material over its lifetime. Like a food nutrition label, EPDs show the data on how a product’s raw material extraction, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life processes impact the environment and GHG emissions.

But not all EPDs are created equal. Many of today’s EPDs rely on industry averages or company product averages. These EPDs don’t provide the granular data critical to helping architects and designers make the lowest embodied carbon building material selections.

Kingspan’s site-specific EPDs provide the clear, granular data architects need to reduce embodied carbon in the built environment.

Types of EPDs explained

Three types of EPDs are used in the construction industry as tools for comparing the carbon intensity and environmental impact of functionally equivalent building products and materials. These EPDs include:

  • Industry-wide EPDs are generic declarations determined by an industry association. Theses EPDs declare the average environmental impacts of a representative sample of a specific product type. While these EPDs are considered useful as a benchmark, they don’t provide the most accurate accounting of embodied carbon.
  • Product-specific EPDs gather environmental impact data otherwise known as life cycle assessment (LCA) data on a specific manufacturer’s products. These can be representative of a product produced from a specific facility or averaged across multiple production facilities. These EPDs provide more granular information than industry-average EPDs but can also represent more general data sets if grouped by product collections across multiple manufacturing facilities.
  • Site-specific EPDs originate from LCAs that analyze a product from a specific facility. These EPDs provide more granular data about a specific manufacturing site, specific product attributes, and supplier-specific information associated with each site.
Kingspan’s industry-leading EPDs

Kingspan’s site-specific EPDs provide clear data that enables architects and designers to make informed decisions in selecting high performing, lower embodied carbon insulated metal panels.

These EPDs play a key part in delivering on our strong commitment for transparency and sustainability throughout the manufacturing process and across the supply chain.

Kingspan’s site-specific EPDs include detailed cradle-to-grave third-party certified information. That means the life cycle impacts of our insulated metal panels are evaluated from material extraction and manufacturing all the way through the end of the panel’s useful life. Granular data like this represents the actual CO2 impact of our panels, which enables architects to source the lowest embodied carbon options appropriate for their project and location.

Some of the lowest embodied carbon insulated metal panel options on the market today are a selection of our panels powered by our most thermally efficient QuadCore insulation core. According to our latest EPDs, Kingspan panels using QuadCore manufactured in our DeLand, Florida, or Caledon, Ontario, facilities have the lowest global warming potential (GWP) in North America, when compared with other insulated metal panel manufacturers. GWP is used as a measure of the embodied carbon of a product.

We expect to continue leading the market in lower embodied carbon building envelope solutions as we advance the goals of our 10-year Planet Passionate sustainability program. Planet Passionate initiatives and projects focused on lowering emissions associated with our manufacturing and supply chain are providing pathways for further reducing the GWP of our panels.

For example, the use of onsite solar PV renewable energy at our Modesto, California, and DeLand, Florida, plants is greatly reducing the amount of CO2 required to produce products at these facilities. Our supply chain goal of reducing the carbon intensity of key raw materials by 50% by 2030 will also have a significant impact on our EPDs. An example of how we are doing this is through procuring steel from mills using lower carbon production methods such as electric arc furnaces or onsite renewable energy.

Why granular EPDs matter

Embodied carbon from building materials and construction is unchangeable once a building is constructed. The locked-in nature of embodied carbon means that the only opportunity to minimize these harmful CO2 emissions is through material selections with lower GWP potential.

Site-specific EPDs matter because they help architects select high performing building materials with lower GWP potential. That will go a long way toward reducing the climate damaging embodied carbon in the built environment, which is responsible for 15% of global CO2 emissions annually.

When evaluating EPDs, it is important for stakeholders in the building sector to rely on site-specific EPDs instead of less accurate and less detailed industry and product EPDs. Site-specific EPDs provide the data architects need to make building material choices that have the most impact in reducing the harmful embodied carbon emissions in the built environment.

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Term of the Day

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) is a method to compare various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential. One metric ton of a greenhouse gas is converted to the equivalent number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential.

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