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How can Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) improve your workplace sustainability?

An introduction to EPDs - what they are, why they are important, and how they can positively influence the environmental impact of your workplace design project.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) offer a detailed analysis of the environmental impact of products. Independently verified, they are registered documents that communicate transparent information about the entire life-cycle impact of a particular product, from material extraction to production, transport, and finally end of life. Think of them as similar to the ingredient and nutritional information you may find on food products.

 

What does an EPD show?

The EPD documents the product’s environmental performance throughout its lifecycle from cradle to gate, by quantifying energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain.

 

Whilst a product that has an EPD isn’t inherently environmentally friendly, their standardised structure allows easy comparisons between products to assess a range of values.

 

These include (but are not limited to):

  • List of materials used – including weights & overall weight percentage
  • Recycled share of each material
  • Packaging content
  • Transportation from the factory – fuel consumption
  • Carbon emissions from raw material extraction, transport & manufacturing
  • End of life waste materials
  • The overall Carbon footprint of the product

 

EPDs that are verified by third parties are compliant with the ISO 14025 standard, as well as the EN 15804.

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Overview of the kind of statistics and information included in an EPD certificate. Featured: HÅG Capisco EPD

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EPD Data for the RH Logic chair, which contains 60% recycled materials, as well as 76% recycled packaging materials. Click here to view the whole document

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EPD Data for the RH Logic chair, with key statistics on energy consumption and carbon emissions during production. 

Using EPDs in workplace design

Because of this, EPDs can be taken into consideration when businesses and interior designers are selecting products and materials for a new development or refurbishment, when sustainability is a key issue for the client. EPDs can allow quotas on recycled content and overall carbon emissions to be easily met, as well as helping to reduce use in particular non environmentally friendly materials.

 

EPDs can also contribute to points and increase the BREEAM rating of a building certification scheme. They can assist in achieving additional green building certification such as LEED or WELL. This is because you can verify exactly the materials used in products helping to score various points within the certification schemes.

 

Whilst EPDs are important to understand the environmental impact of products they cannot be considered on their own when looking to create a sustainable working environment. Certification schemes such as GREENGUARD, Nordic Ecoswan and Cradle To Cradle certify a product has a significantly reduced impact on the environment. It is best to use EPDs as part of a holistic approach.

 

Read more - how to choose environmentally friendly furniture

 

How to find EPDs

EPDs are public documents and can be found in various EPD registers online. EPDs are not widespread in the furniture industry, but there are beginning to be recognised as an important tool for sustainable design. Flokk was the first company to apply for a furniture EPD, and has been renewing and adding new products to our EPD catalogue for many years. You can view all Flokk EPDs here.

 

You may also find product EPDs on a particular company’s product webpages, within the documentation and certificate download section.

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