An EPD: Offering sustainability information
EPDs are documents that provide information about a number of different environmental indicators relating to a product over its complete lifecycle: what its carbon footprint is; how much energy it uses; to what extent it contributes to air pollution; what in the way of resources are consumed during its production, transport, and use; and so on.
In addition, an EPD indicates what environmental impact a product will have once it reaches the end of its life, at which point it might be recycled, added to a landfill, or even reused. An EPD is essentially a verified version of what’s known as a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product—a document that analyzes the product’s lifetime environmental impacts.
What’s driving the EPD boom?
Recent years have seen a spike in the number of EPDs issued by companies. Indeed, the EPD has become an internationally accepted way of assessing and communicating environmental impact in B2B interactions.
Recent years have also seen attempts to standardize Life-Cycle Assessment Studies and EPDs. The goal here is both transparency and inter-applicability, making it possible to use EPDs in different industry sectors or countries and improving comparability, the ability to make apple-to-apple comparisons among products in the same category.
National and international associations and programs, like France’s EcoPassport system for related technologies like heating, electricity, and lighting, are also boosting awareness of EPDs. In general, manufacturers have seized on the EPD to confirm their good work in sustainability. But issuing an EPD can also improve a company’s product. By offering insights into how a manufacturer can make a product greener, after all, an LCA study can also offer insights into how to make it better.
What EPDs do for lighting—and what they measure
A growing trend is evident in the lighting business: End-users, like municipalities launching public street-lighting projects and private real estate companies installing lighting in their buildings, have increasingly started requesting Life-Cycle Assessment Studies and EPDs.
In the case of LED lighting hardware, LCA studies typically measure a product’s carbon footprint, to determine what role it will play in climate change. An LCA study will also determine a product’s impact—on the ozone layer, in terms of its tendency towards photo-chemical oxidation, and in terms of its fossil fuel use, among other things.