ARLINGTON, Va. — Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), documents that explain how a product will impact the environment, are becoming more popular as the interest in green building grows. Now, the building industry can add aluminum to a list of products that come with an EPD.
On Nov. 18, the Aluminum Association released EPDs for various types of aluminum products. An EPD is a comprehensive report that describes the potential environmental impact of a particular product throughout its lifecycle. The report is recognized internationally, so there is no variation. EPDs are now being used to help earn credit points for green building certification under LEED v4, the newest version of the LEED green building program that was launched in November 2013.
The Aluminum Association partnered with PE International to develop EPDs for five representative aluminum products. PE International is a sustainability software and consulting company based in Germany that helps with evaluating a product’s environmental impact throughout its lifecycle — from raw material extraction to removal or recycling.
The association said its partnership with PE International was one of the largest industry lifecycle assessment (LCA) studies ever completed. A total of 25 aluminum companies participated in the effort and supplied data for almost all of their operational facilities. The EPDs were certified by UL Environment, a leading firm in verifying EPDs that’s based in Northbrook, Ill.
The EPDs provide detailed information on major aspects of a product’s potential environmental impact such as global warming, acidification and eutrophication. The information will help industry users, such as builders, transportation firms and consumer products companies, to become educated on the metal’s impact.
The EPD reports are based on industry-wide survey data and represent average production input across all aluminum making in the United States and Canada. The report was developed in accordance with ISO 14025 reporting standards.
The association has developed EPDs on hot-rolled aluminum, cold-rolled aluminum, extruded aluminum, primary ingot and secondary ingot.
“This is just one more example of our industry advancing its commitment to sustainability,” said Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, in a statement. “Infinitely recyclable aluminum is one of the greenest materials in use today and these EPDs will strengthen our customers’ ability to make informed choices about using this innovative metal.”
Aluminum products can lower energy costs and carbon emissions in dozens of applications, according to the Aluminum Association. Aluminum roofs can reflect up to 95 percent of sunlight, helping improve building energy efficiency. Recycled and lightweight aluminum packaging can reduce shipping costs and carbon emissions for beverage makers, and high-strength aluminum can lower the weight of cars, trucks, planes and other vehicles, reducing fuel consumption.
In addition, the association reported, recent technological advances and voluntary environmental efforts mean that aluminum made in North America is more sustainable today than ever before. The energy required to produce new aluminum is down more than a quarter since 1995, while the metal’s carbon footprint is down nearly 40 percent.
To download the new aluminum EPDs, visit www.aluminum.org/EPD.