The environmental impact of products can be assessed using standards such as BS EN 15804, using environmental product declarations (EPDs). EPDs contain information covering some or all stages of the product life cycle from raw material extraction, manufacture and fabrication, to use and end-of-life. In addition to quantified environmental information, an EPD contains a description of the manufacturing route, and a technical description of the product.
The modular nature of an EPD helps explain where the environmental impacts occur, for a particular product, across its life cycle. The greater the visibility of information across the product life cycle, and the more modules that are included in the EPD, the greater the opportunity for taking a whole life view of construction materials.
Tata Steel’s environmental product declarations (EPDs)
As an approved EPD programme operator, Tata Steel can produce externally verified product-specific, Type III environmental product declarations (EPDs) that comply with EN 15804 and ISO 14025.
Externally verified, product-specific type III EPDs allow optimum resource decisions to be made, and they demonstrate the sustainability of our steel building products. Along with Tata Steel’s BES 6001 responsible sourcing certification, EPD scheme operatorship allows us to support construction supply chains in gaining credits under building assessment schemes such as BREEAM and LEED. More information on the scheme can be found here along with our General Programme Instructions and our PCR Part 1.
Environmental impact data has been produced for our steel lintels, the externally verified EPDs can be downloaded below.
Further product environmental datasheets (PEDs) are available on request - email email@example.com detailing which lintel you require.
Are EPDs the answer to specifying sustainable materials and products?
For anybody in the construction supply chain to be able to compare products for the purpose of making informed judgements, the same level of declaration needs to be made for each product.
It’s important to be aware that not all EPDs are the same. Some, such as those that we produce under our programme operatorship, are specific to the manufacturer, others represent average industry data.
This can lead to construction professionals trying to compare products based on data that isn’t directly comparable. There is a continued move in the industry towards greater standardisation and reliability with EPD data, but anybody making decisions based on EPDs should seek to engage with the product manufacturer to understand the scope.
Assessing whole life - The importance of module D
EPDs report on the environmental impact of construction products, based on assumptions across a number of different life cycle stages, or modules.
Module A concerns the product and construction process stages. Module B covers the use of the building, while module C concerns its end of life stage. Finally, module D looks at benefits and loads ‘beyond the system boundary’ - the potential for reuse, recovery or recycling – the circular economy.
Materials and products might appear to have a low environmental impact based on their upfront carbon - or module A - but ignoring modules C and D misses wider environmental considerations over the whole life of the product. By taking a whole life approach, including Modules C and D, we get a better appreciation of the impacts of materials, not just in manufacture but also at end-of-life. Selecting materials that have minimal environmental impacts at end of life, that are readily recycled or reused, is becoming increasingly important as the construction industry looks to reduce waste and adopts design principles linked to a circular economy.
Materials and products might appear to have a low environmental impact based on their upfront carbon - or module A - but ignoring modules C and D could hide a greater environmental impact in the long term. The unintended consequence of that limited declaration is that carbon emissions in 50 or 60 years could actually increase, at a time when we might not be able to afford it.
As part of its sustainable products initiative (SPI), the European Commission is looking at harmonised methods for the reporting of products’ environmental information. Assessment methods for buildings are also being developed, through initiatives such as Level(s), for the harmonisation of life cycle data for buildings.
- Download Tata Steel Product Category Rules PCR Part 2 for Lintels
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel ANG1500
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel BSD1001500
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel CG90/1001500
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel CH90/1001500
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel CN71A2400
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel CTF51500
- Download EPD Catnic Lintel TS90/1001500