Development of Environmental Product Declaration using LCA analysis for thermal insulation systems in the construction industry.
This is an example of how one of the largest producers of construction chemicals in Poland used LCA in construction products. The company obtained a type III environmental declaration (EPD) based on the LCA for the thermal insulation system intended for thermal insulation of external walls of buildings with polystyrene. The insulation system consists of many elements, incl. adhesive mortars, thermal insulation, plasters. In Poland, effective energy insulation of new buildings is mandatory but EPDs are not mandatory. The EPD initiative in the firm resulted from following global trends and the willingness to meet future EU requirements on the commercial market. The company developed the EPD in 2014 for the first time (https://bit.ly/3orK75A) and renewed in 2019 (e.g. https://bit.ly/3hbyH31). In the process of obtaining EPD used LCA frameworks such as: ISO14044: 2006; ISO14025: 2006; ISO21930: 2017; EN15804: 2012; PN-EN15942: 2012.Calculations were made for the "cradle-to-gate" approach, taking into account the supply of raw materials, transport and production. The EPD was issued by the nationwide institution: Building Research Institute in Warsaw which conducted an LCA analysis based on data provided by the construction company (data collection: 6 months). The analysis included parameters defining the basic environmental impacts, parameters describing resource consumption and the amount of waste. The beneficiary of this practice is the company, its customers and the region.
Three people were involved on the company side: technical employee, coordinator and graphic designer. The EPD was issued by the Building Research Institute in Warsaw (https://www.itb.pl/en), which performed the LCA analysis based on data provided by the company.
Evidence of success
Thanks to the implementation of the EPD, CO2 emissions to the atmosphere were reduced by 128,000 tons (it concerns 40,000,000 m2 of insulation made in 2014-2019). Many production and resource efficiency indicators improved. SDGs addressed SDG#12, SDG#13, SDG#7. Using the data collected for EPD, the company also implements a project co-financed by ROP 2014-2020 "Development of an innovative ETICS thermal insulation system with a low carbon footprint and minimized environmental impact".
Relatively high costs of LCA and its implementation. Problems with databases and their comparability, a complex process of implementing a new business model related to EPD, temporary competition from lower costs companies (in the future, regional mitigation preferences may be possible).
Potential for learning or transfer
The potential of this practice is related to environmental impact in the region, building LCA awareness in society and among entrepreneurs, and leads to better public policy. The company's EPD initiative resulted from following international trends. Now it inspires the region. The region supports such activities and intends to disseminate similar initiatives (regional social media, website, facebook). Such companies are good examples for others. The next activity of the region will be to create preferences for such companies in regional public procurement or in the form of more accessible funding from the ROP. The guidelines in this regard are planned to be implemented in the regional action plan. EPDs can be used in many companies operating in this industry, depending on their capabilities and needs. The company has published its analysis results and estimated impacts as an example for others in the branch journal Building Materials (https://bit.ly/34RKDSL).
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