View our live webinar that we hosted during Embodied Carbon Week 2014

Embodied Carbon Week took place from 7-11 April 2014 and brought industry together to discuss the theme of ‘Life Cycle Analysis - seeing the whole picture’.

View our live webinar that we hosted during Embodied Carbon Week 2014

Webinar title:

The standard for Embodied Carbon and Life Cycle Assessments (LCA): BS EN 15804 and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for construction products

Webinar agenda:

  • What is BS EN 15804 (Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product declarations. Core rules for the product category of construction products)?
  • What is TC 350 (Committee for Sustainability of construction works)?
  • How do they link with embodied carbon and whole building LCA?
  • What EPD and EPD schemes are available using BS EN 15804?
  • What does BS EN 15804 mean for harmonization and regulation of EPDs and building LCA in Europe? 
  • How does BS EN 15804 link with the Construction Products Regulation and CE Marking?

Webinar host:

Jane Anderson, Principal Consultant at PE INTERNATIONAL

Jane is responsible for leading PE INTERNATIONAL’s work with the construction sector in the UK and is the UK expert on CEN TC350 WG3, the European Standards Committee which has developed harmonized European Standards covering EPDs for construction products.

Jane has over 15 years’ experience in Life Cycle Assessment and carbon footprinting for the construction industry.

Some examples of Jane’s project work are given below:

  • Jane has worked on the production of LCA studies and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a wide range of construction materials, including masonry, timber, plastics, metals, windows and flooring.
  • Most recently, she has been involved with providing an EPD for UK Cement for the Mineral Products Association, and generic LCA data for UK consumed timber products for Wood First Plus, an initiative by the UK timber industry
  • She co-authored a Guide to Understanding Embodied Impacts of Construction Products with the Construction Products Association
  • She provided the Embodied Carbon section of WRAP’s Procurement requirements for carbon efficiency
  • She led the technical development and consultation on the update of the BRE Environmental Profiles Methodology and the update of the BRE Green Guides, including the Green Guide Online launched in 2008. 

Jane holds a distinction in both her Masters in Environmental Architecture and Postgraduate Diploma in Life Cycle Management.

Webinar Q&A session:

What is the UK GBC embodied carbon target?
The baseline for the UK GBC embodied carbon target I think was 2010 so they are looking to reduce that from 2010 levels.

How complex do products need to be to require EPDs?
At the moment there’s no requirement for a product to have an EPD but BS EN 15804 allows you to assess a basic product so for example sawn timber and you can also assess a paint, the steel used for fixings as well as a panel made from that sawn timber and is painted. So the complexity of the product means something that you can’t assess it or the simplicity doesn’t mean you have to assess it.

Poll: Should measuring the embodied impact of our buildings be mandatory?
At the moment in the UK it’s now part of regulation, in the Netherlands it’s also possible. The poll concluded that most of the webinar delegates answered yes to the poll question.

How does BS EN 15804 deal with system expansion and value allocations?
One of the issues you have with construction products is that you very rarely make one particular product without producing something else and luckily we are now in a position where these products are not waste and are something that can be used in other ways. For example the steel industry produces slag, the electricity industry produces PFA, both of which are used in construction products as cement replacements and there are lots of other examples. There are lots of different approaches – BS EN 15804 uses an approach of in most cases economic allocation so if you have products that have co-products that have lower values than the main product then it recommends using an approach of economic allocation allocating the impact of these products on the basis of the income that you’d generate from them so most of the impact for example would go to steel rather than the blast furnace snag. There are however a couple of exclusions in the standard so I recommend that you read it to find out more.

How does PAS 2050 link with BS EN 15804?
PAS 2050 is a specification that just looks at carbon and covers all types of products and is not focused on construction like BS EN 15804. There is however a close correlation between the documents.

What are the main differences between methodologies in measurement of embodied carbon?
One of the main difficulties is that with the exception of PAS 2050 there are lots of different ways of measuring embodied carbon, lots of people can do it without actually following a standard. Another example is looking at what happens at the end of life and how you decide whether the impacts associated with recycling material whether they belong to the industry that produces the waste or the industry that uses the waste. For example disposing of tyres – is it the impact of the car industry producing the tyres or is it the impact of the construction industry using the tyres? BS EN 15804 is very clear in this area as it follows the Waste Framework Directive and you are responsible with all impacts associated with the waste until it has reached the end of waste stage. Other methodologies may look at that differently and attribute impacts in different ways.

What will be the impact of a new Mandate on BCWR7?
The commission has now asked CEN to look at basic works requirements 7 and to what existing regulation already exists in member states and the Netherlands for example does have regulations in this area now. They are also looking at what is covered in an EPD and various aspects of that and carbon would be one example so there would be moves in this area.

How mature is the linking of LCA data in BIM models?
Not very mature at the moment – there are two tools that I know of that work with BIM and LCA – BRE’s Impact Tool and a Revit add in called Tali in the States. I’m sure there are others. It’s an area that’s growing. The UK is also taking the lead in developing a format for the provision of BIM data that relates to the type of information covered in the environmental products declarations. BS EN 8541 part 6 is currently in development that will cover that. The idea of BIM is key.

Is it reasonable to expect that embodied carbon only rather than the wider range of indicators mentioned in BS EN 15804 will find its way into UK regulations within the next 5-10 years?
Yes, it is quite reasonable as we’ve seen with the Dutch system that we are not going to be setting a requirement necessarily to report the full 27 indicators that are in BS EN 15804. Carbon is definitely one of the most important indicators. Some of the other indicators for example recycling or resource use may follow through. Again just to report initially and then gradually look at regulating to reduce impact. The only barrier to this at the moment is because we don’t know what good looks like.

How does the work of CEN TC 350 being developed to expand to civil works?
At the moment the data that’s in an environmental product declaration for cement for example can be used to assess a building or tunnel or road so the data is applicable. What’s not been decided yet in the field of civil engineering is the issue of the system as it relates to what you actually include in that assessment so the diversion you put into place while you are undertaking repairs, etc. So that’s not been covered by CEN TC 350 but all of the principles of CEN TC 350 could be used for you to decide what those system boundaries are to make an assessment. You might just come up with a different boundary to a road that is being assessed by somebody else.

How do standards deal with construction products that are only used temporarily during the construction process? i.e. products that are not left embedded within a structure
They do need to be taken into account so for example something like form work when you are making concrete or scaffolding. If you are using significant amounts of it you would do an assessment of how much you are bringing in and what’s happening to it at the end of the project so if you are recycling or reusing it you would make an assessment of how much you would lose during the process and that would be taken into account. Normally you would do a sensitivity analysis of these types of temporary materials and look at it as part of the assessment of the road or building and disposal at the end of life.

Recycled content of metals. Use general recycle rate, or the specific amount used by a manufacturer?

The standards say you should use the specific amount used by the manufacturer if you are doing a manufacturer specific EPD and then you look at the end of life recycling.

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