Program Operator Consortium Welcomes Two New Affiliate Members

The green building industry’s consortium of program operators has announced the addition of two new affiliate members: NRMCA (National Ready Mixed Concrete Association), a concrete advocate organization, and Sustainable Solutions Corp., an environmental consulting firm.
 
The Program Operator Consortium launched last year to provide standardized, and more useful environmental-product transparency solutions and to reduce complexity in the marketplace. The consortium serves as a resource and advocate for creating product category rules (PCRs), reviewing life cycle assessment reports (LCA), and verifying and publishing environmental product declarations (EPDs).
 
“As one of the leading EPD operators in the construction materials industry, we must consider opportunities to deliver value to our membership,” states James Bogdan, senior director of sustainability initiatives with NRMCA. “Joining the POC allows our industry access to a network of practitioners and experts, and insight to evolving environmental disclosure reporting.”
 
“Sustainable Solutions Corp. is excited to join the Program Operator Consortium as an affiliate member because of our commitment to product transparency and to help ensure the production of transparency documents,” says Tad Radzinski, president of Sustainable Solutions Corp. “We bring to the consortium our years of experience completing LCAs and EPDs, a team of certified LCA practitioners, and our objective of using LCA data to drive sustainability, product innovation and continuous improvement.”
 
These two affiliate members join thinkstep, a software, data and environmental consulting services company, which was the consortium’s first affiliate member. Regular members of the Consortium include: ASTM International, CSA Group, ICC-Evaluation Service, NSF Sustainability, SCS Global Services, and Sustainable Minds.
 
The Affiliate Member Program was created for industry associations, government agencies, standards developers, consultants, and data providers to have access to expertise from a like-minded community. The free program also provides education, discounted rates, and a seat at the table to contribute to creating uniformity across environmental reporting formats, data requirements, and communication.
 
Each consortium member is represented in the group’s Technical Advisory Board. These LCA experts oversee the implementation of the consortium’s North American two-part PCR framework, which consortium members have aligned to use and maintain over the past year. Today, PCRs created by any member will produce standardized environmental declarations, helping both manufacturers as well as decision-makers who specify green building materials and products. The first catalog of North American PCRs and an aggregated catalog of EPDs from members’ programs are available at here.
 
The consortium holds both in-person meetings and webinars with global manufacturers, LCA providers, and industry trade associations. Those interested in joining or learning more about the consortium are encouraged to contact info@programoperators.org.

Duro-Last Single-Ply Roofing Membranes Earn Platinum Certification

Duro-Last announces that it has achieved platinum certification under the NSF American National Standard for Sustainable Roofing Membranes, NSF/ANSI 347. Certified by UL, this standard represents that Duro-Last manufactures a product that is third-party verified as sustainable, durable, and high performing. The certification applies to 40, 50 and 60 mil, white, tan, gray and dark gray as well as 50 mil terra cotta Duro-Last membranes.
 
“Duro-Last was excited to have most of our membrane product lines certified by this third-party standard,” says Jason Tunney, executive vice president and general counsel of Duro-Last. “But we wanted to take it to the next level and achieve the highest rating possible.”
 
NSF/ANSI 347 was written by NSF International and, according to their website, is based on life-cycle assessment principles. NSF/ANSI 347 employs a point system to evaluate roofing membranes against established prerequisite requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in five key areas:

  • Product design
  • Product manufacturing
  • Membrane durability
  • Corporate governance
  • Innovation

 
Obtaining this certification will help the Duro-Last membrane meet the market demand for products that comply with green building standards like the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes. Product specifiers and purchasers are under pressure to find products that meet their sustainability criteria, and having the NSF 347 certification can give them the peace of mind of specifying a third-party verified product.
 
This certification is one more step in Duro-Last’s commitment to sustainability and transparency, coming after the announcement of the publication of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Duro-Tuff, Duro-Fleece and Duro-Last EV membranes. To read more about Duro-Last’s sustainability efforts, visit here.
 
“There’s talk in the roofing industry about being ‘green’ and sustainable,” says Katie Chapman, Duro-Last corporate sustainability specialist. “At Duro-Last we want to help people make informed decisions when purchasing roofing products.”
 
For more information regarding Duro-Last’s sustainability initiatives contact Katie Chapman at (800)248-0280 or kchapman@duro-last.com.

Green-building Consortium Addresses Product Transparency, LCAs, EPDs and Effective PCRs

A first-of-its-kind consortium in the green-building industry convened 15 manufacturers and industry representatives from around the world to hear their needs for enhancing product transparency and stewardship through effective product category rules (PCRs), life cycle assessment reports (LCAs), environmental product declarations (EPDs), and next-generation product transparency solutions, including Sustainable Minds Transparency Reports.

The manufacturer’s roundtable was held in conjunction with an ASTM International conference attended by top technical experts in sustainability, building performance and several other industries.

“What we heard today was that as the demand for environmental stewardship across the green building industry increases, the need for consistent, standardized and scalable solutions grows in tandem,” says Tim Brooke, vice president, ASTM International. “That’s exactly what our four organizations are aiming to address as we communicate and deliver the value of voluntary product stewardship.”

In addition to ASTM, the Program Operator Consortium includes NSF International, ICC Evaluation Service and Sustainable Minds. The group launched in 2015 to serve as an expert resource and advocate for creating PCRs, for reviewing LCAs, and for verifying and publishing environmental declarations.

During the roundtable, the consortium announced that its four members have aligned how they develop PCRs and declarations, giving greater flexibility and visibility for manufacturers and decision-makers who are tasked with finding, comparing, and selecting products for projects.

EPDs Provide a New Level of Environmental Transparency to Building Products

The sustainability movement has impacted the building industry in many ways. Today’s architects, owners and occupants have much greater expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in. Part of this expectation is focused on the components that make up the building. For example, did the wood come from responsibly harvested forests? Is the metal made of recycled material? Do the paint and interior finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is developed by applying a Product Category Rule, or PCR. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others.

An EPD is developed by applying a Product Category Rule. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others. IMAGE: Quantis US

Information technology has encouraged and facilitated this increased demand for in-depth data about building components and systems. People have become accustomed to being able to gather exhaustive information about the products they buy through extensive labeling or online research.

In response to the growing demand for environmental product information, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs.

It’s a term now commonly heard, but what are they? EPDs are often spoken in the same breath as things like LCA (life-cycle assessment), PCRs (product category rules) and many other TLAs (three-letter acronyms). The fact is they are all related and are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building.

“An EPD is a specific document that informs the reader about the environmental performance of a product,” explains Sarah Mandlebaum, life-cycle analyst with Quantis US, the Boston-based branch of the global sustainability consulting firm Quantis. “It balances the need for credible and thorough information with the need to make such information reasonably understandable. The information provided in the document is based on a life-cycle assessment, or LCA, of the product, which documents the environmental impacts of that product from ‘cradle to grave.’ This includes impacts from material production, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of the product. An EPD is simply a standardized way of communicating the outcomes of such an assessment.”

The concept of product LCAs has been around for some time and has often been looked at as a way of determining the sustainability of a particular product by establishing the full scope of its environmental footprint. The basic idea is to closely catalog everything that goes into a product throughout its entire life. That means the energy, raw materials, and emissions associated with sourcing its materials, manufacturing it, transporting it, installing it and, ultimately, removing and disposing of it. In the end, an LCA results in a dizzying amount of data that can be difficult to translate or put in any context. EPDs are one way to help provide context and help put LCA data to use.

“The summary of environmental impact data in the form of an EPD can be analogous to a nutrition label on food,” says Scott Kriner, LEED AP, technical director of the Metal Construction Association (MCA), Chicago. “There is plenty of information on the label, but the information itself is meaningless unless one is focused on one area. An LCA determines the water, energy and waste involved in the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation to a job site and the reclamation of waste at the end of the useful life of a product. With that data in hand, the various environmental impact categories can be determined and an EPD can be developed to summarize the environmental impact information.”

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Long-term Performance of Roof Systems

The April e-newsletter distributed by Roofing contained an online exclusive about sustainability. The author, Brooks Gentleman, an owner of window refurbisher Re-View, Kansas City, Mo., questioned whether we’re talking about the right things when referring to a building as sustainable. He says, “During the past 10 years, there has been a great deal of talk about green buildings and sustainability, but how many of these ‘green’ commercial or residential buildings are designed or constructed to last for centuries? When will the life cycle of the structure and the construction materials themselves become factors in the sustainability criteria? It seems to me that more effort is placed on whether a material is recyclable than whether it can perform over the long haul. It is time that the design community, manufacturers and construction processes begin to consider the life of the building if we are truly going to incorporate sustainability in our industry.” (Read the entire article.)

Gentleman’s commentary is the perfect precursor to this issue, which has a focus on the long-term performance of a roof system. Three “Tech Point” articles explain the life spans of metal, EPDM and asphalt, respectively. The authors—Chuck Howard P.E., a Roofing editorial advisor; Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, CSI, FRCI, RRC, RRP, a Roofing editorial advisor; and James R. Kirby, AIA—share roof-cover characteristics that achieve and industry studies that prove long-term performance.

Insulation is a component that will help extend the life of a roof system. In “Cool Roofing”, Kyle Menard, president of Bloom Roofing, Brighton, Mich., shares insight about polyisocyanurate, specifically how it contributes to long-term roof performance and why the roofing industry should educate clients about its importance as part of a roof system.

As architects, building owners and occupants increase their expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs. EPDs are related to life-cycle assessments and product category rules, all of which are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building. In “Environmental Trends”, Allen Barry writes about the significance of EPDs for the roofing industry.

As a longtime proponent of sustainability, it’s wonderful to see the conversation turning toward the critical issue of durability and long-term performance. Yes, specifying materials with recycled content or from sustainably managed forests is a nice consideration, but if those materials will only last a few years and must be replaced, we’re expending more energy—and money—using them. There’s nothing sustainable about that.