Green Building Consortium Welcomes New Members

The green building industry’s consortium of program operators announced at Greenbuild the addition of two new members and an enhanced technical advisory board. CSA Group is now a member, while thinkstep is the group’s affiliate member.
 
This marks the first anniversary of the Program Operator Consortium, which launched last year to provide 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).
 
CSA Group, a Canadian standards development organization, joins existing members of the consortium: ASTM International, ICC-Evaluation Service, NSF Sustainability, SCS Global Services and Sustainable Minds. “CSA Group is pleased to be joining the Program Operator Consortium and working together to ensure EPDs and PCRs are developed in a consistent fashion, following ISO standards and industry best practice, in order to showcase a product’s environmental impact,” said Michael Leering, the organization’s director of sustainability.
 
The first affiliate member of the consortium is thinkstep, a software, data, and environmental-consulting services company that works with 40 percent of the Fortune 500. “Standardizing the PCR and EPD creation process will contribute to lowering costs and increasing the use of products that reduce environmental impact,” said Nuno da Silva, thinkstep’s director of product sustainability. “We’re delighted to contribute to this effort.”
 
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 program also provides education, discounted rates, and the ability 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. 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. A catalog of North American PCRs and an aggregated catalog of EPDs from members’ programs are available at www.programoperators.org.
 
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.

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.

CertainTeed Accepts Entries for Living Spaces Home Makeover Contest

Transform your family home from drab to dazzling by entering to win an expansive remodel from CertainTeed Corp., a North American brand of building products. Now accepting video entries, the annual Living Spaces Home Makeover Contest encourages homeowners to creatively showcase their wish lists for a dream house exterior redesign.

This summer, one lucky winner will receive an incredible $100,000 grand prize, which includes $75,000 worth of building products, including professional installation and a $25,000 tax gross-up payment. In prior years, winners received $75,000 worth of building products and installation; however, this year CertainTeed has pulled out all the stops by not only increasing the value to assist with ancillary costs, but also awarding energy-efficient attic insulation for complete home comfort behind the scenes.

To enter the contest, homeowners simply need to grab their cell phone or video camera and show off their family’s acting talents and unique personalities by uploading their most entertaining 30- to 90-second video to the CertainTeed Living Spaces Facebook page. Videos should be creative and fun, such as using an original story idea or theme to explain why their home needs a makeover using CertainTeed’s extensive selection of polymer, insulated and vinyl siding, designer roofing, housewrap, insulation, decking, railing, fence and trim.

CertainTeed will be accepting entries through 11 p.m. EST on May 31 and will announce the winner on or about June 15.

Video entries will appear on the CertainTeed Living Spaces Facebook contest page where visitors can vote for their favorite until 11 p.m. EST on June 7. The top 10 videos that have received the greatest number of “like” votes will be finalists for best overall pick by CertainTeed judges. The winning family will also star in a series of Facebook and YouTube video webisodes featuring their home’s remarkable transformation, with the freedom to choose the latest mix and match of products, colors, styles and textures for exceptional curb appeal; combined with energy-saving insulation. Nine runners-up will each receive $500 outdoor living prize packages. For more information and complete contest rules and details, visit the CertainTeed Living Spaces Facebook page.

CertainTeed offers unsurpassed Freedom of Choice through its portfolio of roofing, long-lasting polymer, insulated and vinyl siding as well as fence, railing, decking, exterior trim and the energy-saving benefits of new attic insulation. CertainTeed offers the advantage of using exterior products from a single source that are designed to mix-and-match with each other and feature authentic textures, versatile styles and rich color combinations for a beautifully coordinated look. As the result of a strong commitment to environmental responsibility, CertainTeed is the first manufacturer to issue and publish third-party validated life cycle assessments (LCA) for its vinyl and trim product lines. For more information, visit CertainTeed’s Freedom of Choice Web page.

PIMA Announces Environmental Product Declarations for Polyiso Roof and Wall Insulations

Consistent with its delivery of energy-efficient and sustainable building insulation solutions, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced the receipt of third party-verified ISO-compliant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for polyisocyanurate (polyiso) roof and wall insulations as manufactured by PIMA members across North America. An EPD is an internationally recognized and standardized tool that reports the environmental impacts of products.

These EPDs document that the energy-savings potential of polyiso roof and wall insulation during a typical 60-year building life span is equal to up to 47 times the initial energy required to produce, transport, install, maintain, and eventually remove and dispose of the insulation. In addition to a high return on embodied energy, the EPDs document that polyiso roof and wall insulation offer high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, recycled content, opportunity for reuse and outstanding fire performance.

Beyond providing consistent and comparable environmental impact data, the PIMA polyiso EPDs also present information about additional environmental and energy characteristics, including the high net return on energy provided by polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Specifically, the polyiso EPDs describe the environmental impacts of the combined weighted average production for PIMA member manufacturing locations located across the United States and Canada, based on an established set of product category rules applicable to all types of building thermal insulation. The environmental impacts reported in the PIMA polyiso EPDs are derived from independently verified cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) process, including all critical elements related to the resourcing, production, transport, installation, maintenance, and eventual removal and replacement of polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Using the LCA process, the PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation products are evaluated on a number of impact categories including global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential, and smog creation potential, as well as other environmental indicators including primary energy demand, resource depletion, waste to disposal, waste to energy, and water use.

PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation EPDs also meet the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED v4 Green Building Rating System under Credit MRC-2 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization: Environmental Product Declarations as industry-wide or generic declarations that may be valued as one-half of an eligible product for the purposes of credit calculation.

“These third party-verified EPDs for polyiso roof and wall insulation products produced by PIMA manufacturers reflect our industry’s commitment to sustainability and transparency in reporting environmental performance,” says Jared Blum, president of PIMA. “These EPDs will be a valuable tool to provide environmental information to all building and design professionals, and they should be especially helpful in meeting emerging criteria for green building design.”

Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance Completes ISO-compliant Life Cycle Assessments

The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), the educational and technical resource to the spray polyurethane foam industry, has announced the completion of an ISO-compliant Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for three generic formulations that include open-cell, closed-cell and roofing foams. The Life Cycle Assessment is published and available as a free download from the SPFA website. Using the results of the LCA, the SPFA has collaborated with UL Environments to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), which allows spray polyurethane foam contractors to assist sustainable building designers in obtaining proper credit among leading sustainable building programs for spray foam insulation and roofing materials use.

An EPD is a third-party reviewed document that summarizes the results of the more detailed LCA. EPDs are required by design professionals to satisfy requirements of many sustainable building programs, such as the US Green Building Council’s LEED v4 program, the International Green Construction Code and GreenGlobes, to name a few. For example, the current LEED v4 program enables a building design to earn 1/4 point for using products that have an LCA; 1/2 point for products with a generic EPD (such as the one from SPFA), and 1 point for products using a product-specific EPD from a material supplier.

SPF contractors may now provide copies of the generic SPFA EPD to sustainable building designers to assure proper credit for SPF insulation and roofing materials. The EPD can also be used as general supporting information for customers wanting to use ‘green’ products. The SPFA EPD and related Transparency Briefs for each foam class are now available at no charge from the UL Environments website.