RCMA, NSF International Create Roof Coating Materials PCR

The Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) and NSF International have created a product category rule (PCR) for roof coating materials. PCRs enable product environmental information to be more transparent and useful to the marketplace. Products covered in this PCR include fluid-applied and adhered coatings used for roof maintenance or roof repair, or as a component of a roof covering system or roof assembly. 
 
Based on international environmental management guidelines (ISO 14025), a PCR defines how to conduct a life cycle assessment for a particular product group and what to include in the resulting report. A life-cycle assessment measures inputs, outputs and environmental impacts of a product across its lifespan. The environmental product declaration (EPD) is the third-party-verified report that explains the data generated from a life cycle assessment. What is included in the EPD is also defined by the PCR.

The NSF International National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS) utilized an open consultative process to develop the PCR with participation from an expert panel of RCMA members, suppliers, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and end users.  RCMA promotes the benefits of roof coatings and represents manufacturers of asphaltic and solar reflective roof coatings as well as suppliers to the roof coatings industry. 

“This product category rule developed by RCMA and NSF International provides our industry a needed guideline for calculating and reporting the environmental attributes of roof coatings,” says Jim Kirby, executive director of RCMA. “The subsequent life cycle analyses developed by our members using the PCR can provide a basis for improvement to enable reductions in environmental impacts over time. We look forward to the positive impact this will have on the industry and those seeking more sustainable building products.”

“As a manufacturer participating in the PCR development, we support our industry in providing transparent and science-based information to our customers,” says Douglas P. Mazeffa, environmental project manager at Sherwin Williams. “Our company is committed to helping customers make informed, environmentally-based purchasing decisions.”
 
“Industries benefit from NSF International’s standards development process that was used to develop the PCR for roof coating materials,” states Jessica Slomka, manager of the NSF International National Center for Sustainability Standards. “By engaging RCMA members and other stakeholders, we help ensure the environmental impacts in the life cycle of a product are represented. The result is a defined set of rules that enable comparative data to be gathered and reported in a standardized fashion. This is crucial in helping builder’s source products that meet their environmental goals.”

Verified environmental product declarations (EPDs) as defined by this PCR may help building projects qualify for points through the LEED v4 Material and Resource credits and comply with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).   

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.

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.

ARMA and ASTM to Develop Product Category Rules for Asphalt Roofing in North America

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has partnered with ASTM International to develop Product Category Rules (PCR) for asphalt roofing in North America. The new PCR will provide consistent methodologies for asphalt roofing manufacturers to measure and report the expected environmental impact of their products. This new document can be accessed for free on ASTM International’s website (www.astm.org/certification).

PCRs provide guidelines for the development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a specific product group. PCRs are valuable to any industry because they streamline the process through which products are measured and their environmental impacts communicated, creating globally consistent documentation. Asphalt roofing manufacturers can use these guidelines to review their own products and develop an EPD, which is a verified document that reports the expected environmental performance of a product based on its expected life cycle. An EPD uses the data collected through PCR guidelines to provide comparable environmental impact data for similar products.

“This PCR is a significant, universal resource for the asphalt roofing industry,” said ARMA executive vice president Reed Hitchcock. “It provides asphalt roofing manufacturers with a way to collect, measure, and communicate data pertaining to expected product environmental impacts through an Environmental Product Declaration, and will give consumers and industry professionals new insight into asphalt roofing materials. Developing these guidelines helps further ARMA’s commitment to transparency and environmental sustainability.”

ARMA and several of its member companies participated in the development of this PCR, titled “Asphalt Shingles, Built-Up Asphalt Membrane Roofing, and Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing.” The guidelines cover asphalt shingles applied over underlayment, and low-slope roofing assemblies consisting of various combinations of factory-produced asphalt-saturated or coated base sheets, ply sheets and cap sheets together with specified viscous asphalt coatings, adhesives and surfacings.

ASTM began its PCR and EPD program in 2012 to provide an infrastructure that can be used for the evaluation and communication of a product’s full-lifecycle environmental impacts. ASTM develops PCRs in partnership with various segments of the building construction industry and in accordance with international standards. ARMA’s partnership with ASTM was an efficient way to provide a PCR to asphalt roofing manufacturers that is standard among researchers, developers, consumers and businesses.