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CAPEM EPD LCA (Collaborate) G#542 N#562

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CAPEM EPD LCA Collaborate
Environmental Product Declarations  Life Cycle Assessment

CAPEM EPD LCA Collaborate



LCA are based on hard and fast facts based on actual quantities recipe percentages and known material impacts, usually from ‘cradle’ (excavation from earth, extraction from plantations, etc.) to factory gate after manufacture.

EPD add onto the LCA from Factory Gate to Grave (including: construction, in use phase and end of life, landfill, recovery of energy (combustion) or nutrients (composting)) all of which is outside the realms of facts since they all occur in the future and based on current normal or best practice and some speculation.

Results of CAP’EM LCA and CAP’EM EPD can be recorded in CAP’EM Product Data Sheet schedules, entry in CAP’EM Compass on-line tool and GBS Robust Specification clauses.

All of these results can be recorded in BIM-ready GBE CAD files promoted from GBE Product pages

CAP’EM Individual Impacts come out of LCA Life Cycle Analysis and are used for two important activities:

CAP’EM Marginal Analysis to understand the relative impact of all the individual ingredients or parts e.g. products, packaging, inputs, outputs, plastics, chemicals,

CAP’EM Individual Impacts Calculation and disclosure of individual impacts used in literature and calculations e.g. Embodied Carbon, Global Warming Potential, Sequestered Carbon

CAP’EM Product Improvement Using Marginal Analysis GBE assist the manufacturer to improve the product by minimising quantities of high impact ingredients or packaging and replacing them with lower impact materials or energy sources.

CAP’EM DeTox uses a number of existing databases with detailed information on individual materials and chemicals to identify the worst offenders and identify other materials to consider for their replacements.

The manufacturer must then experiment with the alternatives to find the optimum performance with lower impacts.

This process can help in the REACH regulation drive to remove unhealthy chemicals from manufacturing.

PASS Product Accessory System Screening

GBE use PASS to screen out the materials that have the highest environmental impacts and more importantly to identify the materials that have least impact and have a substantial contribution to make in use.

PASS is used to select the Products that are then promoted in GBE Product Pages

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
4th March 2013 – 12th October 2016

CAPEM EPD LCA Collaborate

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) provides verified information about the impact a material or product has upon the environment.

  • EPDs are similar to the ingredient labels on food packaging- though in the place of calories, sugars and salt, they quantify a variety of environmental impact categories including global warming gases, toxicity to water and land, fossil fuel depletion and water extraction.
  • EPDs are prepared according to the strict international ISO 14000 series of environmental performance information standards and are verified by an independent third party.
  • The information published in an EPD is based upon a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
  • An LCA examines and quantifies the range of environmental impacts from ‘cradle to grave’ – from the point of raw material extraction, through manufacture, installation, use, demolition and finally disposal.
  • The information is presented in a format that enables users to compare data between products as part of the design process.
  • EPDs are produced for all consumer products as well as construction products.

Why use EPDs?

  • EPDs in the construction industry have been developed to meet with the increasing demand by architects, designers and specifiers for consistent and transparent information about the impact that construction materials and products have on the environment.
  • EPDs remove any doubt about the environmental impacts of a product. Because they meet with rigorous international standards, they are, above all, credible.
  • An EPD helps a manufacturer better communicate the environmental impact of a product.
  • An EPD can substantiate a ‘green claim’. So for example if a manufacturer claims that a new product results in a smaller ‘environmental footprint’, the EPD can back-up that claim with real data.


The CAP’EM EPD service provides a one-stop-shop for manufacturers looking to publish an Environmental Product Declaration about their products.

The service includes carrying out a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based on data supplied by the manufacturer and others, as well as the preparation of an extensive report that forms the EPD to the ISO 14025 standard.

What is considered in an EPD?

An EPD calculates the impact of a product. To do this the assessor will build a model of the processes required to get to the finished product. This is often referred to as an “embodied” or “cradle to gate” analysis, referring to the factory gate as the end point for the assessment. The assessor may then, if needed, assess how the material is used (“in use” impacts) and how it may be disposed (“end of life” impacts) to build up a model of the full life cycle of the product or “cradle to grave” analysis. These later stages can only be modelled by assuming what may happen in its life in the future, however the embodied impacts can be modelled accurately provided that data regarding the inputs and outputs of the factory relevant to the product being assessed can be substantiated.

What is needed for a “Cradle to Gate” EPD?

The level of detail required to model a products’ environmental impact successfully requires data on all raw materials and energy used as well as any emissions and wastes. This will require quantities of materials and energy used as well as how it is delivered, e.g. X tonnes of Y raw material delivered by truck from Z address, or X amount of grid electricity.

It is also imperative that the quantities of raw materials and energy used can be calculated back to a single unit of product. Whilst this may be simple for factories where only one product is produced and the total annual inputs/outputs can be divided by the annual production, it becomes more difficult if many products are manufactured under the same roof. In these cases a reliable allocation of inputs/outputs must be prepared which in some cases may require individual monitoring of manufacturing stages e.g. to ascertain the quantity of energy used during production of one product.

What is needed for a “Cradle to Grave” EPD?

In addition to the data required to perform a cradle to gate EPD to study the full life cycle of a product will require further details of how the product will be used and disposed of. In many cases the in use and end of life scenarios are out of the manufacturers hands and may entail many scenarios to be modelled to give a meaning full representation of what may happen to the product and how this may impact the environment.  Most construction products are passive and so if they have been specified correctly they will perform the function they are required for as well as another material it is being compared to (though it may for example require a different quantity of material to perform the same function e.g. a different thickness of insulation to provide the same U value).  However, with non-passive products such as electrical goods, much of the products impact will come from the in use phase and so modelling this will also be very important.  For example many electrical products may use more electricity over its life than was required to make it and so detailed analysis of its performance will be required to model its total impact.

What actually happens and what do manufacturers have to do

The process starts with a telephone interview, which is intended to determine the manufacturing work flow.  This includes understanding the materials purchased and used; water, energy and heat inputs; energy and fuel consumption as well as: rates of handling equipment and machinery used, human actions, mechanical, heat, electrical, chemical or other processes; details of and disposal or recycling of materials; emissions to land water and air; and to consider if there are any other by-products or co-products making any use of the secondary materials, damaged and rejects, surplus, recyclate, etc.

This is translated into a work flow diagram and inventory of inputs and outputs associated with the product. These are used in a factory visit to confirm the preliminary model of the manufacture.

The factory visit has many purposes in addition to looking at the work flow; the LCA assessor will need to see evidence of the quantities of materials and energy used and associated with the product. This often required viewing receipts and bills for a given period and details of transportation and packaging.

The next stage is to see evidence for the outgoings of the factory associated with the product by assessing the quantities of product sold and quantity of packaging and mode of delivery as well as any waste and emissions reporting. This may require viewing any billing and environmental reporting for a given period (usually 1 year) as well as viewing the factory in order to check for anomalies.

The finished inventory will then be made available to the manufacture in the form of a spreadsheet for their scrutiny as are the final calculations prior to the assessment being peer reviewed.

Other services from an LCA process:

Having carried out the LCA process the data created enables assessment of other material characteristics:

e.g. Global Warming Potential (GWP), Green House Gas Potential (GHGP), Carbon Footprint (CF), Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), etc.

Carbon Foot prints for example can be carried out in accordance with latest edition of Carbon Trust’s (CT) Publicly Available Standard PAS 2050 and reviewed by them leading to a CT Accredited Assessment.

GBE EPD can offer an ‘or equivalent’ service to the CT without the CT Accredited service.

These do not need the full report associated with EPDs but still need to be peer reviewed.


Complimentary services available with LCA & EPD:

Much of the data required for the LCA are also collectable for GBE PASS Product Assembly System Screening, CAP’EM Product Data Sheets, GBS Robust Specification, to add products to databases or to add a GBE Product Pages on GBE Website

If any of these are of interest please contact us

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
©Andrew Norton
2nd July 2011 – 12th October 2016

CAP’EM EPD LCA Collaborate
See Also:


NBS National Building Specification

Construction Products Directive/Regulations
Product labels with Sustainability at heart
Scroll towards the bottom of the article GBE EPD

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
4th March 2013 – 21st July 2013

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