Tag Archives: EPD

Raising the Bar

A new partnership between the USGBC and UL sheds light on product transparency.

By Daniel Overbey

This article was originally published in January/February 2015 issue of USGBC+ magazine.

Mikhail Davis, director of restorative enterprise at Interface, explains it was not until the company adopted a life-cycle approach to sustainability that the true impacts of Interface’s products could be understood. Photo: Huntsman Architecture


It has been 15 years since the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. That first year, 51 projects participated. Today, LEED is the most widely recognized green building program in the world, guiding the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of over 68,000 projects globally.

With the emergence of LEED, USGBC’s mission of market transformation took the first steps toward realization. Credits for single-attribute building products featuring recycled content, certified wood, or regional sourcing prompted manufacturers to not just divulge such characteristics about their products, but also to make the information easy to find. Today, manufacturers of building products routinely offer lists of green attributes through convenient resources.

As the market for green building products continues to evolve and improve, it is clear that LEED must continue to lead if it is to remain relevant. Enter the rating system’s latest update—version 4—where credits have been revised to ensure that they truly add quality to the utility of a project. In the case of building products, this means going beyond crediting single-attributes and toward an integrative life-cycle-based framework by encouraging manufacturers to disclose information about the materials that comprise their products—enabling practitioners to make better decisions.

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Retracing the Steps of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

Interface Modular® Carpet Tile with GlasBac® Backing & Solution Dyed Type 6 Nylon.
Source: Interface

Environmental Product Declarations (or EPDs) are a hot topic right now in the green building industry. The issue of building product transparency is reaching critical mass, and thanks to LEED v4 there is no reason to believe interest will wane any time soon.

Explanation of an EPD (in 60 words or less):

An EPD is a standardized way of quantifying the environmental impact of a product. They provide information to enable parties to determine the product’s environmental impact through reports used for consistent comparison among similar products. A qualified third party provides independent verification of quantitative data in accordance with a standardized methodology so that similar products can be compared objectively.

For a more detailed description of environmental product declarations, click here.

Where do EPDs show up in LEED v4?

Materials and Resources (MR), Credit 2:
Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Environmental Product Declarations
(language from LEED v4, 5th public comment draft)

This credit is worth two points and as the name implies, a point is earned for “disclosure” and “optimization” separately.

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