Your guide to the changing criteria for full-life EPD calculations

EN 15804 is the cornerstone Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) standard which has been broadly accepted worldwide. Last year, EPDs changed significantly with the introduction of EN 15804+A2 and we have gathered all the essential information here to help you understand what it means and what your obligations are with the new criteria.

Summary of key points:

  • The new A2 amendment means that products now have to demonstrate their environmental impact at the end-of-life stage as well as the cradle-to-gate stage
  • Businesses are going to have to adapt and go beyond previous standards to meet the requirements of this new amendment
  • Specifiers will be able to choose products with more confidence than ever before and think beyond the lifetime of the building
  • This is an environmental win for the whole sector

What does the A2 amendment mean for you?

The EN 15804 standard was originally designed to standardise the declaration and calculation of the environmental performance of construction products. It subsequently had an A1 amendment which made it mandatory to apply a common set of characteristic factors to ensure that the environmental impacts it measured were comparable between products.

This approach was mirrored by ISO 21930 to create harmony between the two standards and smooth out any potential barriers to using products. Now, the A2 amendment put in place in 2022 means that there is a gap between the two standards again.

All public procurement bodies in the EU and EEA are bound by law to use EPDs complying with this standard. They are also recognised by the most widely used environmental assessment calculations including BREEAM and LEED.

Fundamentally, every organisation using EPDs needs to update their systems and processes to align with the A2 amendment within three years. In practice, this means that you will end up going beyond what is required by ISO 21930 to meet the new standard.

Unlike with standard revisions, unamended EPDs cannot be used following the bedding in period, and therefore you will not be able to meet the standards by specifying products which do not meet the A2 amendment.

Greater transparency around biogenic carbon emissions and storage handling

A big emphasis of the A2 amendment is the increased focus on the whole life of the product, rather than just the emissions created in production or installation. Part of this is the proper integration of biogenic emissions and those generated from storage handling.

Biogenic emissions include those created by the product in landfill in its end-of-life phase, and so a product like Specwall which sends only a minimal amount of product to landfill will naturally produce less of them. With the new A2 EPD amendment, this becomes more apparent and will force specifiers to think harder about what products they choose.

Increased number of impact categories

The previous A1 update reported on seven separate impact categories, two of which covered resource depletion. The A2 amendment goes much further and includes 13 core impact categories for every product across all stages of the EPD from A to D.

The A2 amendment also includes an additional six categories which cover human health impact and land-use-related impacts. Overall, this makes EPDs much more precise following the A2 amendment and ensures that you can specify with confidence. The more information you have, the more future proof your choice now and in the future, all the way up to decommissioning of the building and beyond.

End-of-life calculations required (module D)

The new amendment makes it mandatory for all products to cover modules A1-A3, C1-C4 and D as part of the minimum scope. By doing so, the EPD will not only show the impact of a product from cradle to gate, it will also cover the end-of-life phase and other further impacts.

This is a more complex calculation and it will make all current EPDs invalid until they can account for the environmental impact of their products at the end-of-life phase – or to put it another way, how does the product stand up environmentally when it is disposed of or recycled?

Specwall is one product which performs extremely well in this regard as at least half of the product can be demounted and re-used either in situ or elsewhere, as measured by our EPD. See more about Specwall’s EPD performance by clicking here.

If an EPD does not include the module D end-of-life calculations, you will have to undertake a lot of paperwork and documentation to satisfy that requirement yourself. It is altogether easier to only specify products which already include this on their EPD.

How does Specwall perform in its EPD?

Our A2 panel performed extremely strongly in the following ways, especially when it comes to the module D considerations which are a key part of the EN 15804+A2 amendment update:

  • Panel can be removed and reused in a different location at the end of the building lifetime (30 years assumed as standard).
  • 50% of panels reused without any changes by cutting down the middle, re-forming grooves and reinstalling.
  • 38% of panels recycled and used as aggregate.
  • 10% returned to Specwall for use as samples.
  • Only 2% sent to landfill.

The EN 15804+A2 amendment is a major change that all specifiers should be aware of. An up to date EPD will now measure not just the cradle-to-gate impact of a product, but also how it fares at the end-of-life stage and beyond.

Want to learn more about our EPD and the outstanding end-of-life performance of the Specwall product? Get in touch today by clicking here.

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