Environmental product declarations, or how the construction industry is working towards sustainable building

Progressive climate change is causing more and more sectors to take action aimed at countering the effects of global heating. This includes the construction industry. which accounts for a sizeable part of carbon dioxide emissions. One means of reducing the negative effects of buildings on the environment is using construction materials which are produced and used in ways that have a limited impact on the state of nature and the climate. Manufacturers confirm this by obtaining environmental declarations for their products. Ecological certification of construction products

What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD®)? And what are the benefits of having these declarations? ALUPROF S.A. is a leader in the creation of innovative aluminium architectural fenestration and external blind systems. 

The company has been receiving EPDs for its aluminium systems since 2019 and one of its experts answers these questions for us. 

EPDs are also referred to as Type III declarations. A kind of certification, they set out a product’s environmental impact in terms of raw material extraction and the energy consumption, water consumption and waste generation at each stage of its manufacture and throughout its life cycle, from the acquisition of materials, via the production stage, transport, assembly, installation and use, to disposal and recycling. The impact is determined by carrying out what is known as a life cycle assessment (LCA, with the certification being awarded on the basis of expert evaluations carried out by authorised, independent bodies, such as building research institutes, which have the requisite skills and knowledge in the field and are affiliated to ECO Platform, itself an international organisation. EPDs are created on the basis of the requirements of the ISO 14025 and EN 15804 standards. They are official documents which present, at the very least, the total sum of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by a product; in other words, its carbon footprint.

 ALUPROF has received EPDs for its products. The declarations have formed the basis for improving its environmental impact processes since 2019, as Aleksandra Baksik, Brand & Sustainable Development Manager at the company, explains:

An EPD can be likened to a certificate attesting to a product’s environmental performance. It makes it possible to compare various products in terms of their environmental impact and, at the same time, to choose those with the lowest. This is particularly significant in the case of the construction industry, because it’s a sector with a very high environmental impact.

 Benefits for companies and the environment

An increasing number of manufacturers operating in the construction industry have recently been setting out to obtain environmental declarations for the products they offer. This is largely on account of the fact that the regulations obliging companies to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes are becoming stricter. However, it is worth stressing that EPDs also translate into benefits to a company’s business and image. ALUPROF’s Aleksandra Basik expands on this:

EPDs are the basis for improving environmental impact processes and they send a clear signal to the construction industry ecosystem, emphasising that a company is acting sustainably and that not only is it committed to reducing its carbon footprint and consumption of raw materials, but also that it is involving its supply chain in those processes. Using construction materials that have received EPDs also wins developers additional points when they apply for BREEAM-, LEED- or DGNB-compliant sustainable building certification for their projects. These multi-criteria building evaluation and protection systems promote sustainable construction and a healthy working environment. Receiving these certificates adds to a development’s prestige and that, in turn, significantly increase its value.

He also notes that:

EPDs are standard on the commercial property sale and lease markets now. They provide potential investors with the reassurance that a facility stands out for its high energy and water efficiency, meaning low maintenance costs and low impact on people and the environment. EPDs also enable potential investors to make informed consumer decisions that lead to a reduction in a given building’s environmental impact.

 An industry leader with EPDs

ALUPROF is certainly worth mentioning among construction material manufacturers prioritising the question of environmental protection and responding, via their actions, to market needs and developers’ requirements. Through its optimisation of production processes, use of recycled aluminium and of green energy in the production process, the company has obtained Type III environmental declarations for its aluminium profiles and architectural systems, which are extruded on the basis of recycled ingots supplied by Grupa Kęty. The use of aluminium recyclate has made it possible for ALUPROF to achieve a significant reduction in its carbon dioxide emissions, which currently stand at 2.9 tCO2e per ton of aluminium, a result which is actually six times lower than the global standard for virgin aluminium ingots. Further confirmation of the company’s commitment to environmental activities is found in the fact that it holds Cradle to Cradle® certification, which is awarded to organisations blazing a trail in bringing products driving a closed-loop economy onto the market. ALUPROF’s ecological credentials also include its close collaboration with associations which belong to the World Green Building Council.

 Bożena Ryszka, Marketing and PR Director for ALUPROF S.A., emphasises that:

Promoting the idea of sustainable development is one of the key objectives included in the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance policy that our company has adopted. It provides for our even greater involvement in implementing measures relating to environmental protection, including our pursuit of climate neutrality, which we’re aiming to achieve by 2050. At the same time, it’s worth emphasising that, although ALUPROF has been undertaking ecological initiatives for many years, we have placed further emphasise on their importance by including them in the company’s strategic economic objectives for 2021-2025.

As she points out: Our commitment to pro-ecological action is also confirmed by the environmental product declarations which have been awarded to our systems and are extremely helpful to developers when they apply for green building certificates like BREEAM and LEED.