While it’s well known that wood products offer a wide variety of environmental benefits – typically less embodied energy, lower air and water pollution, and a lighter carbon footprint than other commonly used building materials – it can often be a challenge to translate this information in a tangible way for customers looking to build green or earn points under a green building system evaluation. Fortunately, almost all principal green building rating systems now recognize environmental performance data based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which has encouraged development of environmental product declarations (EPDs), a standardized reporting tool used to convey the environmental footprint of building materials in simple terms.
Together with the Canadian Wood Council and California Redwood Association, the American Wood Council (AWC) has produced 12 third-party verified EPDs that describe the environmental impacts and manufacturing energy consumption for generic wood products, including softwood lumber, softwood plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), glued laminated timber (Glulam), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), wood I-Joists, redwood decking, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. AWC and UL Environment (ULE), the program operator and third-party verifier, also created transparency briefs to summarize the most critical data presented in the EPDs, with the intent of providing design and construction professionals a very quick way to identify environmental details for key products. The transparency briefs are often all that is required by green building rating systems to demonstrate conformance with the requirement.
The EPDs and transparency briefs are compliant with the relevant standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are available as free downloads at www.awc.org. They take into account everything from composition and environmental impacts to water and energy usage, along with other product information. It’s all in a standardized format to make it easier to digest and translate the environmental characteristics of the wood industry’s products and where they can earn points in green building codes and rating systems.
The booming green building industry, paired with evolving green rating systems and building codes that embrace a more systematic, multi-attribute assessment of building products, has resulted in an opportunity to strengthen the wood products market in North America. To have an informed conversation with developers, construction professionals and even homeowners, ensure you are up to speed on the latest changes that recognize the environmental benefits of wood. Keep available EPDs and transparency briefs on hand to help explain to customers how they can take advantage of your wood products for sustainable results.
Find the wood products industry’s EPDs at: http://www.awc.org/greenbuilding/epd