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Forum revises EPD-underpinning Product Category Rules for Concrete

Sources: ASTM International, West Conshohocken, Pa.; CP staff

The University of Washington/College of the Built Environments-hosted Carbon Leadership Forum has released a new version of the Product Category Rules (PCR) for concrete, the key document used for Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). Version 1.1 improves on the original PCR, published in November 2012, with new input from key experts in the field of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The most significant changes from the charter version is the expansion of a) required environmental impacts that must be reported in the EPD; and, b) document scope from North American applications to include all countries that use similar standards referenced in the PCR for evaluating and producing concrete.

EPDs are third-party verified reports published by suppliers and manufacturers that provide information regarding the environmental performance of their materials and products, including their links to potential global warming, smog formation and ozone depletion. They are intended to assist construction project specifiers, purchasers and owners in comparing environmental impacts of different materials and products. EPDs are developed in accordance with strict international standards that include a transparent verification process. To prepare a declaration, a company must perform a comprehensive LCA on its material or product and report the results in a formal EPD. A PCR defines the functional unit (product to be analyzed), scope and boundaries of the LCA, and the environmental impacts to be reported in the EPD. Before an EPD can be published, it must be third-party reviewed and verified through an EPD Program Operator such as ASTM International or the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, both of which have adopted the PCR for Concrete Version 1.1 in their declaration programs.

Version 1.0 was initiated in May 2011 by Carbon Leadership Forum, whose members include ready mixed producers and concrete contractors, plus NRMCA and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute staff. It went through two public comment periods where 500-plus comments were received and addressed leading up to November 2012. Several EPDs were verified using the standard and several items identified that could help improve the PCR. As a result, Forum members convened a committee of experts for revisions. The PCR underwent a second critical review by a panel of LCA experts and was confirmed as meeting requirements of all pertinent international standards.