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NRMCA certifies industry’s first Environmental Product Declaration for concrete

Central_ConcreteThe first National Ready Mixed Concrete Association-certified Environmental Product Declaration covers nearly 1,500 concrete mixes produced at eight San Francisco Bay Area plants owned and operated by Central Concrete Supply Inc.

The San Jose, Calif., producer is the first North American concrete company to receive an EPD verified in accordance with (International Organization for Standardization) ISO 14025 [Environmental labels and declarations — Type III environmental declarations — Principles and procedures] and ISO 21930 [Sustainability in building construction — Environmental declaration of building products]. Central Concrete’s declaration was verified and certified under the NRMCA EPD Program, established in 2012 to enable members to meet new disclosure requirements in the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products and forthcoming LEED v4.

In addition to the NRMCA EPD milestone, Central Concrete also notes that it is the first U.S. company in any industry to prepare EPDs at the individual product level versus an EPD for classes of products. The latter approach diminishes the value of the EPD, because specific product performance characteristics are only matched to general environmental impacts within a category. Central's approach is based on innovations developed by Climate Earth, a Berkeley, Calif., provider of systems, data and services for sustainable management; it allowed an EPD Program Operator like NRMCA to verify the entire library of 1,479 mix designs.

“Owners and developers on the West Coast are demanding greener buildings. With carbon dioxide emissions of portland cement being a contributor to the nation’s carbon footprint, we recognize the importance of making the environmental impact of our products both visible and comparable. Environmental measures are increasingly becoming key performance indicators, just as compressive strength of concrete is today,” affirms Central Concrete General Manager Jeff Davis.

“Think of an EPD as a nutrition label for a product; but instead of information such as calories, fat content and carbohydrates, an EPD provides information about environmental impacts such as global warming potential, smog formation, energy use and water use,” states NRMCA Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development Lionel Lemay.

EPDs detail products’ global warming, smog formation and ozone depletion potential, he adds. They are intended to assist specifiers, purchasers and users of products to compare environmental impacts of different products. EPDs are developed in accordance with strict international standards that include a transparent verification process.

“Our expertise in life cycle analysis and enterprise systems has allowed us to cost effectively meet the critical industry need for having an EPD for every mix. It also enabled us to combine environmental data with traditional mix performance data into an on-line system that allows Central’s customers to see and consider environmental performance as an easy and natural part of the mix procurement process,” states Climate Earth CEO Chris Erickson.