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The Product Category Rules (PCR) for unreinforced concrete — rules which provide a common methodology for concrete producers who want to issue Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for their products — has been launched.
The rules were developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) and published by the International EPD System.
An EPD provides relevant, verified and comparable information about the environmental impact of a product, based on life-cycle assessment, according to WBCSD.
By providing data in a standardized format, EPDs offer a basis for identifying products that have the least environmental impacts through a building’s life cycle. This meets the growing demand in the built environment sector, for information to support building life cycle assessments, according to WBCSD.
PCRs are the underlying rules used to develop an EPD. By providing these common rules, the CSI is offering a reference methodology to its members and the wider industry. PCRs are vital to the concept and practice of EPDs. They establish the assumptions, scope and functional units (e.g. kg or m3), meaning that manufacturers cannot alter them in order to favor their products.
EPDs can be compared only when they are based on the same PCR, ensuring that the methodology, data quality and indicators are consistent, and that all the relevant life cycle stages have been included.
The CSI PCR (www.wbcsdcement.org/pcr) is registered under the International EPD System (Environdec) for use by companies worldwide. It is based on the ISO standard for EPD (ISO 14025:2006) and complies with the European standard for construction products (EN 15804:2012). It also takes into account standard developments in other regions, particularly the US.
By using the same set of underlying standard across its operations globally, companies demonstrate enhanced credibility on product information. At the same time, the flexibility of the tool allows local adaptation to applicable laws and industry practice in different regions (e.g. treatment for allocation of slag), thus enhancing the applicability of the tool under different context, without jeopardizing the overall consistency of its methodological basis.
The CSI PCR, so far, focuses on the impacts of concrete production up to the point when it is delivered to the client, known as “cradle-to-gate,” for business-to-business purposes. However, the CSI is also investigating whether concrete’s contribution to the sustainability of a structure during its use and end-of-life can also be captured in a systematic way, allowing for “cradle-to-grave” EPDs to be developed.
The PCR for concrete is one of many CSI guidance frameworks that have been successful in improving sustainability across the industry worldwide, according to WBCSD.
The CSI is now building on this work with the development of a common calculation tool for its members to produce EPDs using common data sets, where no primary data is available.