Wood group supports Environmental Product DeclarationsVANCOUVER, BC--

The proliferation of eco-labels and resulting market confusion about the sustainability of competing building products has spurred the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA) to support of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

EPDs, commonly used in select European countries, compare cradle-to-grave environmental impacts assessments of a product or service to help architects, builders and consumers fully understand the implications of building products they specify and use. Results of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) feed EPDs to make a standardized comparison.

Dr. Jim Bowyer, director of responsible materials programs for Dovetail Partners and an expert on EPDs, said, “Environmental Product Declarations represent the industrial version of the nutrition label found on today’s cereal box. They allow for straightforward comparison of product attributes, but in an environmental sense.”

Among the areas compared in building product EPDs are raw material acquisition; energy use and efficiency; content of materials and chemical substances; emissions to the air, soil and water; and waste generation.

“As the design community and clients demand the most environmentally responsible solutions, science-based, holistic comparisons are more essential than ever,” said Marcy Wong, LEED AP certified principal with San Francisco firm Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects. “Life cycle analyses and EPDs will offer independent measurements that environmentally conscious architects, engineers and owners can trust.”

In late 2009, the WRCLA commissioned an independent, science-based LCA comparing its product to competitive, alternative non-wood building materials for residential decking and siding applications. The study by Canada’s FPInnovations-Forintek, compared a range of environmental impacts similar to those in EPDs. Cedar substantially outperformed its competitors in every category.

“We are very confident that Environmental Product Declarations, once put into wide use in North America, will arrive at the same conclusion, that Western Red Cedar represents the most authentic, truly green siding and decking choice for architects and consumers,” said Jack Draper, WRCLA managing director.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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