During our August Live Event, Edward Mazria (founder of Architecture 2030) and Francesca Desmarais (Director of the 2030 Challenge for Products) shared with us details on their program and process during the "2030 Challenge for Products: Evaluating the Carbon Footprint of Building Products" webinar (available OnDemand in the GreenExpo365 Auditorium. Here are some extra questions & answers that we didn't have time to discuss in the session:
Christopher: How does your early work with Passive Solar Design fit within the strategy of the 2030 Challenge?
Architecture 2030: For more information on how Edward Mazria's past work relates to the current work of Architecture 2030, I recommend EcoHome Magazine’s Editor in Chief Rick Schwolsky excellent article, Valiant Journey, published in EcoHome Magazine in 2009.
Since buildings are the major source of global demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG), reducing their energy consumption and GHG emissions on a global scale is crucial to addressing our ongoing energy and climate problems. The 2030 Challenge was issued by Architecture 2030 as a call to action asking the global architecture and building community to understand their power to solve these problems, largely through their design and planning expertise, and to take action. Passive heating is a key strategy to lower the consumption of fossil fuel energy. The 2030 Challenge for Products will bring additional attention to the life-cycle of building products – from raw resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction, usage, and end-of-life stages of building products, – every stage of which currently generates significant GHG emissions.
Lamar: how can you amortize embodied energy? Isn't it a sunk cost?
Architecture 2030: A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) does not evaluate the cost of the embodied energy. It evaluates the amount of energy consumed by the product and, for the 2030 Challenge for Products, the amount of green house gas (GHG) emissions that are released as by-products. Life cycle accounting can take into considerations the issues of cost, however, this is not part of the 2030 Challenge for Products. The goal of the 2030 Challenge for Products is to push market innovation to develop building products at an equivalent price level that have fewer negative, environmental impacts.
Marina: The durability of the materials is involved on this operation of the building?
Architecture 2030: In a full cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the "use" phase of the product's life would be considered. The durability of the product would be evaluated at this "use" phase of the product's life cycle and would influence the number of times the product had to be replaced and/or maintained. More durable products would most likely have a smaller impact, and release fewer green house gas (GHG) emissions during the "use" phase of the product.
Ml Robles: Show an example of comparing products, please
Architecture 2030: The display of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) may vary from product to product based on the organizations that developed the information. Before comparing data, it is key to ensure that the same processes were followed. This can either be achieved if the same Product Category Rules (PCR) were used, or if the processes outlined in the report documents are the same. If the processes were the same, then you will need the product's embodied carbon footprint and the unit of measurement. Provided the unit of measurement are the same (ensuring again that the underlying processes were the same), then that product with the lowest embodied carbon footprint has a smaller climate impact. It is critical that the LCAs and/or EPDs were third-party verified. The verification report, the LCA report, the PCR, and the EPD report all contain additional information on the process and the environmental performance of the products. For additional information on how to generally use an EPD to compare products see this article.
Junyoung: what was PCR again?
Architecture 2030: PCR stands for Product Category Rules. Product Category Rules (PCR) define how a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) should be conducted for a particular product category, as well as the specifications for the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), thereby standardizing the methodology and enabling products within that category to be compared to each other. By defining the specific rules for collecting, analyzing and reporting data on a given product type, PCRs ensure manufacturers of a level playing field and ensure purchasers of a reliable basis for comparing product performance data. A PCR document can also be used as the basis for a generic, or representative, EPD for a particular product category with benchmarks to be met to state that a given product has met the standard set forth in that representative EPD. For more information please visit the PCR section of our updated 2030 Challenge for Products FAQ page here.
Steven: Who is evaluating PCR for concrete?
Architecture 2030: The Product Category Rules (PCR) for concrete is being developed by the Carbon Leadership Forum. The website for this effort is available here and, according to the schedule, it will be available for public review within the next few months. The final PCR will be peer-reviewed and then approved and registered by various EPD Program Operators.
David: Does EBN or Greenspec have list of products with LCA/EPD info already
Architecture 2030: Greenspec does not currently have a list of products with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) information. A few of the GreenSpec products might have LCA/EPD information, however, you would have to search the database and possibly contact the manufacturers directly. The goal of the 2030 Challenge for Products is to increase the number of building products that have LCA/EPD information and make this verified, scientifically-based, and transparent data available to consumers.
Roderick: What about all the extra stuff: furnishing, carpet, pots and pans, etc?
Architecture 2030: The 2030 Challenge for Products addresses all products that can be specified as part of a building project, including furnishings and carpet. In fact, U.S. EPDs already exist for carpet and internationally furnishings and carpet are two product categories with some of the most EPDs. For more information on EPDs, and the types of products they cover, visit the EPD section of Architecture 2030's updated 2030 Challenge for Products FAQ page.
Pam: How do you see this initiative affecting the development of new "green" products given the cost of LCA/EPD's?
Architecture 2030: The cost of an LCA and/or an EPD is the same for new products and existing products. Raising awareness on the issue of embodied carbon will lead manufacturers of new products to consider their climate impacts from the beginning of the development of the product.
Bruce: Is there currently a database of products /manufacturers with LCAs and or EPDs and their results for specifiers anywhere? Does BEES still have any relevance in determining LCA?
Architecture 2030: The total number of products with an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) varies by country largely due to governmental requirements in other countries. EPDs are not available for every product and we hope to change that by encouraging the demand for this level of transparency from product manufacturers. For more information on EPD's visit the EPD section of Architecture 2030's updated 2030 Challenge for Products FAQ page.
There is not currently a database of products/manufacturers with LCA and/or EPD information. As more product manufacturers develop this information it is anticipated that it will be consolidated and made available through various databases such as GreenSpec, Pharos, and GreenWizard.
BEES is a great resource for getting an idea of the big picture, however, their criteria do not follow the same standards as EPDs so the data offered there is not always comparable.
Janice: How would one get started in evaluation-through your site?
Architecture 2030: On the Architecture 2030 website you can adopt or support the 2030 Challenge for Products and find additional information and resources through the updated 2030 Challenge for Products FAQ page.
The 2030 Challenge for Products Information Hub, hosted by BuildingGreen and currently set for launch by this September, is the result of our partnership with BuildingGreen and the Healthy Building Network. This website will serve as a clearinghouse of information from our organizations as we work together to foster adoption and implementation of the 2030 Challenge for Products and will contain links to information and resources on embodied carbon, standards, PCRs, LCA experts, Program Operators, and tools.
Grazyna: How to address cost of the evaluation for the small and local manufacturers who we would like to support?
Architecture 2030: Developing a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is an expensive process. Smaller companies, however, are making this commitment along side larger companies, and solidifying their market leadership and commitment to transparency. While the transportation of materials and products is a key life cycle impact, it is only one impact. Ultimately, the total embodied carbon footprint of the product will be influenced by the green house gas (GHG) emissions released during other phases of the product's life cycle, and this varies by product. Companies at any scale can develop innovative process to lower the embodied carbon of their product and push the market towards low-carbon products.
As more companies across the board commit to developing LCA and/or EPD information, the cost of these assessments and verifications will go down. Larger companies, that produce multiple types of products, can certainly drive this process more quickly through economies of scale, but smaller companies are just as important and can often lead the market by establishing first mover recognition.
Gary: How can one be sure the 3rd Party Certifier is reputable?
Architecture 2030: A Program Operator establishes the appropriate verification procedure, in accordance with ISO 14025, and ensures that the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) complies with these instructions. The Program Operator also ensures that any verifier meets the requirements as set out in ISO 14025: the verifier should be independent and not involved in the development of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or EPD, have knowledge of the product, the product category, the relevant sector, the production process, the standards, EPDs, the regulatory framework, the particular EPD program, and have LCA expertise. ISO 14025 also requires that any verifier produce a report of the verification which be made available on request.
David: Is there effort to make EPD's mandatory here?
Architecture 2030: The European Union and Asia are leading this effort due to strong government directives recommending, and in come cases requiring, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Here in the United States, Executive Order 13514 was issued in 2009 and requires federal government agencies to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and leverage federal purchasing power to promote sustainable materials, technologies, products, and services. To meet the order's requirements, government agencies have begun to use EPDs.
The awareness and involvement of those who specify products is required to transform the marketplace and to encourage manufacturers to voluntarily perform Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and/or EPDs. If you specify products, adopting the 2030 Challenge for Products entails that you begin asking for the transparency and environmental information provided by an LCA and/or EPD.
Chris: I would like to point out that a building's finishes are often replaced several times during the 50-year life of the building so I wonder if you've considered that when you include remodeling, the impact of the building products may be higher than estimated...
Architecture 2030: Depending on the scope of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the replacement of the building's finishes might already be included in the analysis. If the LCA is cradle-to-grave it will consider the "use" phases of the product and take into consideration the green house gas (GHG) emissions released as the product is maintained or replaced over the life of the building.
Lamar: Are you factoring in the availability of resources in LCA?
Architecture 2030: A common environmental impact of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a measure of the depletion of natural resources, i.e. by how much certain natural resources are diminished by the production of that product. The inclusion of this environmental impact depends on whether it is required in the underlying Product Category Rules (PCR).
Adam: Who will spearhead and fund the life cycle inventory data collection?
Architecture 2030: The main Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database in the U.S. is managed by NREL and can be accessed at www.nrel.gov/lci. A roadmap, outlining the plan to achieve the goals of the U.S. LCI database is also available on this page. Additional public and private databases are also working towards gathering LCI data.
David: So the basic way for us to help is to push for all manufacturers to take part with use of your RFI? We are really years from having this info available broadly, right?
Architecture 2030: Since the use of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and/or Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) is still fairly small, the first step of the 2030 Challenge for Products is to increase awareness around the issues and to increase the number of products that have such information. The Request for Information (RFI) that Architecture 2030 is developing is key to this first step. The availability of embodied carbon information will differ by product category as some industries move more quickly to declaring embodied carbon than others. If all industries begin moving in this direction today, benchmarks for the 2030 Challenge for Products can be available by the target date of 2013.
Carlo: Your presentation is very interesting, thank you very much. Is it possible to download the slides, please?
Architecture 2030: Thank you for participating in the webinar and for your great feedback. The slides are not available to download, but the on-demand version of this 2030 Challenge for Products presentation is available on the GreenExpo365.com website at this link (login required). If you have additional questions regarding the 2030 Challenge for Products, don't hesitate to check out Architecture 2030's updated 2030 Challenge for Products FAQ page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.