Updated EPD Standard: EN 15804+A2

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are Type III environmental declarations, according to ISO 14025 (2006). They are a type of life cycle assessment conducted using a defined set of Product Category Rules (PCR) that define how life cycle impact data is collected, validated, and reported. EN 15804 defines the product category rules for EPDs of building and construction products.

In 2019, a new version of EN 15804 was introduced: EN 15804 + A2.

In 2022, the +A2 standard became mandatory for all new EPDs.

In this article, we highlight the updates in EN 15804 + A2.

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What’s new?

Several things have changed under the +A2 version, including:

1) More Modules Reported

Previously only module A was mandatory for reporting (with one exception), but under the +A2 version, reporting of end-of-life impacts in modules C1-C4 and end-of-life benefits in module D is now mandatory (with minor exceptions).

2) More Indicators Must be Reported

Under the previous (+A1) version of EN 15804, there were 7 reportable environmental impact categories plus an additional 17 reporting categories covering resource use, waste generation and output flows.

Under EN 15804 +A2 there are 13 mandatory environmental impact categories reportable, plus 6 optional reporting categories related to human health and land use. The differences are summarised in Table 1, below.

Table 1. Reporting Category Comparison for +A1 and +A2 versions of EN15804

 

EN15804 +A1

EN15804 +A2

Environmental Impact Categories

Mandatory Indicators

Global Warming Potential

Global Warming Potential – Total

Ozone Depletion

Global Warming Potential – Fossil

Photochemical Ozone Formation

Global Warming Potential – Biogenic

Acidification

Global Warming Potential – Land Use and Land Use Change

Eutrophication

Ozone Depletion

Abiotic Resource Depletion (Elements)

Acidification

Abiotic Resource Depletion (Fossil Fuels)

Eutrophication – Aquatic Freshwater

Resource Use Indicators Eutrophication – Aquatic Marine
PERE Eutrophication – Terrestrial
PERM Photochemical Ozone Formation
PERT Abiotic Resource Depletion
(Minerals and Metals)
PENRE Abiotic Resource Depletion (Fossil Fuels)
PENRM Water Use
PENRT Optional Reporting Categories
SM Particulate Matter Emissions
RSF Ionizing Radiation, Human Health
NRSF Eco-Toxicity
FW Human Toxicity, Cancer Effects
HWD Human Toxicity, Non-Cancer Effects
NHWD Land Use Related Impacts/Soil Quality
RWD  
CRU  
MFR  
MER  
EEE  
EET  

3) Notable changes include:

  1. Global Warming Potential (GWP) is now split into 3 categories:
  • GWP Fossil
  • GWP Biogenic
  • GWP Land Use and Land Use Change.

GWP Total is the sum of these 3 GWP categories.

  1. Eutrophication (EP) is also split into 3 categories:
  • Eutrophication Aquatic Freshwater
  • Eutrophication Aquatic Marine
  • Eutrophication Terrestrial.

4) New units for some indicators

Along with the changes to the reporting indicators, some indicators have also changed the units of reporting. This change has been made to better align EPDs with the European Commission’s new ‘Product Environmental Footprint’ (PEF) methodology/standard. The changes are summarised in Table 2, below.

Table 2. Category Reporting Units Changes from +A1 to +A2
Indicator EN15804 +A1 Units EN15804 +A2 Units

Photochemical Ozone Formation

kg C2H4e

kg NMVOCe

Eutrophication

kg PO43-e

 

Eutrophication – Aquatic Freshwater

 

kg PO4e

Eutrophication – Aquatic Marine

 

kg Ne

Eutrophication – Terrestrial

 

Mol Ne

Acidification

kg SO2e

Mol H+e

5) Biogenic Carbon Reporting

EN15804+A2 is putting more emphasis on reporting of biogenic carbon. Under the new version of the standard biogenic carbon in both the product, and its packaging must be reported separately.

Additionally, long-term storage of biogenic carbon is not permitted under EN15804+A2. All biogenic carbon sequestered in modules A1-A3 must be considered as emitted (or transferred to nature) in module C. Thus any carbon sequestering, bio-based materials are considered to have net zero biogenic carbon over their life cycle.

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What does this mean?

The changes in the PCRs, the new reporting categories, and the changed reporting units mean that EPDs created under the +A1 standard are not generally comparable to EPDs created under the +A2 standard. One exception is GWP-GHG, which under PCR 2019:14 (used for EN15804 +A2) is the same GWP indicator used in EN15804 +A1 (almost, the difference is that characteristics factors are from IPCC 2013 instead pf IPCC 2007) .

For whole building LCAs – depending on the purpose of the study – it may not be advisable to include EPDs to both the +A1 standard and +A2 standard in the same assessment.

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How is eTool dealing with this?

First of all, eTool will allow EPDs created according to both the +A1 standard and +A2 standard to be entered into the EPD library. The additional GWP indicators have been available in eTool for some time, and the other indicators are to be added. Indicators that have changed reporting units will appear twice.

New LCI datasets will include all of the +A2 reporting categories and units. The +A1 reporting categories (and units) will remain available for at least as long as +A1 EPDs are still valid (up to 5 years from the end of 2022 when the +A2 standard became mandatory).

Functionally, +A1 and +A2 EPDs can be added into any building or infrastructure LCA in eTool.

It is important to note that the update to the +A2 indicators (other than GWP) is still in the pipeline. We currently have no ETA on delivery yet, however, it is a priority in our roadmap. An updated EPD upload sheet will also be made available when the new indicators/units are added. In addition, converting the units for the affected indicators is not recommended at this stage as the results may not be accurate. This is because the characterisation methodology has changed, therefore, there is not a direct relationship between the old and the new units.

As far as we are aware, +A2 EPDs are still being published with the +A1 indicators, so that eTool users should be able to use the +A1 indicators for modelling purposes. If that is not the case, a proxy could be used for the missing +A2 indicators. For example, the eTool Default LCI material is one of the best options. Another EPD material from the same supplier may also be used.

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What if my LCA includes EPDs to both the +A1 and +A2 standards?

As noted under ‘what does this mean?’, including both +A1 and +A2 EPDs in the same study can mean those materials are not directly comparable. If one intention of your study is to specifically assess environmental impact in one of the categories affected by the new +A2 standard, then mixing of +A1 and +A2 EPDs is not advisable. If your intent is to only assess GWP, or if minor changes in some indicators is not likely to materially affect the outcome of your study then eTool suggests using a proxy material or product to fill the data gaps. Select the closest material or product in the default database to use as a proxy, or (if no appropriate material exists) use an EPD from a very similar material or product. Add in impacts for at least the core indicators under the +A1 standard and the mandatory indicators under the +A2 standard.

eTool plans to introduce a feature to automate using a similar material to act as a proxy for any missing indicators. The idea is that the software would automatically detect whether there are any data gaps for certain indicators and/or modules and allow software users to select a proxy material (or EPD) to fill those gaps. For now this process will need to be done manually.

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What is the ISC doing about this?

Because life cycle impacts are aggregated into Enviropoints (through normalisation and weighting) in the ISC scheme, the change in indicators, PCRs and units has significant implications. Normalisation factors for +A1 indicators are not appropriate for +A2 indicators. ISC is still determining the best way to incorporate EN15804 +A2 EPDs under the Mat-1 and RSO-6 credits. We expect them to release interim guidance on this soon.

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What are the GBCA (Green Star) doing about this?

The GBCA have not published any guidance on how they intend to handle +A2 EPDs under the Green Star Upfront Carbon or LCA credits. Currently +A2 EPDs cannot be used in Green Star assessments. The GBCA provided this feedback to us: “The GBCA will review the reporting of the Life Cycle Assessment impact categories and units for future versions of the tools in alignment with the transition phase of the standard.”.

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