Using EPDs in eTool

Wondering how to use EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) in eTool?

The software allows users to create new EPDs in eTool, add EPD to designs, compare EPD with the materials in the inventory, make comparison between different EPDs and also understand how specific products correlate with the whole project performance.

The video tutorial below provides a general idea on how to use EPDs in eTool. For more advanced features, please refer to the rest of the post below.


Jump to the following sections in this post:

Create New EPDs with Excel Templates

EPD Functionality Improvement includes the ability to import impacts from excel template and copy and paste to and from excel.

Do download a copy of the excel template, click into the ‘Impacts‘ tab of the new EPD you just created and then click on the ‘Download Excel‘ button to download a copy of the blank spreadsheet (if it’s a brand new EPD. After you’ve filled out the spreadsheet from the data in the EPD, you can upload the spreadsheet back into your new EPD by clicking on the ‘Import Excel‘ button.

Don’t forget to fill out the details tab with all information required to ensure usability and transparency of product information, and correct application in whole project LCA studies.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

How to Add An EPD Into Your Design

Back in your Design, just click on the green ‘+Add EPD‘ button on the right side of the page. Search of your EPD and simply add it to your Design. After you’ve added your EPDs, you can find them in your Design by clicking on the ‘EPDs‘ tab on the green menu bar on the left side.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Missing Impacts in EPDs: What You Need to Know

EPDs are inherently difficult at the moment to incorporate robustly into a whole building LCA as scopes and indicators won´t always match. Be wary when adding EPDs to designs as they often have gaps in the life cycle modules (eg, no end of life impacts).

Impact results displayed in eTool for materials are a sum of different impact stages:

  • Product (A1-A3, or cradle to gate);
  • Transportation of materials to site (A4);
  • End of life impact related to deconstruction/demolition (C1), transport of waste off site (C2), waste processing (C3) and disposal (C4);
  • Benefits and Loads Beyond The System Boundary related to closed loop recycling (D2), open loop recycling (D3), materials energy recovery (D4) or direct reuse D5).

The materials input in eTool will have different variables the user can select to customise other stages beyond Materials A1-A3. Disposal or recovery method as well as transportation mode and distance can be edited by the user. When defining specific material’s parameters like steel for example, the software will allow users to input recycled content rate, end of life recycling rate and transportation related to end of life closed loop recycling.

When a specific product has a significant impact in the whole building LCA, it’s crucial to not “cherry pick” the positives without considering the negatives. For example, recycling carpet at the end of life is on the surface a great thing, however, if the plant is on the other side of the country and the old carpet is carried there on the truck, a net positive outcome will be questionable. The user can model end-of-life transport distance in eTool to make the right assumptions and draw fair conclusions. We cover how you can do that further below.

An EPD will rarely include end-of-life impacts because the manufacturer has little control over how its material gets used and what end-of-life assumption should be applied. Some products can be designed to be more easily recycled but often it’s more about how the design and demolition teams manage it.

Alternatively, to add an EPD into eTool and report against every module and indicator in your LCA scope you need to fill in the gaps. The EPD will inform stages A1-A3 data and the user would take the results for each missing module and indicator from the eTool data and add this to the EPD. This process can be very laborious and needs to be validated by eTool first so please get in touch and we will assist you.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Add Missing Impacts By Using Templates

In light of the issues with EPDs outlined above, you may add the missing impacts to the EPDs by creating a custom template that contains the EPD. There are already a few such templates in our template library which you can search for by typing in ‘EPD’ in the search field.

If you’re unable to find the template you require, you can create your own custom template. We recommend cloning an existing template that is most similar to the material you’re trying to refine with the EPD so that you won’t have to do too much guesswork with regards to the missing inputs (i.e. installation/assembly impacts). After you’ve cloned the template (and rename appropriately), click on ‘Add EPD’ to add the EPD into the template.

An EPD is basically the material input for a particular product you have specified. Therefore, when you add an EPD into a cloned existing template, your intention is to replace the generic material inputs in the template with the EPD inputs for that material/product. Therefore, you will need to delete the associated generic material inputs that are in the template to avoid double counting them after you’ve added the EPD.

Here is a link to an example EPD template: Paint – Internal Wall Finish, Dulux EPD, 10 years, missing transport (m2)

For this example, the EPD already accounts for the paint itself, painting assembly & consumables (tins &rollers) and end-of-life impacts. Therefore the following generic inputs under the ‘Internal Finishes’ category in the template are not required and should be deleted to avoid double counting.

After you add your EPD, you can see the EPD impacts as a separate figure under these categories under ‘EPDs’ as per image below. The original material impacts which were in the image above has been deleted.

You can also add any other missing inputs which will be covered in the next section.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Add Missing Material Transportation Impacts

Use ‘Zero Impact Material’ 

If you wish to add only the transportation impacts for the EPD product to site, may use the ‘zero impact material’ method which is fairly quick to do but less accurate. Note that this is only available for templates/projects using the eTool Default LCI source.

  1. In your template, navigate to the correct category and add an element.

  2. Select the ‘Zero Impact Product/Material’ option under Material (only available for eTool Default LCI sources).
  3. Continue with filling out the rest of the material details.
  4. After clicking ‘Save’ the zero impact element you’ve added will have no material impact (which is provided by the EPD) and will only have the transport impact as per the specifications you’ve entered (including any recurring transport impacts if applicable).
Use ‘Negative’ Material 

(Note: Method not rececommended when report on Upfront Carbon emission in Green Star Buildings by using the Green Star Buildings LCA Points Calculator. Note that the Calculator zeros out all negative entries)

If you like to have more control over your results and want to more accurately remove the default material impacts from the template, you can use the ‘negative’ material method below:

  1. Navigate to the category where your default material is in. In this example, the concrete is in the Substructure. Note the current GWP impacts under the ‘Products’ category (highlighted).
  2. Next, click ‘+Add Substructure‘ to add exactly the same material as the original which in this case is Concrete | Unreinforced | Portland Cement Blend | 40 MPa material.
  3. In the material pop-up window, make sure that you enter the negative amount of the quantity you want to offset (pay attention that the units are correct as well) and that the inputs for ‘Lost or Damaged in Transport’ is changed to be the same as the default material. The ‘Disposal or Recovery Method’ & ‘New Product Transport to Site’ inputs (as highlighted below) need to be set to zero to ensure that only A1-A3 material impacts are offset.
  4. Click ‘Save’ to add the new material to the category.
  5. Back in the category summary view, you’ll now see that only the GWP for Products and Transport (A1-A4) has been affected while all other impacts have remained the same.
  6. You can also confirm this by running a custom table in the Analysis Tab. Note that the inputs under A4 are only for the impact of any products lost or damaged in transport.
  7. Now that you have removed the GWP impact of the default material, the EPD that you now add to the template will fill in the gap for the material impacts.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Update Template Description to Reflect the Changes You’ve Made

After you’ve change all the changes you need to the template. Please don’t forget to update the template details/description to reflect the changes you’ve made and explain your assumptions. This is good practice to ensure that you have a record of what you’ve done to the template, a quick reference to know what’s in the EPD, your assumptions and any extra notes.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Validating Your EPDs

If you wish to get your EPD validated, you must add it to a custom template as outlined above. You will also ideally need to include the missing impacts that the EPD may not cover in the custom template as outlined in the sections above.

Once you’re satisfied that your EPD template is complete, you may consider submiting it for Validation. Please submit a Support Request if you would like to get your EPD template validated.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Sharing EPDs in eTool with Other Users

If you wish to only share your EPD within your organisation, add the EPD into a custom template and then assign the template to an organisation.

Note that the EPD itself will only be editable by the original EPD creator, however the template will be editable by the Organisation Admin.

If you wish to make your EPD public and available to the wider eTool community, please submit a Support Request.

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Upgrading EPD Features

We are aware that there is room for improvement in our EPD functions. If you wish to see these features upgraded, please vote on them in the Feature Requests page of the support site or submit your own proposal! Below are a couple of links to the existing ones relating to EPDs:

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Other Info

You can also find EPDs from different program operators for example:

↑Jump back to contents ↑

Related Links:
Can materials manufacturers load their products into eTool?
How does eTool calculate the burdens and benefits associated with recycling?
How Closed Loop Recycling works in EN15978
Who should benefit from recycling in construction product EPD?

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.