AEC Says EPD for Aluminum is Almost ReadySeptember 29th, 2016 by Trey Barrineau
The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) announced that its environmental product declaration (EPD) for aluminum could be unveiled this week. The news was revealed at the 2016 AEC Management Conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
According to the AEC, UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) has all the documentation and should sign off on the EPD before Friday.
EPDs are independently verified documents that fully describe the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. They include information on the impact of raw material acquisition, energy use, emissions, waste generation and other factors. In North America, EPDs are increasingly being requested to meet the requirements of the upcoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 4 Green Building Program and to meet the needs of other industries.
Additionally, the AEC wanted to get ahead of EPDs developed by other groups that could be unfavorable to the aluminum industry, said Lynn Brown of Consulting Collaborative, a member of the committee that worked on the EPD.
The Aluminum Association published an EPD in 2014, but that document is at the end of its useful life, Brown said.
“The data lacked granularity,” he said. “For example, it had no details on the impact of finishing and no details on the impact of thermal treatments.”
Brown said AEC received input from 11 member extruders at 30 separate facilities all over the U.S. and Canada.
“We had excellent coverage of the whole market,” he said. “The data covered about a third of North America’s output in 2015. There were more than 300 discrete data points that participants could have submitted.”
The EPD will cover both conventional extrusions and thermally improved ones, which are often preferred in building applications. Additionally, data will be provided for both mill-finish extrusions and painted or anodized products.
Committee member Nuno de Silva of Thinkstep said EPDs will only become more important to the industry as they replace competing environmental certifications.
“The battle has been between proprietary certifications vs, transparency and level playing fields,” he said. “Transparency is winning. Over time, the EPD logic will take market share from other certifications.”
Brown said architects are also big drivers of EPD adoption.
“A lot of firms have said ‘look, if you don’t have EPDs, we won’t keep your material in our libraries,’” he said. “At the end of the day, the outputs measured by an EPD represent costs.”