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Digitization of EPD: New Opportunities for Sustainable Construction

07. October 2022 | 3 min read

An Environmental Product Declaration, commonly abbreviated as EPD, contains standardized third-party verified data about the environmental impacts of a product across its entire lifecycle. Such data are especially crucial in green building construction, as they allow comparing and selecting the most sustainable products among several suppliers. However, the practicality of EPDs has been limited so far because the documents are lengthy and time-consuming to use. Pipelife Norway is currently working on digitizing the EPDs of its product portfolio. The new format will help make sustainable construction choices faster and easier.

A production specialist at Pipelife Norway's plant | Pipelife

Committing to Transparency and Sustainability

Pipelife Norway started adding Environmental Product Declarations to its product range already more than five years ago. At that time, EPD was seen as something new and peculiar — few specialists in the industry were aware of the advantages EPDs can offer and how to use them. However, the awareness kept growing over the next years, as information in the EPD allowed directly comparing the environmental impacts of various products with the same functionality.

Currently, Pipelife Norway has EPDs covering almost two-thirds of in-house manufactured infrastructure products. While obtaining EPDs for third-party manufactured products is more challenging, Pipelife Norway keeps working on providing transparent, independently verified information on its product portfolio to help clients make informed and environmentally responsible choices.

Digitizing EPD: A Prerequisite for Sustainability

Despite the progress achieved, the practical application of the EPD is still behind its popularity on paper. Often, the content remains unused due to the impracticality and lengthiness of the documents that contain EPD information.

“So far, EPDs have been provided in Portable Document Format. Considering that an EPD contains 317 properties, studying and using it to directly compare products across their entire lifecycle can be very time-consuming,” comments Knut Jøssang, Manager Digital Built Environment at Pipelife Norway.

In May 2022, a new international norm EN ISO 22057 was published, calling for using BIM standards to make EPDs entirely digitized and machine-readable. Embracing the new standard, Pipelife Norway has started a project with the goal of modernizing its EPD generation processes.

Infographic of the digitized EPD generation process | Pipelife

Digitized EPDs for Greener Construction

Previously, the information necessary to create an EPD was fed into an EPD generator, creating a joint EPD for a whole product group, for example, for PVC pressure pipes produced at Pipelife Norway’s Surnadal plant.

While such a document provided valuable information, using it was challenging for clients, as figures that refer to a particular product had to be processed manually.

This spring, Pipelife Norway transitioned to a new EDP generation process that allows sharing all 317 property values with every product of a particular product group. This means that all the necessary data can be automatically calculated for a specific product, according to its properties, for example, the product’s weight. The content is made available directly via API in the data templates that Pipelife Norway has developed for its product groups in accordance with EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387.

Digitization of all Pipelife Norway’s EPDs is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The fully digitized EPD information will allow customers to access product data in a machine-readable form. In turn, making environmentally conscious choices based on a verified factual basis will become simpler and more efficient.

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