Photo courtesy of Sustainable Design Update
The United States' first Environmental Product Declaration System will be unveiled this November at the Greenbuild Conference in Boston. The EPD is the brainchild of The Green Standard, a non-profit organization whose goal is to advance sustainable production and consumption. Like the Energy Star label for energy efficiency before it, if the EPD is properly implemented, it could give consumers valuable advice for objectively deciding whether a product or building is environmentally sound. It could become a major force on the burgeoning market of green goods. A Seal of Green Approval
The EPD will "become the gold standard for communicating various aspects of a product's performance, such as life cycle impacts, human health concerns, hazardous substances, and recycled content," according to the Green Standard. Products up for declaration will undergo a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment and serious scientific scrutiny.
It could also be a useful tool in staving off potential greenwashing by wanna-be green companies:
"The Green Standard EPD System gives institutional and individual purchasers independent, impartial assurance of a corporation's environmental claims, providing them with a straightforward tool they can trust as the information has been validated by a qualified third party and posted by an established NGO."
Green Investors Take Note
And, conveniently for investors or prospectors in environmental industries, all of the information gathered on a product or company will be condensed into a single report.
"The Gaia Product Profile provides members of the A & D [Architecture and Design] community with a long-awaited tool: a single document that encompasses diverse product performance information, including environmental, human health, mechanical, safety and other performance capabilities. The "Gaia" will provide specifiers and purchasers with a summary of all of the information in a full Environmental Product Declaration Report."
Time will tell whether the EPD evolves from an industry standard to a wide declaration that connects with a broader audience—it's certainly a useful concept, and it could have a positive impact on the green market in the near future.