UL Unveils Environmental Product Declaration Program

The new program will help architects and designers compare products’ environmental aspects.

UL Environment Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), will be launching an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Program in January 2011. UL Environment's EPD program will provide a comprehensive, globally recognized, and scientifically robust mechanism to consistently evaluate environmental claims on products.

Equivalent to a sustainability "nutrition label," an EPD is the documentation of an audited Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the environmental performance of a product, based on approved Product Category Rules (PCRs) in accordance with ISO 14025 guidelines. UL Environment's EPD program provides the structure and global scale necessary to support comparative cradle-to-grave assessments of products across multiple categories. Initial product categories that have expressed interest in this type of program include, but are not limited to, building products, lighting, and textiles.

As a result of the USGBC's LEED rating system, emphasis on green building has grown significantly over the past 10 years. A recent study conducted for UL Environment by sustainability consulting firm MindClick SGM revealed that a staggering 90 percent of architects and designers have researched, specified or purchased green products in the past year.

"With more than 300 certifications and eco-labels on the market, determining which products are truly green is next to impossible. Our EPD service will add credibility and alleviate market confusion by helping purchasers make informed decisions," said Stephen Wenc, president of UL Environment.

According to the research, almost 75 percent of architects and designers sited the comprehensive evaluation of a product's environmental impact as being absolutely essential in specifying a green product. "Nearly half of manufacturers who serve the contract, hospitality, and residential building markets are currently developing greener products. This EPD program will help to communicate product attributes holistically which ultimately provides a fuller picture of the product's environmental impact," said Wenc.

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