FAQ

FAQ

General 2030 Challenge 2030 Challenge for Products Energy Climate
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The 2030 Challenge for Products

This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2030 Challenge for Products. It is a working document that will be updated by Architecture 2030 in consultation with leading professionals from around the world. All interested parties are encouraged to submit questions to forproducts@architecture2030.org. Please check back with the site for the most current language.



Q. Why building products?

A. The Building Sector is responsible for almost half of the energy consumption (49%) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (47%) in the U.S. While the majority of the energy consumption, and their associated emissions, come from building operations (such as heating, cooling, and lighting), the embodied energy and emissions of building materials and products are also becoming increasingly significant. Approximately 5.5% to 8% of the total annual U.S. energy consumption is from building products and construction. The raw resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction, usage, and end-of-life stages of building products consume significant amounts of energy, and each generate associated GHG emissions. When including all products for the built environment (furniture, movable equipment, appliances, etc.), the percentage is even greater.


Q. What is the metric for the 2030 Challenge for Products?

A. The metric for the 2030 Challenge for Products is kilogram carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO2-Equivalent) per functional unit depending on whether a given assessment is cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-gate (see What life stages should be included in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?).


Q. How do I adopt the 2030 Challenge for Products?

A. If you are a design professional, firm, or company working in the Building Sector (architects, designers, planners, interior designers, landscape architects, builders, and/or developers, etc.), Architecture 2030 encourages you to adopt the 2030 Challenge for Products and pledge to request third party expert verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and, where possible, Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), results from product manufacturers and specify low-carbon building products that meet the Challenge targets. Architecture 2030 has developed a Request for Information (RFI) letter that can be sent to product manufacturers, asking for embodied carbon content of their building products and information on the underlying LCA, PCR and/or EPD, and third-party verifier. Please contact forproducts@architecture2030.org or fill out the Design Professional Adoption Form to be listed as an adopter.

If you are a product manufacturer, Architecture 2030 does not certify products. We encourage you to adopt the 2030 Challenge for Products and pledge to conduct and publish third party expert verified LCAs and, where possible, EPDs, for your products and commit to reducing the carbon-equivalent footprint of your products to meet the Challenge targets. If you have a published LCA or EPD that shows the carbon-equivalent footprint of your product, please contact forproducts@architecture2030.org or fill out the Product Manufacturer Adoption Form to be listed as an adopter.

If you would like to support the 2030 Challenge for Products as an organization or individual, Architecture 2030 encourages you to do so by pledging to commit your resources to helping the Building Sector meet the Challenge targets. Please contact forproducts@architecture2030.org or fill out the Supporter Form to be listed as a supporter.

The Design Professional Adopter Form, Product Manufacturer Adoption Form, and Supporter Form are best viewed in either Adobe Acrobat Professional or Reader and have an automated “Submit” button that will use your mail server to return the form to forproducts@architecture2030.org.


Q. How does a product meet the 2030 Challenge for Products?

A. Architecture 2030 does not certify products. To meet the 2030 Challenge for Products, a product manufacturer should have completed an ISO-compliant Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) or, at minimum, a third party expert verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which calculates the carbon-equivalent footprint of a product and which has been verified (EPD) or peer-reviewed (LCA) by an expert or panel with knowledge of LCA methodology and experience in the relevant sector. The product manufacturer must also be committed to reducing the carbon-equivalent footprint of the product to meet the Challenge targets.

If a Program Operator has developed or adopted Product Category Rules (PCRs) for a product category, Architecture 2030 strongly recommends that the manufacturer conduct the assessment in accordance with the PCRs, thereby ensuring that all manufacturers within a given category are using the same rules with regard to data sources, functional unit definitions, cut-off rules, metrics and calculation procedures.

Once benchmarks are established (2013 target date), those products that achieve the relevant carbon-equivalent reduction from the average will be recognized as meeting the associated 2030 Challenge for Products target. In the interim, Architecture 2030 recommends that manufacturers actively engage in reducing their product’s carbon-equivalent footprint and work with their industry associations to develop generic EPDs for their product category.


Q. What are the product benchmarks for the 2030 Challenge for Products?

A. Architecture 2030 has designated the time period between 2011 and 2013 for the development of benchmarks and will be working with leading organizations and experts around the globe on this process. At this stage, it is anticipated that benchmarks will initially be developed on the basis of representative, Life Cycle Inventory data published in national databases, such as the U.S. LCI Database. Eventually, the benchmarks will be set by generic, or representative, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for each product category.

Architecture 2030 encourages product manufacturers to work with their industry associations to develop Product Category Rules (PCR) (if not already developed) and a generic EPD that can serve as an example and benchmark for their product. Once benchmarks have been established (2013 target date), Architecture 2030 will link to these benchmarks.


Q. Where can I find products that meet the 2030 Challenge for Products?

A. Architecture 2030 does not certify products. A list of manufacturers who have adopted the 2030 Challenge for Products will be posted on the Architecture 2030 website. These manufacturers have conducted and published a third party expert verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for at least one of their products, and have committed to reduce their carbon-equivalent footprints to meet the Challenge targets. For those products that have an EPD, you should contact the manufacturer to find out in which EPD Program their verified EPD is posted (which should also provide details with regard to the Product Category Rules (PCR) that were used). Once benchmarks are established (2013 target date), those products that achieve the relevant carbon-equivalent reduction will be recognized as meeting the associated 2030 Challenge for Products target.

Architecture 2030 has developed a Request for Information (RFI) letter that can be sent to product manufacturers, asking for embodied carbon content of their building products and information on the underlying LCA, PCR and/or EPD, and third-party verifier.


Q. What if there are no products within a product category that meet the required reduction target?

A. If no products within a category meet the required carbon-equivalent footprint reduction, then those products with the smallest carbon-equivalent footprints that meet the required product performance criteria should be specified. However, it is critical that products being compared are assessed following the same Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) procedures (e.g. boundaries, cut-off rules, impact measure characterization factors, etc.), as is the case when Product Category Rules (PCR) are used.


Q. What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for carbon?

A. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an evaluation of the ecological impact of a product over its expected life: including the life stages of raw material extraction, manufacture, transportation, product use, and/or disposal. A measure of Global Warming Potential (GWP) is one of several impacts measured under ISO LCA standards, including the ISO 21930 standard for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for building products. GWP is calculated in terms of the CO2 equivalent releases of greenhouses gases per product. LCAs can evaluate other impacts such as resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication. An LCA should, at a minimum, be compliant with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040 series of standards and be third party expert reviewed. If an LCA is conducted in accordance with Product Category Rules (PCR), the PCR should be clearly posted with the results of the LCA.


Q. What life stages should be considered in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?

A. Architecture 2030 recommends that all life stages, from raw material extraction (‘cradle’) to disposal (‘grave’) be included in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or Environmental Product Declaration. If, for certain product categories, this full cradle-to-grave assessment (also called a business-to-consumer assessment) is not feasible, then at a minimum the LCA and/or EPD should be a cradle-to-gate assessment (‘cradle’ to the ‘gate’ of the manufacturing plant, also called a business-to-business assessment). If life stages are omitted, a statement on omissions should be included in the EPD or LCA results. The life stages for a product category should be clearly defined in the Product Category Rules (PCR) and, if the PCR has not yet been written, the life stages included in an LCA should reflect any previous LCAs in that product category.


Q. What is a “product category”?

A. A “product category” is a group of building products that can fulfill equivalent functions (ISO 14025). For example, in the Master Format numbering system, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) lists products by broad category divisions such as doors and windows and then by more specific categories such as skylights. A Program Operator defines the various product categories.


Q. What are Product Category Rules (PCR)?

A. Product Category Rules (PCR) define how a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) should be conducted for a particular product category, as well as the specifications for the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), thereby standardizing the methodology and enabling products within that category to be compared to each other. By defining the specific rules for collecting, analyzing and reporting data on a given product type, PCRs ensure manufacturers of a level playing field and ensure purchasers of a reliable basis for comparing product performance data. A PCR document can also be used as the basis for a generic, or representative, EPD for a particular product category with benchmarks to be met to state that a given product has met the standard set forth in that representative EPD.

When developing an LCA, first search national and international libraries to find a relevant PCR. The most comprehensive PCR libraries available at this point in time can be found at the International EPD System and GEDNet, but there are also other Program Operators all of which are required under the standards to publish their PCRs and EPDs. The American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) is currently developing a PCR repository for the U.S. For an initial list of building product PCRs, listed by CSI Division, you can consult the compiled list of Building Product PCRs.

PCRs should comply with all relevant ISO standards, be produced by a Program Operator, include open consultation and input from all interested parties, be based on at least one LCA from the relevant product category, be harmonized across different EPD programs, and be reviewed by an expert or panel with knowledge of LCA methodology and experience in the relevant sector.

For reliable information on development and use of PCRs and EPDs, consult the following:
BuildingGreen 2030 Challenge for Products Information Hub
International Organization for Standardization
International Environmental Product Declaration System
Global Environmental Product Declarations Network
The Carbon Leadership Forum
Institute for Construction & the Environment (Germany)
The Green Standard Environmental Declaration Program (US)
The American Center for Life Cycle Assessment
Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
Life Cycle Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program


Q. What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

A. An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a type III environmental label declaring the environmental impacts of a product over its expected life. An EPD is the result of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) providing results for a set of pre-defined parameters and following pre-defined Product Category Rules (PCR). EPDs can be thought of as the environmental equivalent to nutrition labels for products, stating a product’s carbon-equivalent footprint and other environmental impacts such as resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication. An EPD should be independently, e.g. third party, verified and publicly published upon completion. An EPD and the respective PCR should, at a minimum, be compliant with the ISO 14025 and 21930 standards and be posted in their entirety.

If a Program Operator has developed, or adopted, a PCR for a product category, it is recommended that the manufacturer consider developing an EPD, or at least conducting the LCA in accordance with the PCR, thereby ensuring that all manufacturers from a given product category are using the same rules with regard to data sources, functional unit definitions, cut-off rules, metrics and calculation procedures. The benefit to manufacturers of issuing a verified EPD is that is meets requirements and expectations in all global markets and can lead to sizable cost savings.

For reliable information on development and use of PCRs and EPDs, consult the following:
BuildingGreen 2030 Challenge for Products Information Hub
International Organization for Standardization
International Environmental Product Declaration System
Institute for Construction & the Environment (Germany)
The Green Standard Environmental Declaration Program (US)
Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
Global Environmental Product Declarations Network
The Carbon Leadership Forum The American Center for Life Cycle Assessment
Life Cycle Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program


Q. What is an EPD Program Operator?

A. An EPD Program Operator is a body (or bodies) that is responsible for administrating a type III Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) program. A Program Operator is responsible for setting specific program instructions and establishing procedures for the development of Product Category Rules (PCRs) and EPDs, all in compliance with ISO standards. Program Operators define product categories, provide for open consultation, ensure the selection of competent independent verifiers, publish PCRs and EPDs, harmonize these documents between other programs, and maintain a transparent and available library of their PCRs and EPDs.


Q. What standards should be followed when calculating the carbon-equivalent footprint of a product?

A. To calculate a carbon-equivalent footprint of a product, Architecture 2030 recommends using either the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14000 standards or the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Scope III and Product Life Cycle standards for carbon footprints (currently under development by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development). The ISO 14000 series are the international standards for environmental management. In particular, the ISO 14040 series are for conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the ISO 14025 standard is for developing an LCA-based Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). In addition, the ISO 21930 standard deals with EPDs specifically for building products. The GHG Protocol's Scope III and Product Life Cycle standards are the leading international standards for calculating carbon-equivalent emissions for products. Consult with the ASTM E60 on Sustainability technical committee for other U.S. national standards currently under development.


Q. Why does the 2030 Challenge for Products only consider carbon?

A. The mission of Architecture 2030 is to achieve a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the Building Sector. If we do not reduce GHG emissions, we risk triggering dangerous climate change. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and/or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) measures additional environmental impacts such as resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication. Organizations that provide additional environmental information on building products include, among others: GreenSpec, Pharos, CSI GreenFormat, EcoHome Magazine, GreenWizard, and the U.S. Green Building Council.