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New environmental reporting standards published for concrete

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World Cement,

A new version of the Product Category Rules (PCR) for concrete, the document used for developing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for concrete, was published this month by the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF). The new PCR, Version 1.1, takes the original PCR published in November 2012 and makes improvements to the document based on input from key experts in the field of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and experience gained during the yearlong period during which the original version was implemented. Both ASTM International and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) have adopted the PCR for use in their respective EPD programmes.

EPDs are third-party verified reports published by product manufacturers that provide information regarding the environmental performance of their products, including global warming potential, smog formation potential and ozone depletion potential. They are intended to assist specifiers, purchasers and users of products to compare environmental impacts of different products. EPDs are developed in accordance with strict international standards that include a transparent verification process. To produce an EPD, a company must perform a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on its product and report the results in an EPD. A PCR defines, among other things, the functional unit (product to be analysed), scope and boundaries of the LCA, and the environmental impacts to be reported in the EPD. Before an EPD can be published, it must be third-party reviewed and verified through an EPD Program Operator such as ASTM International or NRMCA.

Version 1.0 of the PCR for concrete, initiated in May 2011 by CLF, went through two public comment periods where more than 500 comments were received and addressed before being published in November 2012. Several EPDs were verified using the standard and several items were identified that could help improve the PCR. As a result, CLF convened a committee of experts to revise it. The most significant change was the expansion of required environmental impacts that must be reported in the EPD. Additionally, the scope of the document was expanded from North American applications to include all countries that use similar standards referenced in the PCR for evaluating and producing concrete. The PCR underwent a second critical review by a panel of LCA experts and was confirmed that it meets the requirements of all pertinent international standards.

The new PCR is published on the CLF website and details on verifying EPDs to the document are available at the ASTM and NRMCA websites, respectively.

Adapted from ASTM International press release by

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