CAB’s Average Product EPD

Nigel Headford – CAB Chief Executive

An EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) is designed to inform a Specifier about a product’s environmental and human health impact during its life cycle and follows recognised standards, known as the ‘core rules’, in BS EN 15804+A2. Based on a product’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the aim of an EPD is to inform the Specifier about a product’s environmental impact in a standardised and transparent format for specified life cycle stages and a given performance. Verified by an independent expert, an EPD is based on a specific set of Product Category Rules (PCR), helping to allow for different products to be evaluated in the context of the building under assessment. Completed and verified EPDs to BS EN 15804+A2 are valid for five years from the date of issue.

Whilst it is possible to develop EPDs for any type of product or service, it is the Construction Sector that has one of the most advanced EPD systems. EPD’s can either be based on a company’s ʻspecific product’ or combined similar products to offer an ‘average product’ EPD from a range of suppliers, such as provided by a Membership Association like the Council for Aluminium in Building.

An EPD is a standardised document produced from a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). An LCA is defined as a ‘systematic analysis of the potential environmental impacts of a product or service during its life cycle’. A company’s ʻspecific product’ or ‘average product’ LCA carries sensitive product data which companies would not want to be made public. The resulting standardised and independently verified EPD produced from the LCA does not divulge this sensitive information, so an EPD is safe to distribute to promote a product’s environmental performance.

The LCA is a detailed analysis of the potential environmental impacts for the stated life cycle stages of the product, which includes production, distribution, installation, use, maintenance, end-of-life and reuse and recycling phases. For a window, this will include the upstream impact of production, such as the aluminium profile and hardware manufacture, as well as downstream stages, such as recycling. If the ‘core rules’ according to BS EN 15804+A2 are used, all products, with few limited exceptions, should declare as a minimum against the product stage, the end-of-life stage and the reuse, recycling and recovery stage. A life cycle impact assessment then covers all relevant environmental impacts, for example the use of energy as well as emissions into air, water and soil. The ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) provides guidelines and requirements for conducting Life Cycle Assessments, primarily via the ISO 14040 series of standards.

The Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) has collated a confidential ‘bill of materials’ from its ‘systems house’ members to produce an ‘average product’ LCA for aluminium-framed windows, from which the ‘average productʼ EPDs has been produced. The production of the ‘average productʼ EPDs was undertaken by EAA (European Aluminium Association), acting as the EPD Programme Operator.

ʻAverage productʼ EPDs are particularly valuable for the concept design stage of a building before a supplier is specified, as they are produced from data taken from a cross-section of the industry. CAB’s ʻaverage productʼ EPD will be further evaluated in the future to ensure that it remains accurate for specifiers of aluminium fenestration.

CAB’s ‘average productʼ EPD is available to Members to offer contractors, developers and clients environmental impact information to assist in the specification process, as well as feed into the BREEAM or LEED ratings for a new or refurbished building. The ‘average productʼ EPD is available for a nominal fee and Members interested in obtaining the document should contact CAB directly.

Should you wish to learn more about the use of Aluminium used in Construction, please contact CAB directly, or why not consider joining the Association and be recognised as being involved in supporting your Industry and helping to shape its future. More information on our website at