January 14, 2014 - 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 year-long period during which the original version was implemented. Both the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and ASTM International have adopted the PCR for use in their respective EPD programs.

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 analyzed), 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 NRMCA or ASTM International.

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 Web site and details on verifying EPDs to the document are available at the NRMCA and ASTM Web sites, respectively.

NRMCA, based in Silver Spring, MD, is a non-profit organization that represents the producers of ready mixed concrete and the companies that provide materials, equipment and support to the industry. Founded in 1930, the Association provides its members with education, training, certification, promotion, research, engineering, safety, environmental, technological, lobbying and regulatory programs to enhance the success of the ready mixed concrete industry.

The Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) is an industry-academic collaborative research effort hosted by the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. CLF works to link the rigor of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based Carbon Accounting to industry best practices in order to enable quantifiable reduction to the environmental impact of the built environment. Its research is focused on developing the data, analysis and standards needed to accurately predict, report and reduce the carbon impact of building materials and products. The purpose of the organization is to enable industry members to work closely with academia to advance the creation of standard Product Category Rules (PCRs) to enable supply chain specific Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. ASTM’s leadership in international standards development is driven by the contributions of its members: more than 30,000 of the world’s top technical experts and business professionals representing 150 countries. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM’s advanced electronic infrastructure, ASTM members deliver the test methods, specifications, guides and practices that support industries and governments worldwide.