A few years ago I made the decision to live a healthier lifestyle; not much different than most people I suspect. With influencers such as the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution and the onset of various social media campaigns promoting fitness challenges, it was difficult not to want to get involved and educate myself on the food I was eating. So I began to read nutrition labels more carefully, and keep tabs on the amount of calories from carbs versus fat versus protein. For anyone who has done this, you know it’s not easy. But once you have set a system in place, it all starts to make sense.

The more you know…

Knowing what goes into every product, whether it is food or concrete, gives us the ability to be a more conscientious consumer. So it should come as no surprise that at a time when we have the Architecture 2030 Challenge, and architects and designers want to be involved in green, sustainable, and LEED v4 projects, the demand is high for building product manufacturers to submit Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) to demonstrate the environmental performance of their products.

At a time when concrete is competing with other building materials such as wood, masonry, plastic, fiberglass, and steel, it’s very important to differentiate our product as one that contributes to LEED v4 on many different levels. Concrete’s wide range of applications, each with its own mix design, are considered different products in LEED v4 and therefore contribute significantly to the 20 required products or the 50% of products by cost used in a building.

As an industry, we know this. It’s why so many concrete industry associations are taking notice and rising to the challenge.

We’ve got your EPDs

After years of hard work, the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) Sustainability Committee recently announced that three North American precast concrete EPDs are available for use by its members. This is the result of a joint effort between NPCA, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and the Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute that began in 2008. The EPDs were prepared in accordance with various ISO rules and independently verified by ASTM. With the completion of the EPD effort, members now have an additional tool to offer when projects require it.

The EPDs are now available for the following products: Architectural and Insulated Wall Panels, Structural Precast Concrete Products, and Underground Precast Concrete Products. More on this in our February issue.

The precast industry isn’t the only one stepping up its efforts when it comes to EPDs. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) recently certified the first-ever EPD for cement in North America. That achievement followed a September 2015 milestone when NRMCA certified its 2000th concrete EPD, by far the most of any building product category.

Ready for the next steps

The industry associations are doing their part in promoting concrete, whether it is ready-mixed or precast, as an environmentally conscious and sustainable product. Now, it is up to you, the producers, to use these tools in project bids and in educating the engineers and architects in why concrete is the better choice.