EPD Australasia

Year in review – a message from our Chair

It is strange to look back to the beginning of the year when Covid was still of major concern and lockdowns an ever-present threat to our lifestyle. Fortunately, the organisation was already largely operating remotely, and we were well prepared for the accelerated growth we have experienced this year.

The rate of growth of EPD publication, and companies joining the programme, was extraordinary with a record 107 EPDs published and 20 new members. We now have a total of 273 EPDs published and our membership is 96 organisations.

In March we dropped publication fees for each EPD, adjusted the annual fee and instituted a joining fee. The change was made to encourage more single-product EPDs and has been well-received by our members.

The large increase in EPDs for concrete and concrete elements continued this year. Whilst Holcim Australia was the first company to have their EPD development process certified, several others have followed including Hanson Australia, Hymix, Adbri and Holcim New Zealand. The recent accreditation of a second EPD process certifier Bureau Veritas Australia and New Zealand, bodes well for supporting companies that want to have an internal certified EPD development process.

Individual verifiers were also under the pump, so we approved 2 more verifiers to help.  All verifiers are required to demonstrate expertise and meet competency requirements in Life Cycle methodologies and critical review of LCA studies, as defined in the General Programme Instructions and our Regional Annex.

We released an updated Regional Annex in October that clarified how electricity must be modelled, disaggregation of water flows for Australian EPDs, and allowing multiple products in the same EPD – although we still strongly encourage businesses to develop single-product EPDs.

Our Advocacy is growing with our active memberships of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), the Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC) and the Materials Embodied Carbon Leadership Alliance (MECLA). We also made numerous representations to national and state governments and other key stakeholders across Australasia to advocate for using verified EPD data to benchmark and reduce the environmental impacts of building and construction projects.

If we look to the vision of what EPDs will be, and how they will operate in 10 or 20 years, then the transition to digital BIG-DATA is obvious. The transition required is from eyeball and PDF with human analysis and decision making, to large groups of datasets and computer analysis presenting scenarios for human decisions. The design of the databases and user interfaces is critical. The management team has been working extensively with the International EPD System for some time to achieve the necessary technical design and implementation of a new digital regime.

To the future

  • we recognise the urgent need to develop EPD digital products. This was a feature of the workshop we held at the ALCAS conference, EPD users want to be able to access digital data from EPDs.
  • we estimate the market for EPDs at 250,000 individual building products. A sample of our EPDs in PDF form had an average of 12 products per EPD indicating we currently have approximately 5,000 individual products in our EPDs. Scaling up to the projected numbers will require a well-designed and robust digital process.
  • we need to develop our ability to accept EPDs from pre-verified EPD tools. These are common in European and North American EPD programmes and feed directly into the digital platform(s).
  • we need to keep abreast of other international developments such as dual recognition and dual registration.

It has been a busy year for everyone, our clients/members, our supporting LCA consultants and verifiers and the team within EPD Australasia. I would like to thank Kelly Taylor, our Programme Manager, Andrew D. Moore, our Technical Advisor and Steve Mitchell, our Marketing and Advocacy Manager for the huge amount of time and effort put in. I thank my fellow Directors for their efforts throughout the year and their input to strategy discussions and addressing our issues. I also wish to thank our volunteers on our Technical Advisory Group for their efforts and guidance in a very busy year.

Many of the challenges of the past year remain to be completed and I expect this coming year to be just as demanding as the last. Working together on these challenges is what makes it all worthwhile.

The EPD Australasia team wish you all a very happy festive season and looks forward to working with you in 2024!

Ma te wa (“see you later”)

John McArthur

Chair, Board of Directors of EPD Australasia Ltd

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