Nearly two years ago, I issued a “Loud Call for Attention” regarding the industry’s development of Life Cycle Assessments for windows. That call reaches a new peak this month as the industry finalizes what is arguably the most critical component of the LCA process: the Product Category Rules.
For those who may not be familiar with the sometimes complex and convoluted terms associated with the LCA process, the sidebar at the right provides an introduction. A more detailed explanation can be found here.
Defining Life Cycle
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): An LCA addresses the embodied energy/carbon footprint of a product, taking into account factors such as climate change, acidification, fossil fuel depletion and human toxicity.
Product Category Rules (PCR): Scopes and sets rules for conducting the Life Cycle Assessment. The PCR ensures everyone is measuring the impacts of a product in the same way.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD): Also known as eco-labels, EPDs disclose the life cycle environmental performance of a product. (The labels are similar to the nutritional labels for the food industry).
Cradle-to-gate: Life cycle assessments that measure the energy impact of a product from material extraction until the product leaves the factory.
Cradle-to-grave: Life cycle assessments that measure the energy impact of the complete life of a product, including: material extraction, manufacturing and production, distribution and transportation, operations and maintenance, and recycle and waste management. (Glazing industry manufacturers might want to consider a cradle-to-grave perspective, as glazing products provide energy benefits during the life of a building.)
Source: Definitions derived from the presentation “Eco-labeling is Coming: Is the Glazing Industry Ready?”, by Helen Sanders, vice president, technical business development, SAGE Electrochromics.
In brief, Product Category Rules (herein, PCRs) are necessary for the creation a lifecycle Environmental Product Declaration for a product. The PCR ensures that all manufacturers are measuring the lifecycle impact of their products using the same metrics.
A joint industry task group that includes the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Glass Association of North America, the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association has been working to develop a PCR for windows for several years. That process is now in its final stages—thus the return of the “Loud Call for Attention.”
Two window PCRs are current available for public comment—one for a cradle-to-grave, business consumer EPD that covers only vertical windows, and another for cradle-to-gate, business to business EPDs, covering all window types, according to the Institute for Environmental Research and Education, a developer of LCA programs. Both window PCR drafts are available for download and review from the IERE. All public comments must be submitted by March 30.
“This will be the final opportunity for the industry to comment on these PCRs, which will affect everyone in the industry required to do an LCA and provide an EPD on any of their products,” said Margaret Webb, executive director of IGMA, in an association release. “These PCRs affect everyone, and if there are any concerns, they need to be raised now, as the LCA group will be meeting to review and resolve any comments received.”
IGMA is asking stakeholders to review the document and submit any comments Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at email@example.com.