European Model Environmental Product Declarations (Model EPDs)
European Model EPDs demonstrate the environmental credentials of adhesives and sealants in construction
Sustainable development is of great significance in the construction industry. Increasingly, architects and green procurement bodies are demanding products that meet international sustainability standards. The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) 305/2011 of the European Parliament and European Council (check FEICA position on the review of the Construction Products Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011) included the requirement for 'sustainability', and Belgium and France have national legislation requiring Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for construction products with an environmental claim.
From 2016 to 2022, FEICA offered 'FEICA Model Environmental Product Declarations (Model EPDs)', which could be used by construction products manufacturers to prove the environmental impact of their products. Therefore, the choice of adhesive and sealant products available to architects and green procurement bodies was significantly increased.
The expansion of the range of products with Model EPDs gives SMEs improved access to a market that is otherwise available only to some and leads to significant cost and time savings for companies.
As Model EPDs are valid only for a maximum of 6 years, the 2016 versions were updated in 2022. FEICA, Industrieverband Klebstoffe (IVK), the European Federation for Construction Chemicals (EFCC) and Deutsche Bauchemie e.V. (DBC) undertook a joint project to revise and extend the Model EPDs, as well as to extend the scope for additional substances and formulations.
The European Model EPDs are available to FEICA Direct Company Members (DCMs), Affiliate Company Members (ACMs) and FEICA National Association Members (NAMs). They are valid across the whole of Europe (not limited to the EU). Turkey, is not included.
- Products based on POLYURETHANE (PU) or SILANE-modified polymer, group 1 to 4 (4 EPDs)
- Products based on POLYURETHANE, group 5 to 6 (2 EPDs)
- Dispersion-based products, group 1 to 4 (4 EPDs)
- SILICONE based products - group 1 to 3 (3 EPDs)
- Products based on EPOXY-resin, group 1 to 5 (5 EPDs)
- Modified mineral MORTARS, group 1 to 3 (3 EPDs)
In 2022, two webinars were co-organised by FEICA, IVK and DBC for their members to explain 'how to use Model EPDs to address market and regulatory needs for adhesives and sealants in the construction sector'. One webinar was held in English and another in German.
FEICA members can click on the respective language to view the presentations on the FEICA Extranet where a recording of the webinar in English is also available.
The key takeaways of the webinars were:
- Model EPDs should form the basis for manufacturers of construction adhesives and sealants to deal with the future legal obligations and the demand from the market, especially in the ongoing environmental sustainability context
- The developed Model EPD system is a third-party verified system according to EN 15804+A2 following the rules and instructions of the programme holder Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. The environmental impact data were calculated based on a worst-case approach
- Direct and indirect (via National Associations) members of FEICA, IVK, DBC and EFCC are allowed to check their products and declare the compliance with one of the Model EPDs
- The published 21 Model EPDs allow in combination with the member-only material (guideline and substance list) an easy access to EPDs for a broad range of adhesives and sealants construction products
You can download all European Model EPDs from the table below or from the IBU website (type 'FEICA' under 'Manufacturer').
Download the Model EPDs
(Product Category Rules)
|Products based on polyurethane or silane-modified polymer, group 1||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on polyurethane or silane-modified polymer, group 2||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on polyurethane or silane-modified polymer, group 3||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on polyurethane or silane-modified polymer, group 4||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on polyurethane, group 5||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on polyurethane, group 6||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on epoxy-resin, group 1||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on epoxy-resin, group 2||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on epoxy-resin, group 3||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on epoxy-resin, group 4||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Products based on epoxy-resin, group 5||Construction adhesives and coatings||Reaction resin products||Request guideline|
|Dispersion-based products, group 1||Construction adhesives and coatings||Dispersion adhesives and primers for floor coverings||Request guideline|
|Dispersion-based products, group 2||Construction adhesives and coatings||Dispersion adhesives and primers for floor coverings||Request guideline|
|Dispersion-based products, group 3||Construction adhesives and coatings||Dispersion adhesives and primers for floor coverings||Request guideline|
|Dispersion-based products, group 4||Construction adhesives and coatings||Dispersion adhesives and primers for floor coverings||Request guideline|
|Silicone-based products, group 1||Building products||Membranes including Liquid applied and kits||Request guideline|
|Silicone-based products, group 2||Building products||Membranes including Liquid applied and kits||Request guideline|
|Silicone-based products, group 3||Building products||Membranes including Liquid applied and kits||Request guideline|
|Modified mineral mortars, group 1
||Masonry and related products||Mineral factory-made mortar||Request guideline|
|Modified mineral mortars, group 2
||Masonry and related products||Mineral factory-made mortar||Request guideline|
|Modified mineral mortars, group 3
||Masonry and related products||Mineral factory-made mortar||Request guideline|
Major improvements of the updated EPDs:
- All substances are grouped by their chemical structure in only one uniform list and may be used in all EPDs
- The single scores of the substances were calculated by taking into account 14 environmental impact categories
- A guideline (valid for all EPDs) is available describing the use of the EPDs and especially the procedure to calculate the single score of a product; there is also a FAQ section included.
- The scope of allowed chemicals of the EPDs of each chemical group only differ with respect to their content of volatile substances (VOCs) and castor oil and -derivatives
- The application modules of the EPDs of each chemical group are the same
- There will be the option to individualise the EPD. The exact terms and the procedure will be described in a guideline (still in preparation)
There are several types of EPDs, with the difference based on the way in which the data is assessed:
A unique EPD is developed for every individual product. Standard EPDs represent a high burden for the adhesive and sealant industry because of the huge effort it would take to develop and maintain EPDs for the broad and frequently changing product portfolios that typify the adhesive and sealant industry, especially where there are often only small differences chemically between the products.
An average EPD is calculated for a particular range of products. These are suitable for specific product groups covering well-defined products with similar functions. However, they are not suitable for the adhesive and sealant industry due to the high diversity in the chemistry of products, even within a single application. Only companies that were involved in the development phase and have inputted their data can use the average EPD. Therefore, it does not serve the whole branch.
These are the most suitable for adhesives and sealants. Rather than covering a particular range of products, they are structured according to chemical composition and cover all products within a certain range of formulations and applications. As the environmental impact of an adhesive or a sealant to a building is comparatively low (<1%), any differentiation between products would not contribute any more meaningful information due to the complexity of the system.
Model EPDs are developed using a "worst case scenario” approach. Although there is a high workload in the development phase to achieve an accepted and verified system, in the end they may be used by all eligible members of FEICA and can easily and conveniently accommodate new products.
The validated Declaration of the core EPD entitles the holder to bear the symbol of the Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. It exclusively applies for products produced in Europe and for a period of five years from the date of issue. The core EPD may be used by FEICA members and their members provided it has been proven that the respective product can be represented by this particular EPD.
FEICA has a guideline and a excel based calculation sheet available for FEICA Members. This guideline, together with a template for a declaration of compliance, is available for FEICA members by clicking on the 'Request guideline' link in the above table.
Model EPDs - Frequently asked questions
What is an EPD?
An EPD is a comprehensive report created according to internationally agreed upon standards (e.g. ISO 14025, EN 15804 + A2, etc.) which documents the environmental impact of a product throughout the product's life cycle. Typically, an EPD will include information, where applicable, about a product’s impact on global warming, ozone layer depletion, water pollution, ozone formation and greenhouse gas emissions. In the construction sector, EPDs help architects, designers and purchasers to better understand a product’s sustainable credentials and environmental impact. As a result, EPDs enable customers to make more informed purchasing decisions.
In many industries, and particularly in the construction sector, there is an increasing demand to improve and demonstrate the sustainability credentials of their products.
Certification organisations such as the DGNB (the German Sustainable Building Council), BREEAM (the UK’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), HQE (the French High Environmental Quality certification), and LEED (the United States’ Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) have started to implement sustainability criteria, primarily for buildings, but also to define specific requirements for construction products based on life cycle analyses and emissions.
The adhesive and sealant industry is faced with growing demands for information about its products to prove they meet the requirements of sustainable construction projects. The demand is increasing even though the impact of a given adhesive or sealant in terms of the raw material and energy consumption related to the building as a whole may be negligible. One way to demonstrate the environmental credentials of a product is through the so-called EPDs.
Although there is a European Standard that is followed in the various EU member states, there is still a lack of harmonisation as regards to the details of implementation of EN 15804 + A2, with some member states asking for additional indicators. Therefore EN 15804 + A2 can be considered as the core that is necessary for an EPD in Europe. FEICA provides this core for the European Model EPDs.
The Model EPD system is owned by FEICA, the European Federation for Construction Chemicals (EFCC), Deutsche Bauchemie (DBC) and Industrieverband Klebstoffe (IVK). They set the conditions for the use of the system and the documents.
Who is entitled to use the Model EPDs?
Users must be members of an association that initiated and owns the system (FEICA, EFCC, DBC, IVK) and in the case of FEICA, members of national associations that are members of FEICA are also eligible.
Where can I get more detailed information about the system?
Information is available in the publicly available Model EPDs (via FEICA and IBU), the ‘Substance list’ and the ‘Guideline for the calculation of formulation’s single scores’ (available on request for authorised users). There is also a webinar in English and German explaining the system and giving examples of how to use it (see presentation via FEICA 'Webinars for Model EPDs' - this is also relevant for other EPD FAQs). For additional questions, the FEICA Secretariat can be contacted via email@example.com.
What must an authorised user do to obtain a Model EPD?
The user is responsible for checking that their formulation meets the requirements of the guideline that FEICA makes available to its members. The user must check whether the Model EPD in question covers their product by comparing the Guideline with their formulation. They can then prepare a declaration (e.g. based on a template provided by FEICA) confirming they have verified that the product is covered by the respective Model EPD.
To obtain a Model EPD, a user must have the documents at hand and have checked whether and which of the Model EPDs represents their product.
How can I select the appropriate EPD?
To select an appropriate EPD:
- the basic chemistry and the prescribed restrictions of the substances must match
- the application must be described in the Model EPD
- the single score of the product must be calculated and the result must be below the maximum value of the Model EPD. If more than one Model EPD applies to the product in question, the Model EPD with the lowest maximum score still covering the product must be selected.
See the guideline on the FEICA webinar presentation chart #57 - #65.
How can I select the matching Model EPD if they differ only by group number?
If more than one Model EPD applies to the product in question, the Model EPD with the lowest maximum score still covering the product must be selected. The selection of the appropriate EPD first requires the calculation of the product’s single score. Only then is the selection possible (see webinar presentation chart #62).
Which documents are needed for the correct assignment of a product to a Model EPD?
An authorised user needs: (i) the Model EPDs (publicly available on the FEICA website) (ii) the formulation of the product (user’s own know-how), (iii) the user’s knowledge of the product’s field of application, (iv) the guideline (‘Guideline for the calculation of formulation’s single scores’) and (v) the substance list (‘Calculate your formulation’s single score’). Documents (iv) and (v) are available from the FEICA Secretariat for FEICA members only (including members of national associations that are FEICA members).
Is there a list of substances that may be used in products represented by a Model-EPD?
Authorised users can get a ‘Substance list’ from FEICA on request. The list contains all substances that may be used.
What are the options if a substances cannot be identified in the substance list?
If a substance cannot be identified, then there are the following possibilities:
There could be a group name containing the substance in question. To make the system more flexible, single score values were formed in some cases for the group headers of chemically similar substances. The highest value for the individual substances was selected for the single score of the group header. The listed substances of the group are representative examples of the group. It is at a chemist’s expertise and discretion to decide whether a substance is similar to the group members and thus falls under the group header. In addition, the list contains a number of substances that are defined by their function and usually used only in small amounts in a formulation.
If the substance is used in a concentration <1%, substance #395 ‘additives/other substances < 1 %’ can be used.
If the substance is an aqueous dispersion with a different concentration, the concentration of the dispersion in the formulation can be recalculated to match the solid content of the listed dispersion and the single score adjusted accordingly. See webinar presentation chart #61 as well as the guideline.
In case a substance cannot be found at all only formulations containing listed substances should to be represented by the Model EPDs. The Model EPD system is not designed to assign single scores to all chemical structures. It can therefore not be used in these cases.
Does the Model EPD system allow the user to calculate single substance scores for non-listed substances?
The substance list is ‘closed’ and does not allow calculations to create values for substances that are not listed.
Is it possible to add additional substances to the list?
The substance list is ‘closed’, it is not possible to add additional substances before a next update of the system (should one take place).
How were the single substance scores for the individual substances calculated?
The single scores of the substances were calculated based on a scheme derived from a method defined in the PEF system; the purpose of the substance scores is to classify formulations to select the appropriate EPD.
For the calculation, 13 indicators were used, which were normalised and weighted according to published factors. The values for the indicators are based on data from Sphera. See the webinar presentation, charts #43 - #45.
Are there any costs associated with the use of the Model EPD system?
The use of the EPDs is free of charge for FEICA Members and Members of the NAMs (See Who is Who). The Institut Bauen und Umwelt e. V. (IBU) does not have to be involved as it is a self-declaration system. Only if a manufacturer wants to individualise their EPDs will the IBU be involved for a fee-based verification.
Do I have to disclose my formulation to an organisation?
The European Model EPD system is a self-declaration system. The users therefore have to check by themselves whether their product complies with the respective Model EPDs. Only if a user wants to publish an ‘individualised EPD’ a verification by an external auditor is required for which the formulation has to be disclosed to a certain extent.
What does ‘individualisation’ of an EPD mean?
European Model EPDs are EPDs that have been verified by third parties and can be used without further verification, provided that the conditions described in the ‘Guideline for the calculation of formulation’s single scores’ (available from FEICA) are met. Furthermore, it is possible to individualise the Model EPDs according to the regulations of the IBU.
In the case of individualisation, the EPD names one or more products on the cover page and describes the technical and application data of the product in a more product-specific way; the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data are not changed as is the case with the Model EPD. For the individualisation process, co-operation with the IBU is required. The IBU will organise the limited verification and publish the EPDs, for which a fee is charged. In addition, the manufacturer must either be a member of the IBU or the association to which it belongs must to be a member of the IBU. See webinar presentation chart #66 and ‘Individualisation of the European Model Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)’ which is available from FEICA.
How can a FEICA member create a Model EPD with its company name and product name?
European Model EPDs are verified third-party EPDs and may be used without further verification if the conditions are met.
It is possible to individualise the Model EPDs according to the regulations of the IBU described in its general instructions and as described in the guideline ‘Individualisation of the European Model Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)’, which is available from FEICA.
Can a Model EPD compliance declaration, prepared by an authorised user, be used by a private label partner?
The information on compliance with one of the Model EPDs can be passed on to a third party and the third party can use this information in its communication with its customers. The third party may neither publish its own declaration (e.g. based on the template ‘compliance declaration’ provided by the associations) nor individualise the Model EPD.
Only authorised FEICA member companies may use the guideline and the substance list to check the formulation and select an appropriate Model EPD.
Please note that forwarding of Guidelines and Substance List as property of the consortium associations to non-members is prohibited!
Are there formal requirements for the declaration of compliance?
There are no formal requirements on how a user declares compliance with a particular Model EPD. For convenience, FEICA has prepared a template for its members which is available on request from the FEICA Secretariat via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does FEICA provide a list of products certified under the Model EPD system?
FEICA does not maintain a list of products that comply with the requirements of the Model EPD system; the user usually makes a self-declaration stating that they have checked that their product complies with the relevant Model EPD.