Sustainable and eco-friendly production
Institut Bauen und Umwelt (Construction and Environment Institute) is an initiative set up by a number of building product manufacturers who decided to join forces in response to the demand for more sustainable construction. They are motivated by an interest in the theme, and a conviction that sustainability is the right way to go.
To members it is important to build up their own expertise vis-à-vis a growing market, while also informing the public and users of building products, and seeking dialogue with them.
Institut Bauen und Umwelt is an association of manufacturers which offers a uniformly presented set of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) of Ecolabel Type III as defined in the ISO and CEN standards. So far its members deal mainly in timber materials, mineral construction materials and metals. If a product carries the Institute’s Environmental Product Declaration, this signifies that it has been independently audited, that it is of a certain standard, and that the company recognises its responsibility in terms of sustainable building.
The Institute for Building Products’ declaration scheme was set up in close coordination with the German construction and environmental authorities, and the international standardisation process. There are similar, successful schemes operative in other countries such as Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Japan. All of them are based on the international standard ISO 14025, which, while it applies to every industry, was pioneered primarily by the building industry. For this industry, the International Standardisation Organisation is currently drawing up ISO CD 21930 "environmental declarations of building products". Institut Bauen und Umwelt is at present the only organisation in Germany to issue declarations compliant with standards which have already been internationally established.
- Environmental Product Declarations form the data-basis for the ecological evaluation of buildings. This is currently laid down within the new European standardisation project “Sustainability of Construction Works”.
- These Declarations are based on ISO standards and are therefore internationally coordinated. They are suited to providing proof of environmental standards in public procurement processes.
- Environmental Product Declarations offer a relevant data-basis from which to make the environmental characteristics of a product transparent and easy to understand for the public.
Most building products are employed together in one overall system – the building. A Type III Declaration for building products which also helps to evaluate the building as a whole is therefore logical. The consumption of resources and emissions into the environment are assessed over the entire manufacturing process. The resulting contribution to the greenhouse effect, to overfertilisation or to the acidification of waterways can be quantified and evaluated using the Life Cycle Assessment method. Life Cycle Assessments supply a systematic and standardised data-basis which can be used to produce an ecological assessment of a building by means of a system of modules consisting of Declarations. A Life Cycle Analysis takes into account the entire life-span of the building – the construction phase, the utilisation phase (including potential changes of use), demolition and disposal – thus enabling statements to be made on the extent to which building products contribute to the energy efficiency of a building, and to other aspects of its sustainable management.
A Declaration includes statements on the use of energy and resources, and the extent to which a product contributes to the greenhouse effect, acidification, overfertilisation, destruction of the ozone layer and smog formation. It also includes information about technical qualities, which is needed to estimate the performance of a building product in a building – such as life-span, heat and noise insulation, and effects on the quality of indoor air.
An ISO Type III Declaration, by including such quantitative statements on the environmental performance of building products, is useful to many different people and entities: planners, architects, construction companies, property companies, facility managers, and of course companies involved, through manufacturing and services, in the value-added chain of raw materials all the way up to their inclusion in buildings.