EPDs shine a light on environmental performance
The Swedish Act on Climate Declarations for Buildings comes into force in January 2022, which is why companies like Södra are producing Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). Our third-party audited EPDs for three separate areas of wood processing – sawn/planed, coated and impregnated - will be published during this final quarter of 2021. Södra Sustainability Strategist Eva Gustafsson anticipates the impact of our imminent EPDs .
An EPD quantifies the climate impact and greenhouse gas emissions, but other environmental impacts such as acidification and eutrophication (nutrient load in water) are also assessed, so it is a wide-ranging and very timely initiative. Our EPD assessment starts in the forest and goes up the point when sawn timber leaves our mill. As such it will contribute to the climate declaration of downstream processes such as house construction, just as our EPD for coated timber, for example, includes the environmental impact of the paint we specify.
We are confident our EDPs will confirm the environmental and sustainability benefits of using timber for construction. The EPD already published for cross-laminated timber (CLT) from our Södra Building Systems Business Area has shown CLT to reduce the climate impact by up to 80 percent compared with a standard concrete frame.
But we see the EPD process not only as an affirmation of wood as a material and of our processes: it is also a golden opportunity to improve. The EPDs will reveal which areas of our operation have the greatest environmental impact, and we can then focus on them to reduce that impact. Our sawmills already run free of fossil fuels, so our attention should perhaps be on harvesting and transportation. We shall see.
Needless to say we continuously seek to minimize the impact and maximise the sustainability of our wood products throughout the value chain. The EPD will help us direct our efforts, however, while providing our customers with the clear information they need to fulfil their own obligations. But all working towards the same goal of applying circular economy principles to the built environment.