Maaseik, Belgique/belgie (PressExposure) July 26, 2011 -- EUMEPS presented on July 22th, 2011, a set of Environmental Product Declarations for Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) insulation boards. These help increase the transparency of communication on environmental properties of construction and insulation products.
Sustainability consultant PE International collected data on insulation panels and manufacturing from 24 manufacturing plants in 13 countries in order to establish third-party verified EPDs representative of the whole of Europe. The EPDs are based on the most recent version of CEN TC 350 standard prEN 15804 and in accordance with ISO 14025. The EPDs cover the cradle-to-grave phases of the product but exclude the use phase, which is dependent on the building use and design.
An EPD is a communication tool that provides quantified information on the environmental impact of a product based on a life cycle assessment (LCA). EPDs open up the possibility to combine quantified information about the products applied with environmental information about the whole building, often using software to support the design process and make the calculations.
It is important to acknowledge that values within EPDs for construction products cannot simply be compared on the basis of a weight unit or upon a functional unit. Comparisons should only be performed at the overall building level. Only then it becomes clear how much of a product is needed to meet the technical requirements and how product choices affect the environmental properties, e.g. the overall building design and the use of ancillary materials.
The new EPDs show that EPS performs excellently from an environmental perspective, in addition to the already known technical advantages Although EPS is a petroleum based product, it requires extraordinary little fossil fuel for its production. Only about 0.1% of total oil consumption is used for the production of EPS. This is explained by the foamed cell structure: EPS is 98% air and only 2% polystyrene.
Although the in-use phase is not covered in an EPD, it is worthwhile commenting on this important aspect. The energy payback as thermal insulation is impressive: in the case of thermal renovation of a house with EPS insulation, the total primary energy for production of the EPS used is saved in just 2 to 4 months. During the whole lifetime of the building this primary energy is recovered up to 200 times.
85% of the environmental impact of a building is related to energy consumption in the use phase, largely from heating and cooling needs. Applying the optimal insulation is therefore key to an energy efficient design.
The most important environmental aspect of an insulation material is its thermal performance throughout the lifetime of the building and a design to ensure longevity of this thermal performance. So it is important that optimum insulation possesses properties which allow for long term performance, such as:
Constant thermal insulation value (lambda) over time
Low moisture pick up
Mechanical strength to withstand normal levels of handling and walking without damage
Resistance to rot, mould and decay
Resistance to rodent damage
These are inherent properties of EPS.
The environmental product declarations for EPS are available HERE
EUMEPS is a European association of the EPS industry. EUMEPS membership represents over 90% of the European manufacturing industry. The common interest between members is a belief that EPS is the most cost effective packaging and insulation material. EPS packaging is the best protective packaging for valuable and fresh goods combining sustainability and competitiveness in a single packaging solution; Recycling being promoted through the world wide INEPSA network.
For thermal insulation in construction, EPS offers long-term properties such as high insulation value, high compressive strength and moisture resistance. EPS is lightweight, versatile, easy and completely safe to work with, making it the ideal material in a wide range of applications. EPS has a key role in ensuring safe, comfortable and energy efficient buildings, whilst also contributing strongly to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emission.
EPS comprises about 35 per cent of the total thermal insulation market in Europe and with over 55,000 people employed in the European EPS industry. The role of EUMEPS is to ensure that the advantages of EPS are brought to a larger audience. This is achieved by information sharing to enable an informed dialogue with stakeholders on a national and European level.