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M I N E R A L W O O L
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B U I L D I N G A S U S T A I N A B L E F U T U R E
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Life-Cycle Assessments:
the Mineral Wool industry’s viewpoint
Much more than a comparison tool
There is a common belief that the main and possibly
only purpose of an LCA is to compare a product’s s
environmental performance. This is however not the
case. LCAs provide a standardised and sound basis for
an industry to assess the entire whole “cradle-to-grave”
life of its products and to identify ways of improvement.
The LCA results must be solid and peer-reviewed and this
is why all LCAs and EPDs for external purposes should
undergo independent third-party verification.
LCA results should be “handled-with-care” in comparative
use. Only functionally fully equivalent alternatives and
individual impact indicators calculated and expressed in
a standardised form can provide an objective basis for
comparison. One product may be good on one impact
criterion, but not as good on another. Furthermore, a
product needs to be assessed in the context of the
application it is being used for in a building.
The mineral wool industry supports the development of
LCAs for insulation products and publication according to
the EN15804 standard, and believes this is the only tool
offering a consolidated assessment at building level.
Assessment at product or building level?
The mineral wool industry considers that, since a
significant proportion of environmental impacts of a
building occur during its use stage, priority should be
given to the building level before considering the product
level environmental performance.
Setting first-line requirements at building level ensures
maximum contribution of products to the overall
environmental performance of a building. Construction
products require a specific approach in terms of
assessment and certification, as they are intermediate
products whose environmental contribution to the overall
performance of a building must be assessed first. Only
the building itself is the final product.
Labelling and standards: Need for
harmonisation
The mineral wool industry recognises that worldwide,
there is an increasing pressure on the market to develop
sustainability evaluation and labelling schemes both for
products and buildings. At the same time, we disagree
with the mushrooming of labels at national, regional or
even local level and think that harmonisation is thus
needed.
Harmonised European standards designed to assess the
sustainability of construction works (standards of the
CEN/TC 350 committee) have been in development since
2004. While the social and economic sections are yet to
be finalised, the environmental part related to buildings
and construction products is available.
How “green” is “green”?
LCAs and corresponding EPDs should become the basic
tool to avoid false environmental claims: so-called “green”
products must be analysed under the LCA lens, as the
only trustworthy way to demonstrate their “environmental
friendliness”. The same applies to “green” labels: in order
to be considered as a reliable way of assessment for
consumers, they should fully evaluate all elements of the
products’ LCA within the building context.