Mar 24, 2023
The EPD Rundown from AsphaltPro Magazine
BY Sandy Lender
Help compare apples to apples with this shortened timeline of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
As far back as 2017, asphalt EPDs were on the scene to provide “customers” with the expected environmental impact of an asphalt mix design. The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), in collaboration with its membership and state pavement associations, designed the Emerald Eco-Label tool not only to track your designs for future use but also to communicate quickly and in a common, standard language what the impact of your specific mix will be.
Here’s an overview from 2017, courtesy of former NAPA Pres. Mike Acott.
In simple terms, the EPD offers the owner/agency a way to quantify the mix to be used. Or…EPDs for dummies.
It takes a product category rule (PCR) to start the process and standardize the EPD, which is one of many reasons state agencies/owners are taught not to compare EPDs of different products. Many facets of a product may make it sustainable, but that doesn’t mean it can be compared directly to another sustainable product. We’re reminded of the adage: Don’t compare apples to oranges.
If one element from the EPD is missing, it’s no longer directly comparable to another EPD where that element is included. We can change the adage just a bit into: Don’t compare red apples to yellow ones.
You may be working with two asphalt mix designs, but the two from the same region, sourcing each and every element they incorporate, will be comparable to one another. They won’t be comparable to a mix from across the country that’s missing data on its fiber additive.
Additive manufacturers have started to standardize their EPDs to close the gap in asphalt mix design EPDs:
Whatever stage you’ve reached in your EPD research, the point is our industry needs more producers on board with detailing and tracking the “footprint” of their mix designs. By including your design in a national database, you participate in the effort to build a more reliable data set without gaps—in other words, getting all the same color apples into the barrel.
As government agencies make project decisions in the future, let’s make sure they’re using complete and accurate information; let’s make sure they’re using local environmental product information based on real, factual data shared by asphalt producers in every sector of our nation.
Watch NAPA’s short video on the Emerald Eco-Label tool here.