The growing importance of EPDs. Why it matters and how you use them.
When you want to know how your purchases affect the environment, EPDs is a trustworthy, understandable, and comparable way to see a product's impact. This article explains what EPDs are, how they will enable better choices for the environment, and how you can use them to protect specifications.
As the climate movement finally found a foothold and gained momentum over the past few years, the outlook is very bright. Today, most companies use sustainability as part of their business strategy and marketing. But how sustainable are they really?
We need a better way to measure the weight of our choices, actions, and claims. One with credible values that replace complexity and confusion with clarity and confidence.
This would simplify how we talk about and compare our climate impact.
An essential part of the solution?
EPDs are like nutritional values for a product’s environmental impact
EPDs, Environmental Product Declarations (ISO 14025), are much like the nutritional values you find on food labels. As you know, these values are not promises for health benefits. But what the nutritional values do give, is critical data at a glance.
With this data, you can easily compare products. And with basic dietary knowledge, you can even determine how the product will impact your health and wellbeing.
Like food labels, an EPD is not an ecolabel or sustainability certification. Instead, an EPD shows what a product is made of and how it impacts the environment through its lifecycle.
Vestre believes EPDs are an essential part of how we will make informed choices going forward.
Read more: Note Design Studio's re-usable stand for Vestre explains the carbon emissions of each product (Dezeen, February 7th 2020)
Our FOLK bench has a carbon footprint of 1.73 kg CO2 per year
Vestre started publicly sharing EPD values at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in 2020. Next to each piece of furniture, display boards informed visitors of the carbon emissions from each product’s life cycle.
Our FOLK bench designed by Swedish studio Front, for example, has a carbon footprint of 1.73 kg of carbon dioxide per year, assuming the product remains in use for 30 years.
Sharing transparent emission data in an intuitive way was praised by visitors. The organizers recognized it as well and awarded us Best Stand while saying: "The brand has even calculated the carbon footprint of every product. This stand takes sustainability to a new level.”
Make informed choices with EPDs for Vestre’s entire product range
Building on the positive feedback from Stockholm, we spent the past year mapping our products’ carbon footprint. It has been interesting, demanding, and rewarding work—and our goal is to certify Environmental Product Declarations for every piece of Vestre furniture.
When done, we are the first furniture company in the world to calculate and publish carbon information, global warming potential, and more for an entire product range.
"We're doing it because we want to be really open and transparent, and to help consumers and professionals make the best choices for people and the environment,” says Jan Christian Vestre.
Keep an eye out for our 2021 edition of the Vestre Inspiration Book & Catalogue. For the first time, a furniture company has included data and values from their EPDs in a product catalogue.
Click here to order the world’s first furniture catalogue with EPD values
Use case: Reduce unwanted changes in specifications
From a client and procurement office perspective, EPDs makes it easier to specify environmentally superior products. When you want to be sure that your project is realized according to plan, strengthen your specification by including EPD requirements.
This approach reduces the chance of someone swapping your choices with inferior products.
Use case: Prove the environmental effect from product longevity
All Vestre products come with a lifetime guarantee against rust.
"We make products with the ability to last forever,” says Jan Christian, who runs the family owned Vestre. "If they can live forever, we can significantly reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact."
Product longevity has been a core value since the inception of Vestre some seventy-odd years ago. But we couldn’t put an exact number on the positive effect of longevity. Until now.
With the advent of EPDs and carbon accounting, we can finally calculate the financial and environmental upside from choosing a product that lasts decades longer than the alternative.
By knowing the total emissions, as planners and procurement organizations will with our products, they can easily consider both emissions and price from a lifecycle perspective.
Use case: Calculate your project’s impact with Pathfinder
Pathfinder is a free web software from Climate Positive Design. It allows landscape architects to calculate and understand the climate impact of their project’s materials, composition, and products.
In cooperation with the founder, landscape architect Pamela Conrad, we will soon make Vestre’s full product catalogue available in Pathfinder.
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it
In 2019, we mapped Vestre’s corporate footprint. A key finding was that improvements in steel and transport would yield the highest return. This insight would never be available to us without having measured all aspects of our business and analysing the numbers.
We want you to have the same level of insight into your projects. By equipping our furniture with impact metrics, you will know what difference it makes to choose Vestre.
We are very excited that our products now measurably improve your carbon footprint.
Have an honest look in the mirror
While revising Vestre to prepare our EPDs, we realized something. By having an honest look in the mirror—turning every stone, measuring and counting everything—we became a better organization. Even more aware of our place in the world and accountable for our impact.
We uncovered new and better ways to care for our clients and community, and we use the EPD insights to make informed choices on which materials to use, where to source them, and how to process them. Metrics show we are making the world a little better every day.
As we gain momentum, the more we learn about the impact of everything we do, the more informed choices we can make, the better we become.
We gladly share what we have learned so far with implementing EPDs.
We believe having metrics on a product’s carbon footprint will be as common as nutritional value labels on food. Soon, everyone has data to make informed choices for a healthy planet.