“Sustainable construction” is a topic which is gaining momentum, not just in the B2B sector but also the B2C sector. European and national standards will give the topic a tangible form in the near future. The EPLF European Producers of Laminate Flooring has now gone on the offensive and is involved in a project at EU level where representatives of the European flooring industry have joined together and developed rules and standards on assessing the sustainability of flooring. Textile, elastic and laminate flooring are all included in these rules and standards according to the respective EU committees.
The rules and standards, which were recently completed and have now been published on the website of the German Institute of Building and Environment at www.bau-umwelt.de, are known as the “Product Category Rules (PCR)“. The PCR contain the regulations laid down for the creation of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for flooring. An EPD describes the life cycle of a product, from its manufacture, through its use, to its disposal. It requires a life cycle assessment and produces a statement about use of resources, energy balance,
CO2 emissions etc. It also highlights the quality, health and safety aspects in the life cycle of a product.
EPDs act as an evaluation measure for the ecological compatibility of construction materials for architects or planners. In this respect, they are an important condition for the certification of sustainable buildings. Because different products are used when building a house, e.g. cement, bricks and windows as well as flooring, the EPDs for different construction materials have to be coordinated and comparable. This is the very reason why the Product Category Rules were introduced as these lay out the points to be taken into account in an EPD. If all the necessary EPDs for the construction materials used are available to the architect, he adds up the values they contain and can thereby run a sound sustainability assessment of a house.
Pressure from competition set to increase
Following on from the EPLF’s active involvement in the development of the PCR, the EPDs for laminate flooring will be drawn up over the coming months. Through these the EPLF member companies will fulfil their ecological and social responsibility before being officially required to do so through European standards. The significance of EPDs as proof of environmentally-friendly construction materials will soon become a competition factor on the market, particularly in the B2B sector. The European laminate flooring industry must therefore take an interest in announcing to the outside world the sustainability of its products, which has now been proved.
Given that 30 to 40 % of worldwide energy consumption, waste accumulation and CO2 emissions are being caused by the construction and use of buildings alone, the importance of sustainable construction is understandable in the light of climate change. In the UK, France and the US, there have long since been certification systems, which can be used to prove a building's sustainability. The brand new German certificate for sustainable construction was recently introduced in Germany at the German Construction Industry Day in Berlin. This was developed by the German Society for Sustainable Construction (www.dgnb.de) and the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs (www.bmvbs.de) and will soon be awarded in Germany at gold, silver and bronze level.