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Research to commence into establishment of a New Zealand Whole Building Whole of Life Framework and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) - by David Dowdell (BRANZ)


The New Zealand construction sector is important with domestic expenditure on building materials and products of nearly NZ$6 billion and a further NZ$3 billion in exports annually.  With several reports now published domestically and internationally setting out the benefits of building “green”, the New Zealand construction industry has raised the issue of how to assess its products “on a level playing field”.

Overseas, construction product LCAs and EPD are gaining recognition in building environmental rating tools, particularly in Europe and USA.  As a result, overseas manufacturers are developing LCAs and EPD to ensure fair representation of their products in comparison with competitors and to provide a credible basis for communication with customers. 

Construction products may find different applications in buildings or may frequently be used with other products to form assemblies that contribute to building performance (e.g. thermal performance).  Performance is also a function of design, taking into account building location and orientation. 

To consider the inherent complexity in buildings, whole building whole of life assessment has developed to provide a framework that uses LCA to evaluate building environmental impacts.  The framework takes EPD data on manufacture of products and other data, such as outputs from building thermal simulation models, to calculate impacts across a building life cycle.  Buildings can therefore be designed and evaluated based on calculated environmental impacts, including the contribution made by products to building performance, as well as through product maintenance, replacement and end of life.   

In order to provide New Zealand manufacturers with a “level playing field” for evaluation, BRANZ and the Centre for Life Cycle Management will commence research into development of a New Zealand whole building whole of life framework during Autumn 2013.

For further information, please visit the BRANZ website.