ASTM International announces its new initiative as a Program Operator for Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which will provide the venue for developing PCRs and verifying EPDs. As “green” and “sustainability”become more prevalent terms and measurement systems and labels more common, the need is growing to understand the real environmental impact of products from raw material extraction to disposal and recycling.

"The ASTM International program will provide scientifically based, quantifiable information about product parameters such as resource consumption and ozone depletion, which will give both businesses and consumers an understanding of a product's real impact on the environment," says Timothy Brooke, VP of certification, training and proficiency testing at ASTM International. Through ASTM's certification program, technical advisory committees will oversee the development process for PCRs.

PCRs will detail the rules and guidelines for developing environmental declarations for products that can fulfill equivalent functions. EPDs will be verified to ensure their adherence to the ISO 14040 standards as well as to ensure that life cycle assessment data accurately describes the environmental aspects of a product. ASTM International has developed its program in accordance with ISO 14025 - Environmental Labels and Declarations - Type III Environmental Declarations - Principles and Procedures.

Representatives of the roofing industry are already working with ASTM to develop PCRs. A member of ASTM's Committee D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing, Philip Moser, P.E., a building envelope consultant at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Waltham, Mass., says, "Virtually every roofing product on the market now touts its green benefits, but it is often difficult for the specifier, contractor and building owner to evaluate the veracity and relevance of the marketing claims. Once consensus-based PCRs are developed for the North American roofing industry, environmental declarations can use a consistent format, and, more importantly, be based on a more consistent set of calculations and assumptions. The end result is a win-win-win for responsible manufacturers, for concerned professionals and consumers, and for the environment."

In ASTM Committee E60 on Sustainability, a proposed standard practice will give guidance about information that all PCRs should contain regardless of the product. "For example, one life cycle assessment practitioner may assume that a product is sent to a landfill at the end of life while another may assume that a product is incinerated. Different environmental impacts result from these two different end-of-life scenarios. This standard will fill in many of the gaps that exist in current life cycle assessment standards," says Amy Costello, P.E., senior environmental scientist at Armstrong World Industries Inc., Lancaster, Pa., an E60 member and a current member of the ASTM board of directors.

Inquiries about developing new PCRs and verifying EPDs are welcome; please contact ASTM's Certification and Declarations Department at cert@astm.org or visit www.astm.org/EPDs for more information regarding the ASTM International program.