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EPD and Sustainability Certification: what are they and how to achieve them

Autore
February 27, 2024

How to implement the inventories needed for the Greenhouse Gases’ calculation (GHG), Carbon Footprint and EPD. Learn how to obtain these Environmental Certifications.

ISO 14064-1 / ISO 14067 Certifications: what are them and how to receive them to better convey the sustainability of your products

The three most relevant certifications available to companies in the fight against climate change are:

  • ISO 14064-1;
  • ISO 14067;
  • EPD (Environmental Product Declaration).

The first two are directly linked with climate change, a process caused by the increasing global warming and pollution gas emissions. Specifically, they are related to the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions, the so-ca­­­­lled GHGs.

The Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is based on a methodology, known as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), which takes into account not only the carbon footprint of a product, but also all other environmental impacts related to the production of by-products.

ISO 14064-1 certification – the Carbon Footprint of Organization

ISO 14064-1 is concerned with the carbon footprint of an organisation and involves the analysis of an organisation’s processes as a whole. In fact, it accounts for both upstream and downstream gas emissions.

ISO 14067 certification or Product Carbon Footprint (PCF)

ISO 14067 focuses on products or services, and is also based on the LCA study.

It considers both upstream and downstream processes to determine the real carbon footprint of a product or a service. The particularity of ISO 14067 certification is that it can be applied in different ways:

  • partial application, where it does not affect the product as a whole, but only the scope of the production process (from cradle to gate);
  • full application, which involves an analysis of the entire production process (LCA), up to the final use of the product (from cradle to grave).

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), Greenhouse Gases (GHG) inventories and CFP (Carbon Footprint): what are them?

The GHG’s inventory is based on ISO 14064-1 and is the accounting of the CO2 emissions associated with the organisation.

Which greenhouse gases must be considered during the reporting phase?
According to the Kyoto Protocol, the 6 main greenhouse gases to account for are those listed below:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Fluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

Obviously not all companies emit gases, and some might emit just a few of the gases in the list. However, it is very important to be able to trace all the emissions originated by the activities of the company.

Carrying out a GHGs’ inventory means investigating the whole production chain, upstream and downstream, verifying all processes involved and the type of emissions produced or expected to be produced prior to initiate reporting.

The reporting process examines 6 different categories.

The first concerns direct GHG emissions, i.e. those that are the direct responsibility of the organisation and can be linked, for example, to the use of thermal methane in cogeneration plants, refrigerant gas leakage, etc.

The second reporting category relates to indirect emissions, i.e. tied to the purchase of electricity.

The third category, formerly identified as GHG Protocol, is now divided into several groups, and covers everything outside the company, i.e. transport, raw materials and employee travel.

As mentioned above, with respect to the carbon footprint, it is necessary to perform the LCA study, i.e. an audit of the entire supply chain from the production point of view of a specific product.

It is essential to define from the very beginning the boundaries of the system, but even more fundamental is to define the object of the study and the functional unit. This choice must be taken regardless the type of product and it is necessary to ensure the validity of the final result of emissions’ analysis.

The carbon footprint of a product, on the other hand, is assessed through a more in-depth and focused methodology compared to the one used for the organisation itself.

The EPD is based on the ISO 14025 standard and requires the reporting not only of CO2 emissions, but also of other product-related aspects of pollution. In particular, it is important to correctly identify the functional unit and to ensure that product specifications have been formulated.

The product category rules (PCRs) are necessary in order to be able to carry out the LCA study following the existing regulations. 

 If PCRs have not been written, they must be proposed by the applicant and an approval process must be followed in order to produce an environmental product declaration. 

The process of establishing a sustainability path. How does it work and what is it for?

Nowadays, the European Community as a regulatory framework, requires companies to respond in the best and most efficient way possible to Goal 13 of Agenda 2030. As a result there is considerable turmoil in the markets as companies are having to decide on the best way to communicate their strategies and actions for environmental sustainability.

The first point of order in route to achieving certification is understanding the context in which the company operates. This is done by identifying the stakeholders and clarifying the objectives with customers and possible shareholders.

Next, a baseline must be specified. A beginning year is set, from which starting to report in order to achieve the milestones of the environmental sustainability strategy, which of course is tied to the 2030 Agenda, with particular importance placed on goal 13, that relates to climate change.

Once this initial analysis has been carried out, the company, bearing in mind any market demands or any specific directives, is required to submit a non-financial declaration at the earliest opportunity in order to choose the best sustainability path, which can be based on ISO 14064-1 certification, i.e. the organisation’s GHG inventory, or based on ISO 14067 with the study of the product’s carbon footprint, or even with EPD, i.e. the environmental declaration of third-party products.

Once the sustainability path has been identified, and the calculations performed according to the chosen standard, the setting of a strategic sustainability plan with related targets will follow.

This involves the identification of medium to long-term targets in five or ten-year plans, starting from the baseline. This generally involves continuous monitoring year by year, and the execution of concrete actions carried out to reduce emissions.

The actions include repeated energy audits and effective monitoring within production cycles, and an in-depth analysis of the product or service provided. Assessments need to be made on the possibility of re-engineering or rethinking product design and production processes. This may involve looking into both upstream and downstream supply chains, depending on the context of the company in question, and introducing circularity into production, which has the potential to add value to the product, and reduce overall emissions. 

Every year, following the verification of the results achieved, outcomes can be communicated to stakeholders through corporate channels. This can be either voluntary or mandatory, in case the reported results are to be included within a sustainability report and non-financial statement.

The advantages in applying GHG, CFP and EPD

Performing GHG reporting under ISO 14064-1, or under carbon footprint (ISO 14067) or producing an environmental product declaration has many advantages for companies.

Chief among them is being able to meet the requirements of the European Community regarding the 2030 Agenda and especially Goal 13. The company has the possibility to constantly review a series of indicators not only for energy performance, but also related to CO2 emissions, in order to be able to plan improvements for the achievement of these targets.

The implementation of these standards also has the following benefits:

  • It increases the value of the product or organization, as the subsequent results can be communicated outward. 
  • It broadens the skills of buyers in the supply chain, so that we have a supply chain that is increasingly attentive to the importance of and able to take on the goal of reducing CO2 emissions.
  • Stakeholders will be made aware of corporate sustainability issues.
  • There will be an optimization of energy consumption and expenditure, improvement of environmental and workplace conditions, and an overall positive impact on the environment, community and natural resources. 
  • In general there will be a decrease in emissions and a more conscious reuse of materials to reduce waste. This will have a positive impact on overall natural resource use. 
  • Positive green marketing.
  • Increased sales.

How to qualify for these certifications

The paths leading to ISO 14064-1, ISO 14067 and Carbon Footprint certifications are relatively straightforward and develop over a period of approximately one – one and a half year.

As a first step, it is important to strategically determine which of the different directions is the most suitable one for the company. Then, a baseline is drawn to conduct a reporting of all the processes and services.

The result of the analysis is collected in a report, a carbon footprint report or an LCA study, with an environmental product declaration to be certified by a third-party organisation. This entity will provide evidence of the achievements made to date and will verify that the studies carried out are indeed compliant with the standard that the company has decided to pursue.

At this stage, the certification process must not stop, but instead should extend over a period of at least three years, with a continuation of the objectives for the following years.

The upholding must be deployed in a far-sighted way to compare the following years to the baseline to better communicate with ones’ stakeholders in order to inform them of the benefits obtained, from one year to the next, as a result of the CO2 emission reduction measures.

Why choose Alens for ISO 14064-1 and ISO 14067 certification

We have been involved in energy efficiency, energy management, and environmental sustainability for many years. A decade of growth has enabled us to develop the specific skills needed in ISO 14064-1, ISO 14067 and EPD certifications.

We can offer both technical and strategic expertise, which allows us to identify the most appropriate tool for companies that want to improve and embark on a path towards environmental sustainability.

Thanks to our profound expertise in the energy efficiency field, we walk alongside companies on a path that will bring important benefits in terms of both social recognition and green marketing.

Alens can represent an added value in identifying the strategic sustainability plans that allow companies to execute concrete actions in terms of CO2 emissions.

Riuscire a coniugare la sostenibilità ambientale e il risparmio energetico con la crescita del business è la sfida di tutte le aziende. Vuoi sapere come? Contattaci.

Siamo specializzati in consulenza strategica e servizi di sostenibilità aziendale, mercato ed efficienza energetica. Contattaci per la creazione e l’implementazione delle tue strategie di sostenibilità, la valutazione e il miglioramento della performance ambientali, sociali e di governance (ESG), la redazione di bilanci di sostenibilità.


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