Environmental Product Declaration for U.S.-Made Concrete Masonry Products

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Angelus Block Co. Inc. released an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for its concrete masonry units (CMU). Angelus Block is a manufacturer and supplier of CMU products in the Southern California construction industry, servicing a region from the central coast to San Diego.

An EPD is a standardized way of communicating the environmental impacts of a product in a scientifically recognized and compact format. EPDs are currently receiving significant attention as an important first step to achieving product transparency "labels" akin to the nutrition information found on food products.

Sustainable design, as a movement – and in some cases a mandate – to construct buildings that minimize impacts to environmental and human health, continues to grow and evolve. LCAs and/or EPDs have contributing roles in green rating systems such as LEED, Green Globes, and The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), and by state and local codes such as California's CALGreen.

USGBC's pending launch this month of the latest generation of its rating systems, known as LEED v4, is already moving the needle with several new credit requirements that include product EPDs. The new credits introduce several options and reporting requirements for demonstrating transparency in materials. Building product manufacturers that wish to remain in the green arena are assessing how to comply.

Angelus Block is the first U.S. CMU producer to publish an EPD. It includes a substantial set of 69 individual mix designs for products from each of their seven CMU manufacturing locations in and beyond the Los Angeles metroplex.

"We were looking to provide more than a single-product report," says Edward Antonini, president of Angelus Block. "We knew we needed to cover multiple materials, unit sizes and configurations to have our core products fully represented. Our market includes many high-profile design firms dedicated to green leadership, so we felt the standard should be higher and greater detail would be appropriate."

The more rigorous requirements of LEED v4 also present a challenge to architects in identifying materials that not only contribute to the green goals of a project, but are also within a pragmatic distance.

"A design firm's skill in creating buildings, and harnessing all the tools available to deliver green value for its clients, ultimately gets translated into physical materials," says Rick Martin, director of sustainability, Perkowitz+Ruth Architects. "Angelus Block represents an essential building product, and we appreciate them taking a lead role in the new material disclosure paths. We design with masonry on many projects, so it's great to know producers like Angelus are already supporting some of the new requirements."

Angelus Block's EPD is available for download at www.angelusblock.com/docs/Angelus_Block_EPD.pdf. The initial release is an internally verified report. A Type III, third-party verified report is planned and pending the adoption of a CMU-specific Product Category Rule (PCR) currently in development. A PCR provides instructions for data and reporting in the creation of an EPD.

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