Water & Environment

Verification Service Helps Communicate Product Environmental Impact

WSP USA is offering a verification service that helps clients communicate the environmental impact of their products.

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Julie Sinistore, project director for the sustainability and energy team in San Francisco, was recently certified as an individual Environmental Product Declarations (EPD®) verifier by The International EPD® system, a global program for environmental declarations based on ISO 14025 and EN 15804.

Until now, WSP has supported clients with preparation of EPD documents, which are then sent to be independently verified for their accuracy. Sinistore’s certification takes the firm’s EPD services one step further.

“Now we are able to not only generate EPDs for a client, but if another provider creates an EPD for that client, we are certified to verify it,” Sinistore said.

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Julie Sinistore

With this certification, Sinistore can verify EPDs and participate as a moderator in the creation of Product Category Rules (PCRs) which are required to create EPDs for specific product categories, such as concrete, rebar, pipes, doors and other construction products. The Sweden-based International EPD System® maintains one of the largest online databases of EPDs.

Sinistore said her designation as one of a handful of verifiers in the U.S. adds to the firm’s credibility and qualifications in the world of EPDs. She had to meet rigorous standards and demonstrate significant experience in conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), generating EPDs and providing critical feedback.

An EPD is a verified and registered document that shows the life-cycle environmental impact of products. Having an EPD does not imply that the declared product is environmentally superior to alternatives, but it does provide a transparent declaration for customers who need confirmation of a product’s environmental impact from start to finish.

Valuable Contributions

The WSP water and environment sector and buildings sector will work together to provide EPD verification and related services.

“The sustainability and energy team within water and environment will be able to deliver these services, with the buildings team leveraging the offering, because EPDs are valuable contributions to the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEEDv4 [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] standards,” Sinistore said.

The new LEEDv4 standard, which took effect in October of 2016, offers up to four points towards a project’s overall score for LCA-related work. “The first point can be earned if 20 different products from five different manufacturers in the building have EPDs,” Sinistore said.

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WSP is working on whole building life-cycle assessments at two light rail stations San Francisco International Airport where environmental product declarations (EPDs) will be used.

New construction can qualify for another LEEDv4 point for doing a whole building LCA (WBLCA), which relies heavily on EPDs for the environmental impact data required to conduct the WBLCA. Two additional points can be earned if the new construction design reduces global warming potential and two other impact categories by 10 percent without increasing other environmental impacts by five percent.

“We are currently conducting WBLCAs on projects, including two light rail stations at San Francisco International Airport,” Sinistore said. She also worked with Calie Gihl, engineer, to complete the modeling for the WBLCA using Tally®, a plug-in to the building information modeling software application Revit, which streamlines the process of completing a WBLCA.

She added that her team is helping to produce procurement documents that are not associated with LEED certification projects, certified through the LEED program of the U.S. Green Building Council, but will require EPDs.

“Even if sustainability is not the primary driver for a project, many clients understand that not having an EPD for their materials may become a barrier to entry for large and high-profile projects,” Sinistore said. “Providing EPDs for all of the materials in a project is a way to increase the transparency around the environmental impacts of materials.”

Another goal is to connect with projects to provide EPD verification services on projects outside the U.S.

“We are working to collaborate across offices in the U.S., UK, and Australia to conduct internationally recognized EPDs,” Sinistore said. The firm also has EPD verification capability in the UK. 


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