Every day environmental issues are in the news headlines, reminding us how big of a responsibility is upon our shoulders as consumers and citizens of this earth. The challenge is striking a balance between our daily human needs and finding a way to preserve the world for future generations. Our basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – must be met, but more and more people are realizing the environmental impact of the products we use.
When it comes to our need for shelter, the building industry is taking heed by coming up with great innovations that reduce carbon emissions and the environmental footprint in general. In recent years, there have been several major advancements in the window industry. Manufacturers left and right have been competing to come up with the best, most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly products. But since not all products are created equal, how do consumers know if the product they’re buying is the real deal, or if its special features are nothing more than marketing hype?
Fortunately, when it comes to windows, there’s an environmental standard for window manufacturers around the world. To benefit from this standard, you will need to know how to read and understand what your product labels are telling you.
What Are Environmental Product Declarations?
According to the International Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) System, EPDs are third-party verified documents that accurately report the environmental data on products. A product’s life cycle is assessed and, using a standardized method, the overall impact of a product or system upon the environment is quantified. The standards of EPDs are in accordance with the international standard ISO 14025 (Type III Environmental Declarations).
All this may sound a little too technical for the average consumer, but what the system essentially does is reduce the confusion about the terms and accuracy of environmental claims that manufacturers place on their product labels. The system only accepts claims that have supporting data and can be independently verified. Claims such as “environmentally friendly,” according to the system, are too vague and should be avoided.
Why Windows Should Have EPD Certification
Window manufacturers from all over the world claim that their products are made using recent technological advancements. It is also common for fenestration companies to claim that the products are energy-efficient and therefore environmentally-friendly.
The information on the labels may or may not be true. Unfortunately, consumers have grown weary of such claims because many so-called “environmentally-friendly” products end up being nothing more than a big disappointment. After all, how can regular consumers measure the eco-friendliness of a product?
Checking the information on different product labels tends to be confusing because manufacturers have the liberty to use their own terminology when describing the environmental benefits of their products.
How EPD Certification Can Improve the Window Industry
Most products today are marketed as energy-efficient. Manufacturers use terms such as Low-E insulated glass, with some filled with gases like argon or krypton. The insulation abilities of the products may in fact be true – the question is, are they also environmentally friendly as claimed?
If all manufacturers in the window industry were to follow EPD standards, it would benefit consumers in at least two ways.
- Consumers are familiarized with the correct terminology used to describe the environmental benefits of the products.
- Consumers are assured that the manufacturers’ claims have been verified by an independent body.
As it stands today, consumers have become so confused about the different environmental claims that they find it difficult to sort out the false from the real claims, which makes it almost impossible to compare different products. By adhering to International EPD standards, window manufacturers can bring back the trust of consumers when it comes to their dedication to environmental protection.
EPDs significantly reduce consumer confusion and also act as a guide for window manufacturers when seeking ways to improve their products. EPDs also drastically reduce the amount of false claims in the industry, which can help customers and homeowners get the most value for their money and investment. They can rest easy, knowing that their homes are designed to help conserve the environment.
As a window replacement consultant for Renewal by Andersen® of Omaha and Lincoln, Jim Brummel is passionate about sharing what he knows about windows with residential and commercial property owners. When he’s not out helping clients make smart window replacement decisions, Jim likes to write educational articles and read home improvement industry news.