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aquatherm and LEED v4

TN2/10.04.17 What aquatherm‘s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) mean to designers, engineers, and building owners and how the company‘s polypropylene piping systems contribute to LEED v4 points.

Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs)

LCAs provide a comprehensive evaluation of the upstream and downstream energy and environmental impacts associated with a product. They are comprised of five parts: Goal, Scope, Life-Cycle Inventory Analysis, Results, and Interpretation. aquatherm has chosen the gradle-to-gate approach for its LCA „Life Cylce of Polypropylene Pressure Piping Systems“ encompassing the product life cycle from the extraction of raw materials through manufacturing and product distribution.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

The EPD is the document used to convey the LCA’s results to the products’ users and specifiers. It focuses on information about a product’s environmental impact such as global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution, ozone creation, and greenhouse gas emissions.

EPDs typically are verified following the processes described in ISO 14025, EN 15804, and ISO 21930 for construction products. These steps include: 1) Finding or developing a Product Category Rule (PCR); 2) Generating the input data and performing an LCA according to a specific PCR; 3) Compiling information in the EPD; 4) Verification of the EPD and LCA; and 5) Registration and publication.

aquatherm utilized ThinkStep as independent third party to conduct an ISO-conformant LCA for its following product lines: green pipe, blue pipe, lilac pipe, red pipe and the black system for radiant heating and cooling, and red pipe. In the study, one meter (3.2 ft) length of pipe was selected as functional unit per the requirements of the respective PCR “Piping Systems for Use for Sewage and Storm Water (Under Gravity)”. The declared product was defined as a representative average of the five aquatherm product offerings.

Two different test methodologies were chosen to analyze the products in the LCA: Tool for Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts (TRACI) 2.1 and CML 2001, a method developed by the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The TRACI 2.1 method utilized impact categories, including Global Warming Potential (GWP), Acidification Potential (AP), Eutrophication Potential (EP), Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), and Smog Formation Potential (SFP). The results of the findings are summarized in the following.

Environmental impacts and Primary Energy Demand of aquatherm PP-R piping systems according to TRACI 2.1

Upon completion of the aquatherm product-specific LCA, aquatherm submitted its products, the LCA, and supporting documentation for independent verification by NSF International. The verification process included a review by an independent panel of experts, an audit of the manufacturing facilities and records, and a confirmation of material formulations. aquatherm’s Product-Specific Type III third-party verified EPD was published Dec. 18, 2015:

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Within the EPD, you will find information on aquatherm, its product descriptions, data quality requirements, raw-materials origins, a manufacturing diagram, a declaration of parameters per the PCR, and the lifecycle-impact conclusion for aquatherm pipe.

Advantages of PP-R piping systems and radiant panels compared to metall systems

The analysis has shown that polypropylene comprises nearly 50% or more of the impact contribution depending on the impact category. Also Primary Energy Demand (PED) is mainly driven by polypropylene. However, this is because of the embodied energy content of the resin rather than fuel consumption upstream. In other words, aquatherm polypropylene has available energy within the material that can be recovered later in the product’s life cycle during recycling. This differs greatly compared with metals. With metal systems, all of the energy is used in the original processing of the raw material. Metals do not provide energy to the recycling process.

Thus aquatherm PP-R piping systems and radiant panels can provide a more sustainable, lower environmental impact option to designers, engineers, and building owners when compared with other piping and radiant panel systems.

How is aquatherm‘s EPD relevant to LEED v4 points?

LEED stands for „Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design“ and is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998 and has defined various standards for environmentally friendly, resource-saving and sustainable construction.

LEED v4 incorporates point structures to encourage the use of products/ materials that environmentally, economically, and socially support preferable life-cycle impacts. Point structures were developed to reward the selection of products from manufacturers who have verified improved environmental life-cycle impacts.

aquatherm’s green pipe, blue pipe, lilac pipe, red pipe and black system products have attained Type III EPD status through independent verification by NSF International. They now can be utilized as a portion of the 20 permanent products engineers must have throughout their LEED-certified buildings. aquatherm’s EPD also carries double the weight of the Industry-Wide (Generic) EPD in terms of LEED product value and four times the weight of a self-certified Product-Specific Declaration by a manufacturer.

aquatherm has continued its industry leadership position by becoming the first piping manufacturer to have an independently verified, Product-Specific Type III EPD and by supporting building owner to achieve LEED certification.

For further information please see our White Paper. 


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