SDI Opens the Door to Greater Environmental Transparency

Published in the June 2018 issue of Door Security + Safety magazine

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You may not be able to see through steel doors, but they are about to become a whole lot more transparent. Environmentally, that is.

The Steel Door Institute (SDI), an industry association representing manufacturers of steel doors, has commissioned third-party certifier SCS Global Services (SCS) to prepare the first industry-wide LEED®-compliant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). In this instance, EPDs will be prepared for two products: heavy duty flush panel steel doors made with a polystyrene core, and 5-3/4” 16-gauge steel prime painted steel door frames.

EPDs are independently verified declarations of the potential environmental impacts associated with products. These impacts are determined based upon a life cycle assessment (LCA) – a mass balance of natural resources and energy used, and emissions and wastes released. In this case, the assessment will be “cradle-to-gate”, that is, covering impacts from the time raw materials are extracted from the ground until the door manufacturing is completed and readied for shipment.

The US Green Building Council began encouraging EPDs in October 2013 under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED v4). To earn credit, the LCA and EPD must be prepared in conformance with international standards ISO 14025, 14040, 14044, and EN 15804 or ISO 21930. The Materials and Resources (MR) Credit, “Building Product Disclosures and Optimization – LEED V4 Environmental Product Declarations,” recognizes products that have either an industry-wide or manufacturer-specific EPD. According to LEED v4:

  • Industry-wide (generic) EPD — Products with third-party certification (Type III), including external verification, in which the manufacturer is explicitly recognized as a participant by the program operator are valued as one half (1/2) of a product for purposes of credit achievement calculation.
  • Product-specific Type III EPD — Products with third-party certification (Type III), including external verification in which the manufacturer is explicitly recognized as the participant by the program operator are valued as one whole product for purposes of credit achievement calculation.

While manufacturer-specific EPDs have greater point value, industry-wide EPDs are important because they enable individual manufacturers to benchmark their performance through comparison of their own EPD to the industry average. Benchmarking can provide feedback to the manufacturer as to how they compare with their peers, and also provides a pathway for products with lower impacts to receive additional credit under the LEED framework.

“We go to great lengths to ensure the quality of the doors manufactured by our member companies through rigorous laboratory testing and standards development,” said Jeff Wherry, SDI Managing Director. “Providing our members with an industry-wide EPD for these products is a logical next step that adds value to their products, and supports their benchmarking and improvement efforts.” Additionally, individual members will be able to move forward on manufacturer-specific EPDs at a far lower cost, he added.

SDI engaged SCS, a global pioneer in Type III environmental product labeling and leading building product certifier, to conduct the independent assessment. Once this assessment process is completed, the EPDs will be verified and available for use by the summer of 2018. The EPDs will be registered with SCS EPD program, with reports available on the SCS Green Products Guide and the SDI website.

photo of pair of modern-looking black steel doors with large single pane of glass leading to a room, one door is open