Life Cycle Assessment tools — including those employed in analyzing life-cycle impacts of gypsum products — use environmental, costing and human health criteria to compare building materials and building systems.
Life cycle tools typically take two forms: They examine the financial life-cost of a material or system or appraise the environmental impact of a material or system. A life-cycle cost analysis evaluates the cost to produce a material or construct a system and the cost of maintaining and replacing the material or system. Future costs are calculated in today’s currency values to ensure an objective analysis. Gypsum panel products fare extremely well in life-cycle cost analyses due to their low in-place construction cost and long life-span. Building systems finished with gypsum-based products typically require minimal routine maintenance and are repaired easily, and without extensive or costly procedures. Installed and maintained in a proper environment, gypsum panel products will perform acceptably for many decades.
Several environmental analysis tools are now available and most can incorporate gypsum panel products into their process. The tools evaluate a variety of comparative parameters for materials and systems, including embodied energy, global warming potential, resource use, and pollution caused by or created by the material during its manufacturing process or anticipated life span. Under most contemporary green building programs, a plan identifying the expected life span of installed materials and systems will earn building life service credits. In addition, most green building programs reward the use of products that are supported by documents transparently reporting environment impacts.
Assuming normal conditions, gypsum panels and gypsum plaster have an expected service life well in excess of 50 years. In addition, gypsum’s inherent fire-resistance characteristics help protect buildings and building systems from damage in the event of a fire or heat-related incident.
The Gypsum Association is pleased to share these life cycle assessment tools:
Product Category Rules
A product category rules (PCR) document provides a common set of specific rules, requirements, and guidelines for the development of an environmental product declaration (EPD)that aligns with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards 14025 Environmental labels and declarations and ISO 21930 Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works – Core rules for environmental product declarations of construction products and services. In addition, it lays out the underlying requirements for a life cycle assessment (LCA).
Life Cycle Assessment Reports
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analytical tool used to comprehensively quantify and interpret the energy and material flow to and from the environment over the life cycle of a product, process, or service. Environmental flows include emissions to air, water, and land, as well as the consumption of energy and material resources. By quantifying these environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle, LCA provides a comprehensive environmental profile of the product and a more accurate picture of the true environmental trade-offs in product selection. The following Gypsum Association industry average LCA reports conform to the ISO 14040 series of LCA standards:
Environmental Product Declarations
The Gypsum Association has released two externally verified, Type III environmental product declarations (EPDs) for gypsum panel products. These North American documents provide vital environmental performance information addressing energy consumption, water consumption, global warming, waste, air emissions and other metrics related to production. Type “X” core material was selected for the Association’s initial EPD because it is commonly used in multifamily and commercial construction—sectors with the most pressing need for green building tools. The second EPD effort was aimed at glass mat gypsum panels, due to the rapidly expanding use of exterior gypsum sheathing in multifamily, mixed-use, and commercial construction sectors.