Life Cycle Assessment

LCA highlights environmental impact throughout the lifetime of a product. Working with LCA means that all the environmental impacts from the different manufacturing phases have been evaluated. This evaluation is generally split into five phases:

  • Material phase
  • Production phase
  • Transport phase
  • Usage phase
  • Waste phase or after life phase

Life-cycle assessment enables us to provide our customers with information about the environmental impact of our products.

From the same system, we can also provide an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration), which is often requested in projects related to green building standards, where this kind of declaration can support the client in receiving credits. LCA helps to ensure that we do not optimize one process without looking at the whole chain, i.e. the entire life cycle. Additionally, it helps us to gain valuable insights into the areas where we should increase our efforts to reduce our environmental impact. Our LCA model and EPD follows the principles of the ISO 14040 standards for life-cycle assessment. Data are from internationally recognized LCA databases, combined with literature sources and knowledge from Kvadrat and our suppliers. The model is based on the standard EN15804 and is structured according to the EU’s model for product environmental footprint (PEF).  Our EPDs follow recognized standards and the data platform has been developed by a third party. The EPDs are not third party-verified.

These documents are an important tool for anyone wanting to make an informed decision about a textile’s sustainable credentials and our LCA documents are frequently requested by architectural and interior design firms, developers and builders. Here, Andrea Buijs from global construction and development company Skanska, explains how she makes use of them:

In what ways do you use the data from a LCA document when making decisions about textiles?
AB: It depends on the project and its requirements. For example, regarding BREEAM NOR certification (the longest established method of assessing Building sustainability) it could be to carry out a comparative LCA. For ZEB (Zero Emission Buildings) or Powerhouse projects, we collect information regarding the GWP (Global Warming Potential) and CED (Cumulative Energy Demand) of the materials in order to balance the accumulated emissions and energy consumed over the lifetime of the project with the energy production on site.

Of all the information in the LCA, which is especially significant to you and why?
AB: As mentioned above it depends on the project. However, the GWP and CED are especially important impact categories for us. The other impact categories are also used but in secondary evaluations. Technical information (weight, material composition, location for production etc) is also important for the context of the LCA.

Can you give us a specific example of how information from a LCA might impact a building project.
AB: It helps us to meet internal and client requirements. By having specific information about a product we avoid using generic data from different databases and we have the chance to deliver more accurate information. It helps us to choose between materials based on their environmental impact categories in order to deliver a more environmentally friendly final product as well.

What is your opinion on how this kind of transparency of information is helpful for your industry, and ultimately the rest of us?
AB: In order to improve the awareness of environmental issues across the industry it is necessary to have the engagement of all the stakeholders. Having our suppliers on board lets us deliver reliable and transparent information to our clients.