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  • Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V.
  • Panoramastraße 1
  • 10178 Berlin
  • http://ibu-epd.com
  • Ansprechpartner
  • Anita Kietzmann
  • +49 (30) 3087748-14

IBU EPDs: Now Digital, Thanks to IBU.data

Verified Life Cycle Assessment Data for Construction Products Is Now Available in Digital Form, Simplifying Access for Users

(lifePR) (Berlin, ) Increasingly, whether in the planning process or in building operation, data needs to be accessed by all those involved in a project. This means that it must be simultaneously available to all participants – ideally, in a format that can be used across all areas of specialisation. Only when this has been achieved, does the potential that digitalisation offers become truly effective. In the construction sector in particular, a great number of different stakeholders are involved, all of whom require large amounts of information from reliable sources in order to be able to efficiently plan, calculate, and evaluate. In the area of sustainable building, EPDs provide an important source of data. Therefore, Europe’s largest EPD programme holder, the Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. (IBU), has, effective immediately, made EPDs available in digital format. The advantage: EPDs that have been published by the IBU are accessible to a vast international group of users for active application in the area of building life cycle assessments.

In the construction sector, EPDs are an industry standard for the uniform documentation and publication of life cycle assessment data. At IBU, the creation, verification, publication, and management processes for EPDs have, for many years now, been carried out with the EPD Online Tool. The data, verified by independent third parties, has then always been available 24/7 online to the public. ‘As a result of the growing number of users and the complexity of the data involved, it no longer sufficed to provide the EPDs solely as PDF documents’, explains Dr Burkhart Lehmann, Managing Director of the IBU. ‘For those who use EPDs to assess building life cycles, we wanted to make their job as easy as possible by providing the data in a compatible format’. With the IBU.data platform, IBU has now gone digital – that is, machine-readable – with their EPDs. What this means is that the EPD data sets can now be applied directly, whether calculating life cycles of building components or those of entire buildings, to determine environmental impact over the course of the entire life cycle.

EPD Data Streamlines the Integral Planning and Life Cycle Assessment of Buildings

IBU.data may be accessed from the IBU website and, using the search and filter functions provided, searches can be narrowed to include only EPDs for a particular product or from a particular manufacturer. There is no charge for accessing this data for informational purposes or for use in calculating life cycle assessments.

At IBU.data, the life-cycle based data from the EPDs created by construction product manufacturers is provided in XML files, which are based on the expanded ILCD format (International Reference Life Cycle Dataset). ‘By taking this approach, we make life easier for auditors and building certification systems as well as for planners and architects’, explains Dr Burkhard Lehmann. This makes it possible, even as early as during the design phase of a building, to select, from an ecological perspective, the ideal combination of building products. Via an interface, and with a license agreement from the IBU, all data can be directly accessed with the appropriate software tools.

IBU.data Compatible with Other Software Tools

IBU.data imports all EPD data from the IBU EPD Online Tool. This direct connection means that IBU.data is always up-to-date with the most current data. As of now, there are nearly 1,200 digital EPDs available to the public, and the number will continue to grow. ‘Thanks to IBU.data, we can publish newly-created EPDs, including digital versions, much more quickly than was previously possible, and we are far less dependent on the specifications and requirements of external database operators’, explains Lehmann.

‘IBU.data is in no way a replacement for ÖKOBAUDAT and does not want to be seen as a competitor. ÖKOBAUDAT remains an important channel for the publication of data, particularly generic data’, stresses Lehmann. In the future, IBU plans to make it possible for manufacturers of building materials and components to make yet more information available in their EPDs. ‘One of our next goals is to be able to make the additional information that is required by international certification systems also available digitally’, explains Lehmann.

The IBU – European Forerunner in Digitisation

With IBU.data, the IBU has established itself as the forerunner of European EPD programme holders who are independently working to make their data available in digital format. This effort stems from a concept from the InData working group (International Open LCA and EPD Data Network for Sustainable Building). The group is pursuing the idea of a network of digital EPD databases that will use XML format and be based on the expanded ILCD provided by the programme holders.

Burkhart Lehmann is convinced that European and international standards offer great potential. This also extends to the Building Information Modelling (BIM) planning method, in which, in the context of the ‘digitisation in the construction industry’, a virtual building model is created, consisting of individual models that have been designed by a variety of experts from different areas, e.g. an architectural model, a structural model, or a building technology model. ‘In our opinion, the issue of ecology must be taken into consideration during the integral planning process by means of a life-cycle-assessment model’, emphasises Burkhart Lehmann. What is needed is the ability to link life cycle assessment data with BIM data for construction products, thereby providing the information needed to assist in the sustainability-minded selection of building parts, structures, and even entire neighbourhoods. IBU.data lays the groundwork for achieving this goal.