Belgium is preparing a legislation which will establish rules for environment messages concerning construction products. This legislation will apply to all construction products which are offered in, or launched onto the market in Belgium. The law is effective from 1st January 2015.

Caution! You are only obliged to carry out an LCA if you want to include an environment message on your product! If you do not apply an environment message, then neither a life-cycle analysis, nor an environmental product declaration is legally obligatory.

What is changing?

If you want to apply an environment message on the construction product, you will first have to draw up a life-cycle analysis (LCA), or an environmental product declaration (EPD). Currently, a manufacturer may also apply declarations concerning the environment on his product, which are not based on an LCA approach. We want to change this.

Environmental product declarations are a standardised way of communicating environment information. For this, first of all a life-cycle analysis (LCA) is carried out. The rules are based on existing European and international standards (EN ISO 14021, EN 15804 etc.).

How do you carry out an LCA or life-cycle analysis?

This is no simple procedure. For the complete life-cycle of your product you look at the possible global impact on the environment. In other words: from the exploration of the raw materials, the transport of the raw materials, the production process, the transport to the Belgian market, the use and maintenance until the final waste processing of the product. Possible impacts are climatic change, ozone formation, acidification and eutrophication. For carrying out an LCA, as manufacturer you need to know both the input and output raw materials.

What are the benefits?
- to get a complete and objective insight into the environmental impact of your product.
- To also get a better insight into your production process, as a consequence of which you can draw up pathways of improvement.

Improvements for the environment also often lead to cost savings.
The great advantage of an EPD for the consumer, principal? or architect, is, that it is very transparent. You will obtain information as to which institute has executed the LCA, which product is involved, whether the data have been verified or not, …

Databank with environment information

In 2014, Belgium will also have a federal databank available with environment information on construction products. The manufacturers and branch organisations deliver this information. These actions support the evaluation of the environmental impact of buildings.

- More information about the environmental impact of buildings can be found for Flanders at the “Openbare Vlaamse Afvalstoffenmaatschappij” (OVAM, Public Waste Agency of Flanders);
- for Brussels at the “Brussels Instituut voor Milieubeheer“(BIM, Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment)
- for Wallonia at the “Portail de l’énergie en Wallonie” (Energy Portal in Wallonia, available in French and German).