Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

2016 SM Transparency Report™ / EPD Framework: Aligning, and aligned with, the industry

By Sustainable Minds on May 6, 2016

Sustainable Minds®, a B2B cloud provider of environmental product transparency applications, services and data, has introduced the 2016 SM Transparency Report™ / EPD Framework bringing major advancements to the process of creating and delivering environmental product transparency reports.

Since the Program’s inception in 2014, the goal has been to reduce creation time and costs while increasing usefulness and value. The SM Transparency Report™, Sustainable Minds’ brand of EPD, is designed to inform greener purchase decisions by making LCA and environmental performance information understandable and meaningful, in three pages, in the cloud. They are strategic marketing tools that turn disclosure into brand value by integrating product transparency into product marketing to build a credibly greener brand.

In 2015, Sustainable Minds became the first program operator to introduce a 2-part product category rule (PCR) process created for the North American market. The SM Transparency Report™/EPD Framework is comprised of two documents, which together, constitute a complete PCR:
Part A: LCA calculation rules and report requirements
Part B: Product group definitions

Systems thinking and customer experience are at the core of all Sustainable Minds products and services. A key tenet of the Program, as provided for in the Governance and program rules, is to allow for continual improvements to stay current and aligned with changes in standards, industry needs and customer needs based on learning and engagement. Part A is updated annually.

About the 2016 release

2016 updates include changes in support of:

  • Aligning Program Operator Consortium member programs
  • Harmonization with standards and industry
  • Comprehensive and standardized reporting
  • Data transparency

Aligning Program Operator Consortium member programs

  1. Program Operator Consortium members have aligned their programs to SM Part A. One common set of LCA rules and reporting requirements means:
    • Streamlined, standardized and consistent methods for creating new and updating expiring PCRs
    • More cost and time-efficient LCA and TR/EPD verification processes
    • Manufacturers have a choice of ISO 14025 Type III environmental declarations – SM Transparency Reports or traditional EPDs. Part A: Appendix C is content requirements for a Transparency Report – and now also for an EPD.

Part A, Appendix C: SM Transparency Report™ / EPD content requirements (page 61-64)
Adhering to ISO 14025, section 7.2 Declaration content, Transparency Report content requirements are prescriptive to enable a standardized format and presentation. Given the commitment to create concise and useful reports, any and all LCA information included in the report must pass the test of reporting and/or understanding the environmental impacts and/or how the manufacturing is making improvements.

Harmonization with standards and industry

  1. Part A 2016 conforms to the Guidance for Product Category Rule Development, v1.0, established by the Product Category Rule Guidance Development Initiative. This guidance was developed by the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) PCR subcommittee as a result of discussions in multi-stakeholder organizations such as the PCF World Forum’s PCR Roundtable and Taskforce, the ACLCA PCR Committee and workshops such as the PCR Alignment Special Session in the LCA XI conference.

    It was developed on the premise that the guidance would be the shared product of all organizations wishing to take part in its development and that it would be international and voluntary. There were 55 participants from 44 organizations in this collaborative group effort.

  2. SM Transparency Report verification validity period extended to five years (page 19, section 5.3).
    The verification validity period is extended from three to five years to align with common practice by other program operators.

  3. Reporting module D (benefits and loads beyond the system boundary) is optional (page 17, section 5.1).
    Using the CEN EN 15804:2012+A1 system boundary framework, life cycle stage Module D includes reuse, recovery and/or recycling potentials, expressed as net impacts and benefits. The standard states that if relevant information is provided at the product level on Module D, this information should be reported. Since this information is considered supplementary, it is optional for a full cradle-to-grave LCA.

  4. Reporting toxicity and human health impact categories is optional (page 40, section 9.1).
    Reporting the toxicity and human health impact categories is optional. The value of reporting these categories is in debate in the LCA industry and they are not required by ISO 14025.

  5. Adding SM Single Score results in addition to characterized results is optional (page 42, section 9.2).
    The SM Impact Assessment Methodology is a single figure LCA that combines the inventory calculation and the proceeding assessment calculations in one multiplication factor. They are used in a Transparency Report as an illustration to help make the LCA results more understandable to LCA non-experts as to where in the lifecycle the greatest impacts are occurring and what is causing them. Learn about SM Single Score results >

Comprehensive and standardized reporting

  1. Part A: Compatibility appendices – create a Transparency Report using any existing PCR
    The Part A compatibility appendices are designed to easily create an SM Transparency Report using an existing PCR or to optionally be compliant with other international standards. They ensure that manufacturers are using the same LCA calculation rules and reporting the same content as specified in the PCR; just the format of the Type III environmental declaration is different. This release includes compatibility appendices for:

    • International standards
      • ISO 21930
      • CEN EN 15804:2012+A1
    • PCRs
      • ULE: Parts A and B for Sanitary Ceramics
      • ASTM: Portland and Other Cements
      • NSF: Architectural Coatings
      • NSF: Flooring
      • IERE: Cradle to Gate Windows

    See the pilot example Transparency Report: TOTO Undercounter Lavatory ­– verified by NSF to ULE’s PCR Parts A and B for Sanitary Ceramics. Download the PDF to see page 4. Maintaining the commitment to concise reports, Page 4 is delivered only in the PDF and not in the live 3-page Transparency Report. Page 4 was designed to include all the additional content required by the PCR that is NOT required in a Transparency Report.

  2. Optional inclusion of a carbon footprint using the GHG Protocol (page 41, section 9.1).
    Including the option for manufacturers to report the product’s carbon footprint makes it easier for specifiers and purchasers to make decisions using information they care about. Using a globally recognized methodology makes it standardized.

    Optional inclusion of a water footprint using CEN EN 15804:2012+A1 or the GHG Protocol (page 41, section 9.1).
    Including the option for manufacturers to report the product’s water footprint makes it easier for specifiers and purchasers to make decisions using information they care about. Using a globally recognized methodology makes it standardized.

Data transparency

  1. Specification of the representative year and % contribution from each data set (page 35, section 7.6).
    The background report must indicate the datasets used, including the year from which the dataset is representative and the percent contribution from each data set.

  2. Specification of % primary vs secondary data used to model each life cycle stage (page 35, section 7.6).
    The background report must indicate the percent primary data used and the percent secondary data used. This may be reported by stating that 100% primary data is used for gate to gate manufacturing and that 100% secondary data is used for all other modules.

We invite your comments. All comments received by October 31, 2016 will be included in the annual Part A review and update. Download the Part A 2016 review form >

Technical Advisory Board (TAB) update

The TAB is the dedicated group who oversees the implementation of the SM Transparency Report™ / EPD Framework now aligned with the programs of all Program Operator Consortium members. Members are invited to have representation on the TAB.

The most recent addition to the TAB is Carrie Pearson, Life Cycle Assessment Supervisor at 3M; and the new TAB chair is Jim Mellentine, Senior Manager, Sustainability at Ramboll Environ. More about the TAB >

We invite manufacturers, industry organizations, LCA providers and interested parties to contact us about the benefits of working with Sustainable Minds to create PCRs and SM Transparency Reports. Learn more >

Interested in being notified about Part B public comment open consultation periods and other SM Transparency Report / EPD Program news? Sign up >

Learn more about the evolution of the SM Transparency Report™ Framework & Program:

Nov 19, 2013
  New SM Transparency Reports™ Facilitate and Accelerate Greener Product Purchase Decisions, Alternative to EPDs
Jun 17, 2014  Sustainable Minds launches the SM Transparency Report™ Program
Oct 08, 2014  The SM Transparency Report™ Program: A step change innovation in the PCR/EPD process
Feb 26, 2015 Sustainable Minds introduces the 2015 SM Transparency Report™ Framework and Program
Nov 17, 2015 Creating SM Transparency Reports using any PCR
Feb 15, 2016  Modular product transparency – have it your way. Part 1: Environmental performance reporting