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Understanding the Carbon Footprint of a Product

As a homeowner, have you ever wondered about the environmental impact of the products you use to enhance your living spaces? In this article, we will explore what a carbon footprint is, as well as delve into the significance of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), the reasons driving its creation and the transformative impact it can have on our surroundings.


What is a Carbon Footprint?

Carbon footprint is the measurement of total greenhouse gas emissions generated by a product, from extraction of raw materials to end-of-life. A product’s carbon footprint is measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), also known as embodied carbon.


What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD for short, is a standardized, third-party verified report, which delivers the value and tells the environmental impact story of a product at different points in its life cycle.

Environmental Product Declarations, or EPDs

Why did we create EPDs?

To showcase our leadership in environmental stewardship and sustainability, we have created EPDs to provide full transparency of the environmental impact of our paving stones, slabs and retaining wall units.

Currently, there is a limited pool of information available for direct comparisons; however, it’s important to recognize that this landscape is poised for transformation as time progresses. EPDs stand as a pivotal instrument, facilitating the calculation of comprehensive life-cycle analyses. With their guidance, informed decisions can be made not only for individual components, but for the entirety of the built environment – encompassing diverse settings such as commercial offices, tranquil parks, cherished residential properties, and thriving patio and garden spaces.


What do I do with an EPD number?

When you’re working on an outdoor project, such as adding a pathway, patio or garden area, it’s valuable to consider the emissions associated with the creation of the materials you would use in your project. This is what’s known as “embodied carbon”. Knowing how much embodied carbon goes into producing the products can allow you to select products that are more environmentally friendly and can reduce your carbon footprint. But, there’s more to this than just looking at the numbers; think about how these products will come together in your outdoor space and the system in which it is built.

For example, selecting specific materials for your pathway while incorporating gardens, trees, and composting will facilitate the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint for the overall project. This is a good thing because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Another example of a product that can greatly reduce your carbon footprint are permeable pavers. Permeable pavers are specially designed to allow water to soak into the ground instead of puddling on the surface or creating runoff. This helps not only prevent flooding and filters out contaminants but mitigates the risk of water carrying pollutants back into storm drains and nearby rivers and ponds. This system has so many benefits that it will virtually negate any embodied carbon value for the pavers on the project.


How does Unilock plan to use EPD data to reduce our carbon footprint?

Understanding the results from our EPDs allows Unilock to develop and implement effective strategies to reduce our environmental impact while we enhance our product collections over time. Our sustainable efforts actually started in the 1990s, when we introduced permeable paving to North America and started reducing the amount of cement we use in our products, replacing it with supplementary cementitious materials or cement alternatives. Today, we can replace up to 55 per cent of cement in our products. This is very important as cement alone has a high carbon footprint due to its manufacturing process. There are many changes happening throughout the industry, and today we have a baseline against which we can measure our future improvements.



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