AHEC launch the American Hardwood Environmental Profile
American hardwood industry becomes the first sector to provide environmental life cycle data with every consignment
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and PE International have together developed a system to allow U.S. hardwood exporters to provide a comprehensive American Hardwood Environmental Profile (AHEP) with every individual consignment of product delivered to any market in the world. The system is currently being pilot tested by U.S. hardwood exporting companies.
Each AHEP combines output from the AHEC/PE Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) project underway for the last 2 years, with information derived from other credible data sources to demonstrate the legality and sustainability of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer delivered into export markets. These data sources include:
• The U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, a Federal Government program which regularly monitors the condition of the nation's forests.
• The independent peer-reviewed “Assessment of Lawful Harvesting and Sustainability of U.S. Hardwood Exports” commissioned by AHEC from Seneca Creek Associates LLC. The study demonstrates a negligible risk of any U.S. hardwood being derived from illegal logging or other controversial forest sources.
• The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Risk Register, a free source of information on the risk of sourcing controversial timber throughout the world covering more than 150 countries.
The structure and content of the AHEPs align to the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation and closely follow the European Commission’s informal "Guidance Document for the EU Timber Regulation" issued in February 2013. The AHEP provides, for every consignment, access to information on the name of the U.S. supplier, product description, quantity of wood, commercial and scientific species name, place of harvest, and documents demonstrating negligible risk of illegal harvest.
In addition, the AHEP provides access to information on the sustainability of the U.S. hardwood species contained in the consignment, together with quantitative data on the environmental impacts associated with delivering each specific consignment to an individual customer.
The data covers the main environmental impact categories required by manufacturers to prepare formal Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in line with the EN 15804 standard for environmental assessment of construction materials in the EU (such as Global Warming Potential, Acidification potential, and Eutrophication potential).
A key aim of the project is to ensure that credible environmental data specific to individual consignments – adjusted according to key parameters such as hardwood species, kilning time and transport routes and modes – can be delivered quickly and efficiently without significant cost.
In achieving this aim, the AHEP concept builds on PE’s "GaBi Envision" software tool developed to easily communicate environmental impacts and integrate LCA into the product design process. Individual U.S. hardwood companies are given on-line access to the software tool to allow preparation of profiles for their own wood export consignments.
Each environmental profile for U.S. sawn hardwood is specific to an individual species and users are able to select from any one of 19 U.S. hardwoods which together account for over 95% of all U.S. hardwood production. For each species they are also able to select from a wide range of different transport scenarios which can accurately describe delivery to every major export region around the world.
In announcing the project, AHEC’s European Director said “through this project, U.S. hardwood suppliers will be the first wood suppliers, possibly the first suppliers of any mainstream commercial material, to provide comprehensive environmental impact data with every delivery”.
Venables emphasises the wider implications: “The provision of data tailored individually to each consignment would have been unheard of only a few years ago. However, considerable progress has been made in recent years by PE International and other LCA experts, to develop the databases and computer modelling tools needed to make it possible.
AHEC has combined this expertise with the U.S. hardwood industry’s knowledge of sustainable forestry, wood processing and distribution, together with the work carried out over many years by U.S. agencies to monitor the forest resource. The resulting American Hardwood Environmental Profile will be a unique tool which we believe has great potential to assist EU customers to conform to new regulations and to improve environmental performance in product design and construction”, says Venables.
Notes to Editors
For more press information, please contact:
American Hardwood Export Council
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7626 4111
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7626 4222
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the US hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among US hardwood companies and all the major US hardwood production trade associations. AHEC concentrates its efforts on providing architects, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply.
PE INTERNATIONAL is the international market leader in strategic consultancy, software solutions and extensive services in the field of sustainability. PE regularly prepares Environmental Product Declarations for a wide range of clients and guaranties highest quality due to an internal EPD-quality management and a standardized approach. PE INTERNATIONAL provides decision-making aid for sustainable product development with customized tools based on the leading LCA software GaBi.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) requires all operators that first place timber on the EU market to implement a due diligence system (DDS) to minimize the risk of any illegal wood entering their supply chains. The EUTR goes some way to define the content of the DDS, for example it must include risk assessment and mitigation procedures, and “access to information” on the composition and sources of wood products. The latter information includes the species composition of all wood products, country of harvest and “where applicable” more detailed information on “concession of harvest”, and “documents or other information indicating compliance of those timber and timber products with the applicable legislation”. To drive implementation of the DDS, EUTR imposes a prohibition on operators trading products derived from illegally harvested timber within the EU. For more information:
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) – referred to in ISO standards as a Type III environmental declaration - includes information supplied to both industrial and private consumers. It provides quantified environmental product information for the entire life cycle of a product, issued by a supplier. It is based on independently verified, systematic data and is presented as parameters in a set of categories describing the environmental performance of the product or the service. It is relevant to all products and presents the information in a format that facilitates comparison between products. ISO 14025:2006 establishes the principles and specifies the procedures for developing Type III environmental declaration programmes and Type III environmental declarations. EN 15804 provides core rules for the creation of EPDs for building products and materials in the EU.
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