The difference between generic & specific Green Guide Ratings

Green Guide Ratings

2016 has already been a busy year for our technical staff, with work well underway to support the updating of our Environmental Profile in a new round of product lifecycle assessments (LCAs).

This is just the latest step in a process that has been ongoing since 2002. Back then we were the first insulation manufacturer to openly complete and publish an independently certified Environmental Profile on our products.

Our current Environmental Profile can be viewed by searching for “Kingspan Insulation Ltd” on the Green Book. The certification includes specific BRE Green Guide ratings for our products which raises an important issue. Although the Green Guide Ratings themselves are generally well understood, many are unclear about the distinction between these specific Green Guide ratings, and the generic Green Guide ratings declared for some products.

To explain, we first need to look at how the Green Guide ratings function.

The Green Guide to Specification

The BRE developed the Green Guide to Specification as a means of providing clear and concise information about the environmental impact of differing construction specifications. The specifications are assessed based on environmental impact across their complete lifecycle and are given a score from A+ (lowest impact) to E (greatest impact).

The Green Guide takes an elemental approach, assessing specifications for each section of the building envelope separately (for example: external walls, roofs and ground floors). This allows specifiers and installers to quickly compare constructions and their relative environmental impact.

Crucially, rather than providing ratings for every possible combination of products, the elemental Green Guide ratings are instead generated using LCA data for “generic construction products.” These products are based on technical information from a number of manufacturers using the BRE’s Environmental Profiles Methodology 2008.

Whilst this approach helps to significantly reduce the list of possible specifications, it also means that the actual environmental impact of products and building elements may vary greatly from their generic Green Guide rating. One way manufacturers can close this knowledge gap is with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Environmental Product Declarations

An EPD is defined as a document which “communicates verifiable, accurate, non-misleading environmental information for products and their applications, thereby supporting scientifically based, fair choices and stimulating the potential for market-driven continuous environmental improvement.”

All our EPDs are carried out under the BRE Environmental Profiles Methodology 2008. Consequently, products are provided with a specific, independently verified Green Guide rating.  This rating not only allows specifiers and installers to make more informed decisions when specifying products, it can also be used to upgrade the elemental Green Guide rating within the Materials 1 (Mat 1) section of BREEAM 2014.

In Mat 1, points are awarded to each element based on their generic, area weighted Green Guide rating using the scale shown below:

Elemental Green Guide Rating Points
A+ 3.00
A 2.00
B 1.00
C 0.50
D 0.25
E 0.00

Products backed with independent EPDs can be used to upgrade the generic points by the maximum level shown below:

Elemental Green Guide Rating EPD Tier 1 maximum points uplift EPD Tier 2 maximum points uplift
A+ 1.00 0.75
A 1.00 0.75
B 1.00 0.50
C 0.5 0.25
D 0.25 0.125
E 0 0

Tier 1: 3rd party verified, cradle-to-grave EPD
Tier 2 : 3rd party verified, cradle-to-gate or cradle-to-gate with options EPD

The level of uplift is determined by calculating what proportion of the total mass the EPD supported product represents, whether its EPD is carried out to Tier 1 or Tier 2, and the existing elements Green Guide rating. Products with a high specific Green Guide rating can therefore give a notable boost to their BREEAM ratings.

For more information about how Kingspan Insulation products can contribute towards the award of credits within the BREEAM assessment, view our handy technical bulletin.

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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