In researching available MEP EPDs, I found reference to the PEP Ecopassport database in the CISBE TM65 appendices. Having spent some time snooping around the database, I recognize this is for European equipment, and many of the PEPs are in French. That said, I was very surprised to see a database of 150+ heat pumps, 360 pieces of HVAC-R equipment, and 2400+ total PEPs for electric, electronic, and HVAC-R equipment - especially as I’ve not yet heard reference to these in the Forums, blogs, articles, or other commentary about the quest for MEP data.
Is anyone in North America referencing this in any way? Is it all irrelevant to us given the European focus, or are there some baseline GWP values that can be established for any of this equipment given this data set? Is this any less useful than relying on TM65 data for near-term “placeholder” values? I’m guessing that unless you are in Europe using this equipment (and in many cases reading French), this resource isn’t directly applicable, but I was surprised to see thousands of environmental impact transparency documents that haven’t been referenced elsewhere in the US/Canadian conversations I’ve been in, when we are all so hungry for data.
Thanks in advance for any insights. Happy Solstice and enjoy the longest or shortest day of the year, depending on your hemisphere!
Hi Jacob, as you stated- Eco Passport and PEPs are a wealth of information for MEP products, I’ve found them to be really useful as stand-ins while North American MEP manufacturers get their EPD-act together (much better than TM65 estimates!) The one cautionary tale I would give is being careful with translations for some products - they’re not necessarily 1:1 to US based naming conventions for some products, and scaling for some products doesn’t necessarily make sense, so sometimes I’ll scale by mass rather than the declared unit stated to make it make sense (if an AHU is 100kg rather than 10,000kg for example).
Hi Kayleigh - thanks for this feedback, super helpful! I’m glad to hear there is a practical application for this data as an intermediary data source. Great tip to confirm relative weight and scale accordingly, thanks for that. Has anyone established averages for given equipment types, given the quantity and diversity of PEPs available? For example, an industry average kg CO2e/kg (unit weight) for AHUs of a given capacity range? Cheers!
All of those EU EPDs are being driven by EU legislation which has imposed some near-term deadlines.
Allow me to share some things I have learned in my involvement creating EPDs for ventilation products manufactured in the EU for the North American market:
- Geographic Scope - If a French MEP manufacturer mainly ships Product XYZ to customers in France, and creates an EPD with a Geographic Scope = “France”, the carbon footprint for Product XYZ shipping to Seattle will be different and likely lower.
- Availability of an MEP product made in the EU with an EPD doesn’t mean there is a similar product available in North America. If a Dutch manufacturer manufactures Product WXY, and that product has a “Global” geographic scope, it does not mean that Product WXY has UL/ETL/etc safety certifications valid in the USA. The risk is that the placeholder product ends up in the specification, and on bid day, no equivalent product can be found for the North American market.
Thanks for these insights Mike! This all makes sense, except the statement “If a French MEP manufacturer mainly ships Product XYZ to customers in France, and creates an EPD with a Geographic Scope = “France”, the carbon footprint for Product XYZ shipping to Seattle will be different and likely lower.” Should that last word be “higher”, assuming there are greater emissions associated with the longer transport distances? Just wanted to make sure I’m not missing something here…
Ah, right! Shipping outside of France in this case may result in a higher carbon footprint. It all depends on the distance and mode of transportation. A diesel truck from the factory to a jobsite across France is different than truck to port, Port-to-port via ship, then port to jobsite, for example.
hi @jacobracusin great you’re looking into this. We relied heavily on the PEP database for some research in Rwanda. Results varied significantly from TM65 estimate x10 higher in some cases and 1/2 as much in other cases. There is still a significant lack of data in some areas too and identifying Functionally Equivalent systems was difficult. Happy to share any more information.
TM65.2 is coming out at some point, being led by Elementa, and has some great graphs showing the huge variation in manufacturer data.
At that time, for my work, refrigerant leakage dominated all the results due to the lack of availability of low GWP options so we were less concerned about getting the equipment spot on
Thanks for this! Very helpful, and corroborates some of my initial poking and others’ reports on data variability. It sounds like there is movement on better data availability coming from a few fronts now, it will be interesting to see how quickly this landscape improves, and how quickly the lower-GWP refrigerants migrate through the equipment stack particularly in the US. Thanks for sharing your experiences, I appreciate it! I’ll follow up directly for details on your methodology.
Glad to hear you found that in the TM65 Appendices!
As MEP supply chains are generally pretty global, my understanding is that where no EPD exists in the North American context, PEP’s can be considered relevant and I am certainly referencing PEP’s when available and suitable, with an uncertainly layer. The key barrier is certainly a person’s fluency in French - technical documents all to often go well beyond the level of French even (non-Quebecois) Canadians learn in school.
And agreed with Kayleigh that they are better datapoints than TM65 estimates, but that is because (again, per my understanding, which is likely not perfect) PEP’s are done to the ISO 14025 / EN 15804 standards, making them effectively EPD’s, and so are much more rigorous datapoints that take much more time to produce. As the point of CIBSE TM65 is to provide a stepping stone or path to an ecosystem where we have EPDs for more/all elements, this isnt a problem (as TM65 doesnt seek to replace EPDs, but rather to drive demand for them).
One additional point to note - while Mechanical / Plumbing components are generally pretty similar across the Atlantic (Air and Water don’t behave that differently in North America vs Europe), the differences in Electrical components is sometimes much more complicated, as the different voltages make it tricky to distinguish what is functionally equivalent. That’s in addition to Kayleigh’s great comment about the naming conventions as a cautionary tale - It’s a challenge that we didn’t realize was so complex until we were in the middle of a project (and the Aussie’s call certain things a third name…)
Thanks for this input! Great to get a sense of the relative value of PEPs vs TM65 estimates, all makes good sense and matches my perception when comparing data for the English language PEPs with the TM65 basic and mid-level data (and also clear from the methodology behind TM65 vs ISO 14025). Yes, je pense que mon français n’est pas suffisant…although I know some Francophones who may be able to help with translation as needed. Great note on the NA vs EU electrical protocols and the associated difficulties in functional equivalents - that seems to be a consistent theme in the feedback, I appreciate it!
Part of my research involves identifying preliminary steps towards accounting methodology. There are versions of this in which placeholders are used for MEP equipment, at least as defaults, to hold values for whole building carbon accounting. There are versions in which product-level data is deployed to inform equipment selection; it’s clear there are differences in emissions between different units, and certainly across different system types, but it’s questionable if the data is there for HVAC equipment to conduct accurate product-level comparative analysis. The refrigerant impacts seem pretty reliable to quantify, and are actionable in unit specification - it seems reasonable that one could quantify refrigerant mass, type, and apply an ASHRAE or equiv leakage rate to evaluate the refrigerant emissions difference between a monobloc A2W system with hydronic distribution and a VRF system, however there would likely be a greater level of uncertainty in the embodied carbon impacts between the equipment based on data quality and comparability.
Exciting times in the world of carbon accounting Thanks to you all for the great feedback!