Case study

How Hydrotec completed 29 EPDs in two months with One Click LCA's EPD Generator

How Hydrotec completed 29 EPDs in two months with One Click LCA's EPD Generator

EPDs: What they are, how to create them, and why they're critical for manufacturing

Hear how the German water treatment manufacturer brought their EPD creation in-house to scale their product carbon transparency.

“Using EPDs is step one of the process of becoming more environmentally friendly. By creating EPDs, we are making life easier for our customers, by providing the information they need for end users, helping them win business."     

– Prina Lakhani, Administrative Assistant, Hydrotec

Hydrotec bringing sustainability to the forefront of water treatment manufacturing with EPD Generator

Hydrotec, a One Click LCA EPD Generator customer, is a German industrial water treatment company, providing equipment for scale control, bacteria control, water filtration, bespoke projects, and maintenance contracts. Hydrotec works with a variety of buildings, large and small, operating globally for over 30 years with offices in 37 countries across Europe, Australia, the USA, and the MENA region

Prina Lakhani, Administrative Assistant at Hydrotec, explains how environmental product declarations (EPDs) are enabling the company to move their carbon transparency forward, and why it made sense to embed EPD creation into their existing workflow.


What drove Hydrotec to start creating EPDs for products with EPD Generator?


There are a number of reasons why we have started using EPDs. First, for research. Knowing the environmental footprint of what we manufacture encourages us to make our products more environmentally friendly and lead the way in our market.

The second reason is transparency. Our customers are increasingly asking about the environmental impact of our products, so we want to be upfront about it with our clients. It also helps companies with their non-financial reporting, which is especially important for listed companies, and audits. 

We initially started with TM65 data – but they can be manipulated, so and are therefore considered less reliable. We didn’t take into account the ‘use stage’ with TM65 and found it easier to consider all variables through EPDs with One Click LCA's EPD Generator. EPDs also calculate the impact of the manufacturing processes not just the materials used. So, the full life cycle is considered meaning they’re more accurate and detailed.

Getting our EPDs verified and completing cradle-to-grave EPDs means there’s more accountability and accuracy in our reporting. And, as a result, our customers find us more reliable and we can also know whether we’ve made any mistakes along the way!

In the EPD, there are sections where you’re able to explain exactly what was considered, and the processes undergone to calculate the product’s environmental impact, and also any omissions. It just adds a bit more context to the data shown. The customer isn’t just looking at numbers – they’re understanding the whole life cycle and the whole story of the product.


Why did you choose to create EPDs in-house?


Above all, it is much cheaper to create EPDs in-house. It can cost a lot more to create them externally and we knew that we wanted to create a scalable process, so it just made sense.

The second reason is more personal to us. Hydrotec’s problems can be difficult to explain it just made sense to keep the process in-house, so there’s no need to train someone else on our products. Even if this training would be minimal, it’s more logical to lean into the expertise we already have about our products.

Owning the creation process also makes it easier to complete updates and additional EPDs, which also goes back to the question of training. By using an internal team, it’s easier to train others on EPD creation, and the training can be more specific to the products and processes your company uses.

This is what we’re doing at Hydrotec. I will be training other members of the company to create EPDs. I’m creating a list of everything that is relevant for our products all the raw materials and all the processes. This helps to streamline the process in the future as well because whoever is making the EPDs won’t have to search for the right materials and processes.

I also think it’s easier to keep track of the process if the task is completed in-house, and timeframes can be more realistic as a result. If you know how long it’s taking you to complete an EPD, you can adjust your expectations for the future.

What about the data collection at the start of your EPD journey. What challenges came up?

Data collection is actually the most important part of the process, and it can be time-consuming. It’s better to have too much data than not enough, though, so spend your time on this. Ensure you’re getting everything you can. We collected this data over the course of about a year, and there are various modules that we covered in it, covering the whole product’s life cycle. 

We had limited data for the construction and use phases (Scopes A4 to A5) and used an approximate distance from our manufacturers to London, because our manufacturers are in Germany. We sell our products around the whole of the UK, so we couldn’t really use a more specific distance. But if you can, it is better to.

B1 to B5 is not always covered in the use stage, but we chose to include it to the best of our ability. We included the energy and water use for our products, as this has had a significant impact on our carbon emissions but this can be tailored to whatever your product or building is. 

Finally, there are C and D standards about the end-of-life stage and the benefits and loads of the end of life. With this section, we had to make some assumptions, based on UK data, because we’re not personally involved in the disposal of any products, and many of ours haven’t been disposed of yet. Our Head of Business Development and Sustainability recently found one of the very first hydromags ever sold about 30 years ago, which is very interesting to see.

Stage D was the hardest to get my head around. But this is where the One Click LCA EPD Generator onboarding and the template process really helped. We had wood chippings and incinerations as part of our EPDs. So, calculating the recoverable energy from this was quite difficult to learn and understand. But the template showed exactly how to do this, and our One Click LCA Customer Support Specialist explained why.


Aside from the data collection, what were the biggest challenges you faced when you started preparing EPDs?


I had no experience with life-cycle assessments and only learned minimally about sustainability at school. Other than that, I had nothing to go from. I think that was one of the challenges I personally faced. We are also one of the first companies in the industry to do this, so there weren't many existing benchmarks about how it should look. I think one of the biggest things I struggled with was just finding the correct data points. A lot of the time I had to go in and manually add them onto our company account into a separate data list. This was a struggle trying to find out exactly what was applicable for our products. Again, it goes back to not knowing about sustainability and not knowing about the specifics I’m not a sustainability expert. But our One Click LCA Customer Success mentor was really helpful with this.


A strong start: How One Click LCA EPD Generator enabled Hydrotec to complete 29 EPDs in two months

How did you start your journey with One Click LCA?

After collecting all the data, we completed the onboarding course it’s fantastic! The course included online lessons – where you complete a full EPD for one product. We had meetings after every lesson to go through the work and correct mistakes as required. I’m so grateful to One Click LCA for their help throughout this.

We opted for the 10-week course at Hydrotec. We wanted to complete at least one full product range as fast as possible. I actually managed to complete the course in about three weeks and complete a full range after a month. 

We continue to use our additional support hours, when publishing other EPDs, and we’ll be continuing to use them in the future as well. 

The EPD template was really helpful for us as we believe we are the first or at least one of the first industrial water treatment companies to create EPDs. It helped me know if I was on the right track when making ours. On some of the modules, it was very necessary, because of the calculations we had to do — like for the wood pallets and incineration.

We provided information for our most complicated product for the template because our template had to be made especially. They laid out exactly how it should look, including the comments and energy balancing which was incredibly helpful. There are some existing templates already, but we did have to get ours specially made as there wasn’t a template similar enough to our products. One Click LCA completed this within about two weeks.


How did One Click LCA help you maneuver the challenges of creating EPDs for complex ranges?

We did one full range to start, which included eight products in our high-mag range. We did this to publish all EPDs at the same time as a sustainable range. The onboarding course is only one product, but depending on how similar your products are, this should be sufficient at least it was for us. I used what I learned in the course to complete the other products in the range and our other ranges. And the verification process was also quicker and easier as a result.

One of the products was a little bit different from the others. it was only a couple of materials and processes, I think it was a crate and aluminium, instead of wooden pallets and plastic. So, we did have to change those bits – but our One Click LCA support specialist was incredibly helpful. We used our additional support hours for this and submitted all the products in this range at once. It actually worked out slightly cheaper to do this, as well.

We published with EPD Hub through the One Click LCA website which is a helpful part of the software. You can submit an EPD directly from the software to EPD Hub to get it verified. We checked the EPD with our mentor before submitting it to see if there were any mistakes in our data. 

The actual verification is a simple process we did have to make some changes, but they were painless. So for example, changing the data point for electricity or adding additional explanation in some of the comments. I actually had to explain that we didn’t have water use for some of our products because they treat water, they don’t use it. They might just want to understand what the product is. 

Overall, the process was simple, and it became a lot easier as we kept doing it. Part of this is because we made fewer mistakes, but it becomes quicker in general too. The other ranges we have completed were easy to do, following the process we had already learned, and making changes to certain data points, as required. We also learned from the comments of the verifier.

The long-term vision: How is Hydrotec creating an even more sustainable future?

Overall, we have completed 29 EPDs, covering four ranges and one standalone product over the course of two months. We will be using the results in the long-term to discover how best to reduce our impact on the environment and how to become more carbon neutral. 

In the short term, we will produce more EPDs we have at least four more products that we do want to create EPDs for. We’re always looking at how to better improve our environmental impact and I think this is going to help our manufacturers too. 

Making EPDs forces us to continually update the data on our products and encourages us to look at each individual part of their life-cycle. I think the best thing about EPDs is they show the impact of every part of your product on the environment. So, we’re using this now to understand where our products’ life-cycle can be changed to lessen our environmental impact. Overall, EPDs are critical in allowing us to create a more sustainable future.

Creating EPDs with One Click LCA

One Click LCA works with manufacturers across all construction-related industries to create fast, easy, scaleable EPDs and meet local and global compliance requirements. The range of One Click LCA EPD tools help sustainability professionals deliver EPDs and carbon footprints, to market and deliver sustainable products.



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