A new study reveals that ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) produces a significantly lower environmental impact than previously shown. Sponsored by the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), the data indicates that both black and white EPDM excel in key categories such as global warming, acidification, and smog generation. It also showed the global warming potential of a black EPDM or white TPO roofing membrane was approximately half that of a white PVC or un-surfaced SBS membrane.
“This study not only corrects what appeared to be inaccurate data on the life cycle performance of EPDM, it provides a thorough comparison of other leading roof systems,” said Bill Tippins, a member of the ERA Technical Committee. The study examined a variety of roofing membranes – including EPDM, TPO, PVC, and SBS modified bitumen – installed via a number of common roof system attachment methods, including ballast, fully adhered and mechanically attached. The findings suggest that roof system service life may be a critical factor in determining a material’s overall environmental impact.
Using life cycle assessment (LCA), the study was conducted by GreenTeam Inc. and the data was reviewed by the ATHENA Institute and TEGNOS Research. “Now available through the Athena Impact Estimator, it will also be important for other public sources of LCA information to consider this data and make any necessary updates to accurately reflect the environmental impact of EPDM,” noted Jim Hoff, a TEGNOS Research founder.