A top-down approach for implementation of Environmental Product Declarations in Mexico’s housing sector

Abstract

Purpose

A solid legislative framework and a strong sense of environmental sensitivity by the government are some of the elements that have contributed to a sustained development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) in developed countries, especially within the building sector. In Mexico, a big portion of the sustainability strategy from this sector has been focused on social housing. For this reason, the main objective of this research is to analyze a possible path to incorporate EPDs as part of this sustainability strategy, determining its possible reach and limitations in the current context of Mexican environmental legislative framework for housing sector.

Methods

General information about the legislative framework supporting the government strategy for sustainability in the housing sector is presented. The main instruments and programs that have been developed to accomplish this strategy are analyzed. This analysis is made mainly through the National Strategy for Sustainable Housing (NSSH) because it organizes and correlates most of these instruments. An analysis is made on how the life cycle approach and EPDs are considered within the NSSH.

Results and discussion

There are instruments contemplating the life cycle approach and even the use of EPDs to promote the sustainability of the housing sector; however, these instruments are not part of the NSSH. Despite this, the majority of housing developers know and use them during their housing design process, but they do not do it properly, since they are unaware of the LCA methodology and EPDs. So, a proposal is made to fully incorporate the use of EPDs as part of the government’s sustainability strategy for the Mexican housing sector. The Sisevive-Ecohouse (the only official instrument in Mexico for the housing evaluation) is proposed as a platform. Incorporating the instruments that already contemplate the life cycle approach and the use of EPDs as part of the NSSH is also part of the proposed strategy.

Conclusions

The strategy for housing sustainability in Mexico is mainly focused on the houses’ use phase, so a paradigm shift on this strategy has to be made, where life cycle approach must be included. There is feasibility for EPDs to be used for this purpose from existing instruments and programs. Nevertheless, the lack of legislative connection in addition to the obstacles for EPD implementation in an emergent economy as Mexico could slow down its development.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    This city’s growth requires the construction of new buildings and renewal of existing ones, and so the consumption of building materials.

  2. 2.

    The use of the term “urban” in this paper is used to refer to the concept of “city”.

  3. 3.

    IDEA Foundation “is a non-profit, independent and nonpartisan, organization whose mission is to design and promote innovative public policies, which generate opportunity equality for Mexican by means of economic development and poverty reduction; as well as being a confident source of independent analysis for government servants general public” (Fundación IDEA 2013)

  4. 4.

    The order in which the instruments are presented in Table 1 is not a mandatory or rigorous process to build and sell sustainable housing in Mexico. This table is just to present, in an organized way, the available instruments (and their objectives) to build sustainable housing, according to the Fundación IDEA (2013); and CIDOC and SHF (2015).

  5. 5.

    For this standard, the main materials are those representing the largest volume of total materials used in the building.

  6. 6.

    The energy and indoor performance (and now also an environmental performance) of a reference dwelling is used by the Sisevive-Ecohouse to establish a baseline performance on these issues

  7. 7.

    This program is currently in a pilot phase, and just some housing developers companies nationwide are part of the 4,747 homes of this phase (Kaineg et al. 2013; Arvizu-Piña et al. 2019).

  8. 8.

    An exchange rate of $1.17 per euro is considered.

  9. 9.

    Building environmental assessment schemes, like Sisevive-Ecohouse, are part of the key elements to boost EPDs in developed countries (Arvizu-Piña and Cuchí Burgos 2017).

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Correspondence to Victor Alberto Arvizu-Piña.

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Arvizu-Piña, V.A., Cuchí-Burgos, A. & Barrera-Alarcón, I.G. A top-down approach for implementation of Environmental Product Declarations in Mexico’s housing sector. Int J Life Cycle Assess 25, 157–167 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-019-01657-z

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Keywords

  • Emerging economy countries
  • Environmental policies
  • EPD
  • Housing sector
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Mexico