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The Environmental Impact of The BlazeMaster® Fire Protection System

BlazeMaster® CPVC has grown to become the most specified nonmetallic fire sprinkler system in the world and is approved for the following applications:

  • Single-family residencies, duplexes and mobile homes.
  • Multi-family residential buildings.
  • Light-hazard commercial use, including hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities and high-rise residential buildings.

On top of being known for easy installation and reliability, BlazeMaster CPVC is an environmentally friendly fire sprinkler solution.


Green Buildings are More Than a Trend

The manufacturing industry's understanding of its environmental impact has become more sophisticated. It’s not just about what comes out of smokestacks and sewer pipes. The impacts range from securing the resources and the amount of energy used in the manufacturing process to the ultimate disposal of the material.

Builders, contractors and homeowners are consciously choosing products and materials that do the least amount of damage to the environment—and that selection process extends to fire sprinkler systems.


BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems Authorizes a Life Cycle Assessment

LCALubrizol Corporation, the creator of BlazeMaster CPVC, supports green building practices and wanted to learn more about the environmental impact of its product. So, it authorized a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and is the only company in the industry to do such a study.

An LCA is an environmental assessment of all materials, the energy input and the energy output associated with all phases of a product—from the raw material through manufacturing, use and ultimate disposal. It goes beyond carbon emissions and energy usage to include such things as resource depletion and human toxicity. It is a full-circle evaluation of a product’s environmental impact.

For BlazeMaster CPVC, the life cycle includes raw materials, production of resin, conversion to pipe, distribution and wholesale, installation and use, and removal and disposal.


CPVC Outperforms Steel in 12 Out of 13 Environmental Categories

The LCA was performed by Environmental Resources Management, an independent environmental research firm. It conducted an LCA of two common materials used for fire sprinkler systems in the U.S.—steel piping and BlazeMaster CPVC piping—to determine which material's production, use and end of life were more detrimental to the environment.

The following environmental impact categories are included in the study:

  • Eutrophication - Excessive nutrients in aquatic ecosystems lead to abnormally high rates of microbial growth (e.g. algae blooms). High rates of microbial growth lead to oxygen depletion, which can damage organisms within the ecosystem.
  • Aquatic toxicity - Aquatic toxicity refers to the effects of a compound on organisms living in the water and is usually determined on organisms representing the three trophic levels, i.e. vertebrates (fish), invertebrates (crustaceans) and plants (algae) (source: European Commission).
  • Human toxicity - The human toxicity potential (HTP)—a calculated index that reflects the potential harm of a unit of chemical released into the environment—is based on both the inherent toxicity of a compound and its potential dose. It is used to weight emissions inventoried as part of a LCA or in the toxics release inventory (TRI) and to aggregate emissions in terms of a reference compound. Total emissions can be evaluated in terms of benzene equivalence (carcinogens) and toluene equivalents (non-carcinogens) (source: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry).
  • Terrestrial toxicity - Terrestrial toxicity is defined as the study of the effects of a chemical substance to terrestrial organisms and terrestrial plants. For many agrochemicals, assessment of their terrestrial toxicity is critical for protecting our ecosystem (source: Chem Safety Pro).
  • Photochemical smog formation - Smog is formed by the reaction of sunlight with air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), which adversely impacts human health and damage plants.  
  • Mineral depletion - The reduction in non-renewable natural resources in the form of minerals (often used for making metals).
  • Climate change - Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases cause heat to be trapped in the atmosphere resulting in adverse environmental effects.
  • Water depletion - Using fresh water at a rate that is faster than it can be replenished (source: USGS).
  • Acidification - Sulfur dioxide, ammonia and NOx emissions can lead to acid rain, which can lower the pH of fresh water, oceans and soil.
  • Energy consumption - Various types of energy are consumed throughout the life cycle of a product impacting global warming and resource depletion. (Broken down into renewable energy use and nonrenewable energy use).
  • Resource depletion - The consumption of resources, such as iron ore, crude oil, coal and other non-living resources, limits the options of future generations and can eventually lead to more damaging extraction and exploration methods.
  • Ozone layer depletion - Ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), reduce the potential for ultraviolet radiation to be absorbed in the stratosphere.

In an ISO-compliant study, BlazeMaster CPVC beat steel in 12 of the 13 categories tested, including climate change. It is why BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems are preferable to steel for environmentally conscientious builders.



BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems Are Better For The Environment

The streamlined LCA clearly suggests that BlazeMaster CPVC performs better than the steel system for all impact categories with the exception of ozone depletion. The greater quantity of raw materials consumed drives the steel product’s higher impact contributions.

Although BlazeMaster CPVC is produced from fossil resources, the impact of raw material use for the steel system has a higher fossil depletion impact. This is due to the significant weight increase of the steel system over BlazeMaster CPVC and the use of coke in the manufacturing of steel.

The impacts related to wholesale, installation, use, removal, transport and packaging are not significant for any of the systems. However, the increased installation and removal time required for steel pipe does increase the importance of the category slightly.


CPVC is Recyclable

While it is assumed that steel can also be recycled, as CPVC recycling infrastructure grows so has the recycling rate.

Currently, CPVC can be recycled as PVC piping or window profiles. Piping material can be collected on the jobsite by a specialized recycling firm (country-specific) and ground into pellets and granules, which can be mixed into different applications, such as:

  • Floor fillings
  • Floor coatings
  • Cable trays
  • Speed bumps
  • Car mats

As CPVC recycling infrastructure grows and the recycling rate increases, CPVC can be expected to widen its environmental performance gap over steel.


Choosing BlazeMaster CPVC

The LCA findings, combined with BlazeMaster CPVC's corrosion resistance, fast and easy installation process, and lower costs are what make BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems a more reliable and environmentally friendly choice than steel.

To learn more about the environmental impact on piping systems or obtaining a LEED certification for your building, contact our team of piping systems consultants today.

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