Regulatory Framework for BLDG Products

An Expert's View about Building Products and Construction in the Netherlands

Last updated: 25 Aug 2011

Summary
With the adoption of the Construction Products Directive (CPD) in 1988, the European Commission laid the groundwork for a “single market” for construction projects and building products in the European Union (EU). Existing legislation CPD 89/106/EC will be replaced by the newly adopted Construction Products Regulation (CPR) 305/2011 on July 1, 2013. The new legislation introduces simplified certification procedures for small manufacturers and manufacturers of custom-made building products. It also includes new essential requirements addressing accessibility, sustainability and use of dangerous substances.

The range of products covered by the regulation is broad, from log home kits to thermal insulation. The majority of products are covered by either a harmonized standard or technical assessment document. These technical specifications describe in great detail performance levels, test methods, and conformity assessment procedures in order to apply the required CE marking as an indication of the performance of a product.
Scope of the legislation
A construction product is defined as any product or kit which is produced for incorporation in a permanent manner in a construction project, including both buildings and civil engineering projects. The performance of building products impacts the performance of the building as a whole. Examples of such products are steel beams, roofing shingles, cement, toilets, thermal insulation and others.

Other directives may also apply to construction products such as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), low voltage and machinery. For example, a garage door with a remote control is considered to be a construction product and an electrically operated mechanism to which the low voltage and EMC requirements apply as well.

Certain types of products do not need a Declaration of Performance in accordance with the CPR. This exemption is relevant for manufacturers of building products that are custom-made or non-series production for specific uses/building projects. The exemption is also applicable to products which are incorporated/made on-site or for products manufactured in a traditional manner (heritage conservation). Nevertheless, it is not a complete exemption as national rules apply in all of these cases.

This report focuses on the compliance requirements for construction products only. For information about the actual EU building codes – known as Eurocodes – the following links are recommended: http://eurocodes.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ and http://www.eurocodes.co.uk/ 
Compliance in several steps with multiple choices:


1. Essential Requirements

The Construction Products Directive/Regulation harmonizes the requirements for performance of buildings, civil engineering projects and building products for incorporation in a building project. The building and civil engineering projects themselves are subject to Eurocodes - similar to building codes in the U.S. – which are standards for assessment of essential requirements as listed below:
. mechanical resistance and stability
. safety in case of fire
. safety and accessibility in use
. hygiene, health and safety of the environment
. protection against noise
. energy economy and heat retention
. sustainable use of natural resources

The same essential requirements apply by extension to building products to the extent that building products contribute to the overall safety of a construction. For example, an architectural wire needs to be tested for strength in order to ensure safety in use of a design staircase.
The new CPR added essential requirements, specifically:
. Disabled access
. Sustainable development
. Use/content of dangerous substances

Manufacturers of building products have a number of options to comply with these essential requirements. These options are largely determined by available choices and resulting outcomes linked to the following questions:
. Does the simplified procedure apply?
. Does a specific EN product standard exist which covers the product?
. Does a European Assessment Document exist?

2.New! Specific Technical Documentation (simplified procedure)

This procedure only applies to products that pose no significant risk, that are custom-made, like windows or doors, or products made by micro enterprises of less than 10 employees. The assumption is that a harmonized standard covering these products exists and that similar products which have been tested to the EN standards are already available on the market. The purpose is to lower the cost of testing/certification by avoiding duplicative testing where performance has already been established by other manufacturers through third party testing. In practice, this means that certain types of tests can be replaced by ‘specific technical documentation’ (STD). The STD contains the applicant’s justification to use the STD, for example, by providing proof that the manufacturer runs a micro enterprise, has evidence of conformity assessment module, etc. Nevertheless, compliance may still involve the services of an accredited test laboratory depending on the applicable conformity assessment module chosen.

3.Use of Harmonized Standards

To show compliance, manufacturers of building products will primarily use the harmonized product standards developed by CEN (non-electrotechnical standards) or CENELEC (electrotechnical standards). Use of these EN standards listed in the Official Journal of the EU (the EU equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register) is mandatory because the EN standards - mandated by the Commission - cover all relevant information for compliance. They are uniquely linked to the CPD/CPR. Currently, there are 410 EN standards covering a broad range of building products such as cement, special textiles, fire alarm systems, natural stone products, among others.
All harmonized standards are structured according to the same format: scope, normative references, definitions, performance requirements, evaluation of conformity, marking and labeling, plus annexes, including the ZA annex which specifies the conformity assessment procedure to meet the CPR requirements. Annex ZA will tell the manufacturer which conformity assessment module can be used for the intended use of a building product. For example, the power operated door standard EN 13241 specifies what the tasks are for the manufacturer, as well as the notified body. Two additional annexes provide basic information about the machine safety and electromagnetic compatibility testing.

Harmonized standards do not immediately enter into force after availability. First, member states are required to withdraw conflicting standards. Nine months following its publication, the standard will enter into force. For another 12 months, national standards may co-exist with the EU harmonized standards. This allows manufacturers to choose between a national approval procedure and CE marking for the transition period. At the end of the 12 months period CE marking is mandatory.

As all of the existing requirements in member states were supposed to be taken into consideration when developing the EU standard, member states are not authorized to layer on additional requirements. However, it is possible that member states might have different performance requirements in their building codes. So, even if a product meets the minimum performance requirements for CE Marking, a contractor may still find that its fitness for use in a given project is not satisfactory. To learn about national specifications, member states created national product contact points.

For the new essential requirements, compliance is addressed as follows:
. Disabled access: specific standards for the built environment to be developed by European standards organizations.
. Sustainable development: use of Environmental Product Declaration encouraged
. Dangerous substances: to be mentioned on Declaration of Performance

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Posted: 24 August 2011, last updated 25 August 2011

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Regulatory Framework for BLDG Products   By U.S. Commercial Service