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    Construction Products Regulation

    Summary

    On the 1st July 2013, the old Construction Products Directive was withdrawn and replaced by the Construction Products Regulation. The Regulation aims to be an updated and improved version of the Directive, so the fundamental principles are the same, namely: 

    To break down technical barriers to trade in construction products between Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA).

    To provide for a system of harmonised technical specifications for construction products.

    To establish harmonised rules on how to detail the performance of construction products in relation to certain essential characteristics.

    To generate a framework of Notified Bodies (bodies accredited by the EU to perform testing and certification activities with regard to this regulation).

    To provide for the CE marking of products.

    A point to note is that like the Directive, the new Regulation does not harmonise regulations and requirements concerning the actual construction works (e.g. the Building Regulations in the UK). Member States, public and private sector procurers are free to set their own requirements on the performance of buildings and construction works and therefore the performance levels of products. 

    The Construction Products Regulation represents a continued focus on the safety and other performance aspects of completed construction works and lays down aspects to consider for construction products. The 6 ‘Essential Requirements’ of the Directive have been extended to become the 7 ‘Basic Works Requirements’, namely; Mechanical resistance and stability, Safety in case of fire, Hygiene health and environment, Safety and accessibility in use, Protection against noise, Energy economy including heat retention and a new requirement - Sustainable use of natural resources. 

    The Regulation permits exceptions for compliance, notably certain bespoke products, which are not manufactured in series.

    Changes to the Approach
    The Regulation differs from the Directive, in that it requires no national legislation in member states to implement the mandatory requirements. This avoids different interpretations in different member states. Previously under the Directive, the UK, Eire and Sweden had adopted an interpretation that application of the CE mark was voluntary. The Regulation clarifies that application of the CE mark, where a harmonised technical specification exists, is indeed compulsory.


    The Directive used a simplistic model in which manufacturers sold their products directly to an end user. In reality a complex import-distribution chain often exists between the manufacturer and an end user. Hence the Regulation recognises this by imposing legal obligations on these importers and distributors to participate in ensuring the compliance of construction products they trade in. From the 1st July 2013 importers and distributors need to adopt a ‘chain of custody’ approach to ensure the relevant supporting documents are capable of being transferred from the manufacturer to the end user. Furthermore, where a distributor places a product on the market under their own label, they will be treated in many respects as the manufacturer. 

    The Regulation clarifies that certain products may be exempt from its requirements where they are:

    Custom made products in response to a specific order, when installed by the manufacturer.

    Manufactured on the construction site.

    Intended for use in traditional, heritage type conservation projects.

     

    The Regulation adds detail to the question of enforcement, which has in reality been rather weak until now. Member states must designate ‘enforcing authorities’ which are empowered to restrict or remove non-compliant products from the market. For example, in the UK, Trading Standards are the enforcing authority. 

    The Regulation aims to reduce the financial burden of compliance for small manufacturers. As such, micro-enterprises are allowed to use certain simplified procedures to demonstrate compliance, as long as they can be demonstrated to be equivalent. 
    In order to provide better access to information about the Regulation, each member state has to create a ‘product contact point’ which aims to provide independent free advice, particularly to small enterprises. 

    Compliance with the Regulation
    As already noted, the Regulation requires that products which are incorporated into constructions are to be adequately specified so as to ensure the performance of the structure itself. In practice, of course, this means that a series of product specifications have to be produced so that manufacturers have proper benchmarks against which to declare their products’ performance. 

    The Regulation thus permits two methods of compliance:

    Harmonised European Standards.

    European Technical Assessments (ETA)

    Transition from the Directive to the Regulation does not have a transitional period, the ‘switch’ occurred on July 1st 2013. Note CE marking is only mandatory, where a harmonised standard is available against which to declare the performance of the product. Where there is no harmonised standard, the manufacturer may choose to demonstrate compliance via a European Technical Assessment route. However the decision to draft a European Technical Assessment remains voluntary even after 1st July 2013.

    As with the Directive, the Regulation itself does not define the required attestation procedure for any particular product or group of products. Instead, a large number of Commission Decisions have followed which essentially determine whether the manufacturer can self-certify their products or the involvement of an independent body (a “notified body”) is required.  There were previously 6 levels of attestation which defined whether the manufacturer or notified body were responsible for various tasks. Under the Regulation, these are reduced to 5 levels.