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Geoff Wilkinson’s Regs: Construction Products Regulations

New European construction regulations could mean simpler rules and a wider variety of products

A key vote in the European Parliament could mean that architects will be able to specify a wider range of products.

On 18 January this year, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Construction Products Regulations (CPR). The vote followed the unanimous endorsement of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). The CPR will lay down harmonised rules for the marketing of construction and repeals the Construction Products Directive.

The vote means the regulation will now progress to full adoption, with the UK expected to start formal implementation as early as July 2011. The draft regulation lays out the conditions for new CE marking for construction products and a ‘passport’, which demonstrates that a product has been assessed against a harmonised European standard.

The CPR addresses concerns that the CE marking process can be slow and costly. The new rules are expected to simplify procedures for micro-enterprises and producers of bespoke products, and make it simpler to obtain CE marking for innovative and novel products.

The draft regulations also allow member states to legislate for the environmental performance of a product, and require a declaration within the CE marking to address the sustainable credentials of the product. It is unclear yet whether the UK will implement this fully and we will need to see if the coalition lives up to its promise to be the greenest government ever. If so, it will require revision to regulation 7 of the Building Regulations 2010 to the effect that building work must be carried out with adequate and proper materials and in a workmanlike manner.

In summary the key changes are:

Declaration of performance At least one of the essential characteristics of a construction product which are relevant for its use must now be declared, removing the nonsensical situation of null certificates.

Health, safety and the environment Account should be taken of the health and safety aspects related to a product’s use during its entire life cycle. This is likely to mean greater pressure to adopt site waste management plans, making sure the use of natural resources is sustainable and to ensure re-use or recyclability.

Dangerous substances A statement must be included about the content of hazardous substances in the product
in order to improve the possibilities for sustainable construction and to facilitate the development of environmentally-friendly products.

Simplified procedures The rules allow for simplified procedures for the assessment of performance of construction products, to decrease the cost of placing them on the market.

CE markingThe CE mark must now include the two last digits of the year in which it was approved, the name and the registered address of the manufacturer.

Requirements for Testing and Accreditation Bodies (TABs) TABs are now expected to work together to develop best practice, promote greater efficiency and provide a better service to industry.

TimescaleThis regulation is due to take effect within 20 days of publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). However, Articles 3 to 28, 36 to 38, 56 to 63, 65 and 66 as well as Annexes I, II, III and V will not apply until 1 July 2013. Within three years, the commission will assess the specific need for information on the content of hazardous substances in construction products and consider its possible extension to other substances.

In its assessment, the commission will take into account the need to ensure a high level of protection of the health and safety of workers using construction products and of users of construction works, taking account of recycling and re-use requirements of parts and materials. If appropriate, the report shall, within two years, be followed up by appropriate supportive legislation proposals.

Note: Bold indicates plans that will be confirmed after evaluation in 2010

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