EU Construction Product Regulation 305/2011


What is the Construction Product Regulation?

The 'Construction Products Regulation' (CPR) along with its  predecessor 'Construction Products Directive' (CPD) lays down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products.

The well-known 'CE Mark', effectively a quality mark, confirms that a manufacturer complies with the conditions set-out within the Regulation.


Why do we need the Construction Product Regulation?

The 'CE Mark' combined with first the Construction Products Directive in 1988 and subsequently the 'Regulation', is an effort on the part of the EU to foster the free movement and use of construction products in the internal market.

By introducing common methods of testing, declarations of performance values and methods of conformity assessment, the EU is attempting to simplify the prevalence of a confusing variety of standards for technical specifications stretching across the Union. Further, whereas the methodologies became harmonised, the actual choice of the values to be met by the declarations would continue to be met by the requirements of each Member State.

The initial requirements included in the original 'Directive' were aimed at delivering basic declarations of performance associated with health and safety.

For various reasons, the 'Directive' performed short of expectation. Consequently the 'Directive' was repealed and replaced by the 'Construction Products Regulation' in 2013. It is aimed at making good the shortcomings of the 'Directive' as well as expanding the list of basic requirements.


Why has the CPR become relevant to 'Green' procurement?

Apart from changes to the procedural aspects of the marketing of construction products, the Regulation revises and expands the basic requirements set out in the original 'Directive'.

Revisions include the enhancing of the Basic Requirement No 3 'Hygiene, health and the environment' to include statements regarding '… the emissions of dangerous substances, greenhouse gases or dangerous particles…' into the environment.

Most changes will be connected with the new Basic Requirement No 7 'Sustainable use of natural resources':

'The construction works must be designed, built and demolished in such a way that the use of natural resources is sustainable and in particular ensure the following:

(a) reuse or recyclability of the construction works, their materials and parts after demolition;

(b) durability of the construction works;

(c) use of environmentally compatible raw and secondary materials in the construction works.'

Two further important provisions are set out in the Regulation:

Item (25) states that where applicable, the declaration of performance should be accompanied by information on the content of hazardous substances in the product. Though widely considered an essential provision, the regulation will be necessarily limited by the fact that for many substances methods of testing have yet to be agreed. That said, the Regulation sets out at least a basic compliance with those substances listed under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

Secondly, item (56) states that where the declaration of performance includes an assessment of the sustainable use of resources as well as the impact of construction works on the environment, then Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) should be used when available.


The significance of the 'Regulation' to 'green' building products

Over the past two decades, the definition of sustainable construction has become deeper and richer. Originally couched in terms of efficiency dictated by the oil crisis of the 1970s, energy has developed in importance from an issue of capital resource through to that of its role in climate change. Considering the imperatives associated with global warming, it is no surprise then that conservation of energy and its associated restriction of carbon output has become a key indicator in policies and legislation, not least in the construction sector.

Perhaps overshadowed by this urgent message of global warming and the need for carbon reduction, non-the-less other environmental concerns have emerged as part of the sustainability agenda. The environmental impacts associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of building products is very gradually being recognised through policies, codes and regulations.

In the UK, impacts have been recognised in the evolution of the voluntary standard BREEAM. Established in 1990, BREEAM for a long time was the only standard to recognise the overall environmental impact of building materials. BRE Ecohomes and the Green Guide to Specification followed in its wake to inform a rating system that evaluated a large range of construction types and materials.

Legislation in the UK is yet to catch-up with BREEAM standards, but the Government's Code for Sustainable Homes initiative is beginning to bring legislative tools to developing standards along the lines explored by BREEAM.

Though ostensibly launched as a package of measures aimed at 'zero carbon' development, the Code includes a degree of provision that recognises the environmental impact of construction products and materials.

Whilst rewards to the building designer for the consideration of the sustainability of materials have been relatively meagre in both schemes, the recognition of the provenance of building products demonstrates that the wider defined sustainable construction is an emerging sector.

At a European scale, persuaded by the prevailing zeitgeist as well as untold numbers of lobbying groups, the EU has developed standards and initiatives such as the 'Commission's Action Plan on the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy' - a veritable mouth-full of a title, but which set out an integrated package of measures to deliver more sustainable consumption and production; The Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) initially aimed at energy-related products but possessing a wider brief to reduce other negative environmental impacts of products; Green Public Procurement, a standard informing the UK Government Buying Standards where '…50% of all tendering procedures should be green,..'; And the 'Ecolabel' established to encourage businesses to market products that meet high standards of environmental performance and quality.

Developing in parallel to these EU and other initiatives has been a whole raft of standards from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) included in their ISO 14000 series. Of particular note is ISO 14025 that sets out the format for reporting life cycle analysis (LCA) data through Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

The deployment of the Construction Product Regulation in 2013 confirmed that consideration of the environmental impacts of construction products and materials is lodged at the heart of European standards - opening the door to the establishment of a wealth of new environmental performance standards supporting the CE mark.


What does it mean to the manufacturer and product specifier?

• It is the manufacturer's responsibility to apply CE marking and declare that the product meets all appropriate provisions of the relevant legislation.

• In applying for a CE mark, manufacturers will be required, as part of the declaration of performance, to provide evidence of sustainable use of natural resources, low environmental impact as well as energy efficiency.

• Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) will be the preferred method of conveying measured LCA data associated with the environmental impact of the manufacture, use and disposal of products and materials. The EPD market will likely expand dramatically.

• Specifiers will be presented with green indicators for the first time in support of CE marks. This represents a significant departure from the existing role of the CE mark.

• Responsibility for ensuring that a product has the correct characteristics for a particular application rests with designers, contractors and local building authorities.

• Architects and specifiers will need to develop new skill-sets to interpret the implications of environmental impact indicators and their effect on the inclusion of CE marked products in construction.