Standardisation: future challenges for the sector, from CPR to environmental performance

Tuesday the 20th October 2020, Small Business Standards (SBS) gathered several renowned experts to discuss the review of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and the future of construction environmental performance at the occasion of the SBS Construction Forum.

During the first session, Simone Hapel from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community shared with the audience some thoughts from the German presidency perspective regarding the process of the CPR review. She notably recalled that the legislative phase of this process has not started out, a proposal from the European Commission being expected most likely for the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council during the third quarter of 2021. In the meantime, the German presidency has tasked itself to conduct consultation rounds during its tenure. The presidency is expected at the end of its term to publish its report on the progress of the process with the aim of informing the upcoming legislative phase when it will be initiated.

Eugenio Quintieri, EBC Secretary General, used this opportunity to point out at the some of the legal challenges regarding the CPR technical acquis process suggested by the EC during this Summer 2020. As a reminder, the CPR technical acquis is a parallel process to the CPR review, which will aim at establishing a consultation structure internal at the EC, and outside the European Centre for Standardisation (CEN). Its purpose is to update the construction sector European technical acquis (harmonised standards) for a list of priority products identified by Member states. He also informed the audience that SBS with its partners is preparing its own solutions to the issues caused by the James Elliott Court case.

Ms. Hapel welcomed the internal works made by SBS and other construction partners concluding the session by calling all stakeholders to contribute by providing technical inputs and legislative suggestions. She informs that this current consultative period is probably the most appropriate time to join the discussion as member states remain still uncertain about the future of the CPR.

The second part of the event focused on the declaration of environmental performance of construction products and works, including the use of digital tools to support it. SBS was glad to count as panelists Oscar Nieto, technical Director at Construction Products Europe, Josefina Lindblom, Policy Officer at DG Environment, and Tom de Boer from the Dutch National environmental database.

Initiating the presentation, M. Nieto presented a vision of the future the digital integration of relevant data, such as Environmental Products Declaration (EPD), would facilitate the assessment of environmental performance of Buildings at the local level. This integration would rely on interoperable and standardized product data template, which would be checked for compliance with European and National requirements through digital solutions such as Apps. In this regard, the digitalization of the Declaration of Performance (DOP) is the pivot of this system, which is poised to become an unavoidable tool for the design and calculation of Buildings environmental performance.

Ms. Lindblom focused on the Construction work level especially the Building assessment phase, by recalling the recent launch by the European Commission of the Level(s) methodology for assessing and reporting the sustainability performance of buildings. Providing a common European language, Level(s) follows a Lifecycle thinking for buildings, relying on core sustainability indicators tested with and by the building sector. Open source and freely available to all, Level(s) targets a wide range of construction stakeholders involved in all levels of design building, from the concept stage to the handover of the Building to the client and its monitoring, passing through design and construction.

Last but not least, Mr. de Boer shared with the audience the Dutch experiment of the National Environmental Database, one of the earliest innovations of its kind. Following the Life Cycle Analysis requirements of the Dutch National Determination Method, the National Environmental Database encode information on the environmental performance of products and buildings following EN 15804:2019 methodology for products and Dutch Calculation rules for the environmental performance of buildings. This approach allows to create a similar playing field level for all actors, facilitating environmental performance declaration. The database provides different category of data according its origin including: verified branch specific data (supplied and owned by the manufacturer), verified sector-specific data that are supplied and owned by the branch and unverified data drafted by Life-Cycle Analysis experts in case of absence of the former categories.

Despite starting each from a different perspective, the three presentations spoke well with each other. They provided interesting insights about the current availability of tools and methodologies made to facilitate the task of designing, assessing and reporting the environmental performance of building. SBS remains committed to keep working for the actors on the ground, from the manufacturer to the engineer passing through the contractor, to make sure that these tools are developed according their needs and reached them.

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