Standardisation: SBS Construction Forum discusses the impact on SMEs of the under-revision CPR

On 20 November, EBC and SBS successfully concluded the SBS Construction Forum focused on navigating the changes brought forth by the ongoing revision of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). Hosted with the goal of fostering collaboration and understanding, this first edition since 2020 brought together key stakeholders, industry experts, and SME representatives to discuss the proposed changes, related initiatives and their implications to SMEs and crafts, also in the context of the Meeting Standards campaign.

The ongoing revision of the CPR will signify a significant development within the construction sector, by introducing critical changes in terms of environmental sustainability and digitalisation. In that vein, the forum commenced with insightful updates on the trilogue negotiations provided by the European Commission, shedding light on the ongoing political discussions before EBC voiced the primary concerns of SMEs and crafts in response to the proposed changes.

Then, the event was divided into two sessions, reflecting the green and digital transition in progress in the construction sector.

The first session titled “Environmental requirements and standards to support the implementation of the CPR” aimed to unravel the practical implications of incorporating sustainability requirements into future construction product standards, with the participation of Oscar Nieto Sanz from the European Commission, Dieter de Lathauwer, chair of CEN TC 350 and SBS experts Csilla Csiha. The speakers addressed the SME concerns, emphasising the need to avoid excessive administrative burdens and the need of further efforts to minimise costs associated with testing environmental characteristics. The idea that environmental sustainability could enhance data availability throughout the construction value chain was discussed as a shift to the operation of the sector, and SMEs were encouraged to start preparing for the future.

Beyond the environmental ambition, the construction sector is parallelly undergoing a digital transformation, marked by simultaneous initiatives aimed at fostering the adoption of digital tools. The second session “Initiatives to support digitalisation of construction” delved into several initiatives such as Digital Product Passport (DPP), the Digital Building Logbooks (DBLs), the work in CEN TC 442 on BIM, and the more recent feasibility study an EU database or system for construction products in the context of the CPR revision. Exploring their interconnectedness to create a unified digital ecosystem was a focal point of the discussions, including the relevant standardisation work supporting a more digital construction, with inputs from Espen Schulze from CoBuilder (one of the coordinators of the feasibility study before mentioned), Michel Böhms from TNO representing the DBLs community, and SBS expert Reinhard Fandrich. Central to the dialogue was the interaction between these initiatives, and the needed interoperability and communication among digital initiatives, as these are crucial in reducing the learning curve for SMEs navigating these systems and in increasing their uptake and mainstream use.

The forum concluded with a call for collaboration among all stakeholders to facilitate the navigation, implementation and assessment and thus overall success of the proposed CPR revision. While SMEs possess innovation competencies, working together is imperative to effectively implement them. The forum highlighted the need for simplification and proper guidance to enhance understanding and ensure a smooth transition for all and in particular SMEs.

Coordinated by EBC, this SBS Construction Forum provided an excellent opportunity to exchange on the various developments related to the standardisation process and to the CPR revision, emphasizing the strategic importance of standards for construction SMEs.

To consult the full agenda of the SBS Construction Forum, click here

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The presentations of the speakers are available here