CE Marking

Construction Products Directive

From 1 July 2013, under the Construction Products Regulation 20111 (CPR), it became mandatory for manufacturers to draw up a declaration of performance and apply CE marking to any of their construction products which is covered by a harmonised European standard (hEN), when such a product is placed on the market. By definition a construction product is any product which is produced and placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works or parts thereof and the performance of which has an effect on the performance of the construction works with respect to the basic requirements for construction works. This is a major change as affixing of CE marking under the provisions of the previous Construction Products Directive (CPD) was voluntary in the UK. For those already CE marking under the CPD the transition should be straightforward.
 

The Four Main Provisions of the CPR

The CPR builds upon the CPD and aims to break down technical barriers to trade in construction products within the European Economic Area. To achieve this, the CPR provides for four main elements:

• a system of harmonised technical specifications

• an agreed system of conformity assessment for each product family

• a framework of notified bodies

• CE marking of products

The CPR harmonises the methods of assessment and test, the means of declaration of product performance and the system of conformity assessment of construction products, but this is not applicable to national building regulations. The choice of required values for the particular intended use is left to the regulators and public / private sector procurers at the national level. However, such required values must be expressed in a consistent manner as used in the harmonised technical specifications.

Harmonised Technical Specifications

Under the CPR, harmonised technical specifications are harmonised European product standards (hENs) established by CEN/CENELEC3. The harmonised technical specification for a product defines European wide methods of assessing and declaring all the performance characteristics required by regulations in any Member State which affect the ability of construction products to meet seven basic requirements for construction works. These include :

1. Mechanical resistance and stability

2. Safety in case of fire

3. Hygiene, health and environment

4. Safety and accessibility in use

5. Protection against noise

6. Energy economy and heat retention

7. Sustainable use of natural resources.

The main route to a harmonised technical specification under the CPR is for hENs to be drawn up and published by CEN/CENELEC. European product standards also address characteristics not regulated in any Member State, but which have been included for commercial reasons e.g. aesthetic characteristics. Because of this, all hENs under the CPR include an Informative Annex (termed Annex ZA), the first part of which (ZA.1) lists the regulated requirements according to a mandate issued to CEN or CENELEC by the European Commission and the clauses in the standard in which they are addressed. Some of these clauses may in turn refer to separate supporting documents such as test standards. In this way, Annex ZA.1 in the hEN becomes a checklist for CE marking from which the manufacturer can see all the mandatory requirements for their product and how they can be met.

CE Marking

CE marking enables a product to be placed legally on the market in any Member State. However, as explained below, this does not necessarily mean that the product will be suitable for all end uses in all Member States.

CE marking indicates that a product is consistent with its Declaration of Performance (DoP) as made by the manufacturer. The declaration varies according to the particular harmonised technical specification covering the product. In general there are three ways in which information can be presented for each relevant characteristic:

• confirmation of achievement of a minimum performance or threshold. This could be by satisfying a Pass/Fail criterion or simply by being eligible to be in the standard.

• the actual performance (declared value).

• a particular class of performance reached.

As such, decision makers (e.g. designers and specifiers) should understand the relevant performance requirements for the product.

How CE marking is approached for a specific product is set out in the harmonised technical specifications. For hENs this is set out in Annex ZA.3.

Declaration of Performance

By making a DoP the manufacturer, importer or distributor is assuming legal responsibility for the conformity of the construction product with its declared performance. The information to be contained in them is detailed in Annex ZA of a hEN. DoPs must be supplied either in paper form or by electronic means. 

Where minimum or maximum values have been set in the technical specifications, these need not be repeated in the DoP. Classes of performance may be declared within the DoP, with the key to the classes appearing in the technical specification. A detailed knowledge of the technical specification is therefore often needed.

Where a parameter is covered in the hEN, it is not permissible to quote any results obtained for that parameter using a different test method or different units.

Together with the technical specification, the DoP should give all the information needed by specifiers and regulators to judge whether the product meets all relevant regulations in the Member State upon whose market it is to be placed.

Provided that the manufacturer has met the requirements of at least one characteristic in the declaration of performance they are not required to determine and/or declare values relating to characteristics for which regulations do not exist in the chosen market sector. In these cases, a declaration of ’no performance determined‘ (NPD) may be made, as provided for in the hEN.

Where applicable, the declaration of performance should be accompanied by information on the content of hazardous substances in the construction product to improve the possibilities for sustainable construction and to facilitate the development of environment-friendly products. This is complicated by the fact that, for many substances, the necessary test methods have yet to be agreed. Initially it should be limited to substances referred under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance

The system of Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance4 (AVCP) is the term applied to define the degree of involvement of third parties in assessing the conformity of the product according to the relevant technical specification(s). For each product family, the system of AVCP is decided collectively by the Member States and the European Commission. They do so on the basis of the implications of the product on health and safety and on the particular nature and production process for the product itself.

To achieve this the CPR uses five main elements:

• Factory production control (fpc) on the basis of documented, permanent and internal control of production in a factory, in accordance with the relevant harmonised technical specifications

• Initial inspection of the manufacturing plant and of fpc

• Continuous surveillance, assessment and evaluation of fpc

• Determination of product type on the basis of type testing, type calculation, tabulated values or descriptive documentation of the product

• Audit testing of samples taken before placing the product on the market.

The five systems of AVCP and the level of involvement of notified bodies in each is as follows:

System 1+ product certification comprising the issuing of a certificate of constancy of performance with determination of the product-type, continuous surveillance and audit testing by a notified product certification body

- System 1 product certification comprising the issuing of a certificate of constancy of performance with determination of the product-type and continuous surveillance by a notified product certification body

- System 2+ factory production control certification with continuous surveillance by a notified factory production control certification body

- System 3 determination of product type by a notified testing laboratory

- System 4 manufacturer’s tasks only

For all systems the manufacturer is required to have a fully documented fpc system. The criteria for this should be included in the harmonised technical specification.

The procedures for conformity assessment for a product are set out in the relevant technical specification. For standards these appear usually in Annex ZA.2.

Once all the appropriate conformity assessment tasks have been carried out for the product, the manufacturer is required to complete a DoP which is kept with the technical file concerning the product. This may be supported by a certificate of constancy of performance, certificate of conformity of the fpc, test laboratory reports or certificates, and/or a manufacturer’s own test results, depending on the system of AVCP required.

An outline of the manufacturer’s DoP and for the certificate of constancy of performance (if relevant), will be included in Annex ZA.3 of the hEN.

Use of CE Marking

As from 1 July 2013, construction products placed on the market in the UK and conforming to Annex ZA of a harmonised standard (hEN) will have to be accompanied by a DoP and will need to have the CE marking.

Drawing up a DoP and affixing the CE marking is the responsibility of the manufacturer or their authorised representative, depending who is placing the product on the market. Products may need to comply with other regulations and laws for them to be used or sold.

For construction products covered by a hEN which have been individually manufactured or custom-made in a non-series process for a specific order, installed in a single identified construction works, the performance assessment part of the applicable system of AVCP may be replaced by Specific Technical Documentation demonstrating equivalence to the hEN. If the AVCP system is 1+ or 1, the Specific Technical Documentation must be verified by a notified product certification body, therefore the product still has to be CE marked.

The CPR is not intended to harmonise member state’s building regulations. It harmonises the methods of:

• test

• declaration of product performance

• assessment and verification of constancy of performance

Enforcement Authorities, Trading Standards (England, Wales and Scotland) and Environmental Health Officers (Northern Ireland), are aware of the significance of the CE marking in relation to construction products.

Building Control Bodies, specifiers, and other practitioners will need to keep abreast of the introduction of hENs, and amendments to Building Regulations and their supporting documents. These will include not only Approved Documents (England and Wales), Technical Handbooks (Scotland) and Technical Booklets (Northern Ireland), but also BS Codes of Practice and other relevant documentation.

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