2011-09-13: Closely related to our current discussions about the 10th Anniversary of the 9-11 WTC Incident in New York …
For more years than I care to remember … I have been involved, directly and/or indirectly, with piecing together the edifice that is European Union (EU) Council Directive 89/106/EEC Interpretation … a lumbering giant which has failed, miserably, to bring about the necessary conditions for the efficient operation of an effective European Economic Area (EEA) Single Market for Construction Products.
Proper Implementation has always been the fatal weakness of this ‘system’ … because on the ground, in Europe, no such Single Market exists in reality. Politicians, at both European and national levels and typically lacking a competence on technical issues, believe otherwise. Bureaucrats, at both European and national levels and always lacking a working familiarity with the full scope of EU Treaties, do not want to recognise this fundamental truth.
To refresh your memories … the full title of the now Repealed EU Directive 89/106/EEC was …
Council Directive, of 21 December 1988, on the Approximation of Laws, Regulations and Administrative Provisions of the Member States relating to Construction Products
ANNEX I of that Directive described 6 ‘Essential Requirements’ …
- Mechanical Resistance & Stability
- Safety in Case of Fire
- Hygiene, Health & the Environment
- Safety in Use
- Protection against Noise
- Energy Economy & Heat Retention
The unusual feature of this particular New Approach Directive was that the ‘suitable’ construction products, i.e. products which could be shown to be fit for their intended use, had to facilitate the construction works in satisfying all of the 6 Essential Requirements, taken together as a whole … not just some of the Requirements.
Down through the years, however, it has been deeply frustrating … to have to pressure the TÜV Organization in Germany, for example, to issue proper Test Reports to their German Clients … or, as recently as last July, to have to explain basic information about CE Marking to Manufacturers. And there appears to be no proper infrastructure in any EU Member State to check and control CE Marks on industrial products generally, never mind construction products.
Further up the chain, there were also problems. In developing a family of 6 Separate Interpretative Documents for each of the Essential Requirements … important cross linking concepts between Requirements, e.g. Fire-Induced Progressive Building Collapse, fell into a deep void, almost never to be heard from again. And concepts explicitly referenced in ANNEX I, such as the Safety of Rescue Teams (i.e. firefighters), received little or no attention in those Interpretative Documents … which then had a serious knock-on effect when Harmonized European Standards, European Technical Approvals (ETA’s) and EuroCodes were being drafted, based on the guidelines in Interpretative Documents.
Halleluiah ! At Long Last … published on 4th April 2011, in the Official Journal of the European Union … the new EU Construction Product Regulation 305/2011 … the full title of which is …
Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down Harmonized Conditions for the Marketing of Construction Products and Repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC
ANNEX I of these New Regulations now describe 7 ‘Basic Requirements for Construction Works’ … requirements which are appropriate to the needs of our time. Please note the newly revised/additional texts, highlighted in red …
Construction works as a whole and in their separate parts must be fit for their intended use, taking into account in particular the health and safety of persons involved throughout the life cycle of the works. Subject to normal maintenance, construction works must satisfy these basic requirements for construction works for an economically reasonable working life.
1. Mechanical Resistance and Stability
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that the loadings that are liable to act on them during their construction and use will not lead to any of the following:
(a) collapse of the whole or part of the works ;
(b) major deformations to an inadmissible degree ;
(c) damage to other parts of the construction works or to fittings or installed equipment as a result of major deformation of the load-bearing construction ;
(d) damage by an event to an extent disproportionate to the original cause.
2. Safety in Case of Fire
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire:
(a) the load-bearing capacity of the construction works can be assumed for a specific period of time ;
(b) the generation and spread of fire and smoke within the construction works are limited ;
(c) the spread of fire to neighbouring construction works is limited ;
(d) occupants can leave the construction works or be rescued by other means ;
(e) the safety of rescue teams is taken into consideration.
3. Hygiene, Health and the Environment
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they will, throughout their life cycle, not be a threat to the hygiene or health and safety of workers, occupants or neighbours, nor have an exceedingly high impact, over their entire life cycle, on the environmental quality or on the climate during their construction, use and demolition, in particular as a result of any of the following:
(a) the giving-off of toxic gas ;
(b) the emission of dangerous substances, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), greenhouse gases or dangerous particles into indoor or outdoor air ;
(c) the emission of dangerous radiation ;
(d) the release of dangerous substances into ground water, marine waters, surface waters or soil ;
(e) the release of dangerous substances into drinking water, or substances which have an otherwise negative impact on drinking water ;
(f) faulty discharge of waste water, emission of flue gases or faulty disposal of solid or liquid waste ;
(g) dampness in parts of the construction works or on surfaces within the construction works.
4. Safety and Accessibility in Use
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they do not present unacceptable risks of accidents or damage in service or in operation such as slipping, falling, collision, burns, electrocution, injury from explosion and burglaries. In particular, construction works must be designed and built taking into consideration accessibility and use for disabled persons.
5. Protection against Noise
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that noise perceived by the occupants or people nearby is kept to a level that will not threaten their health and will allow them to sleep, rest and work in satisfactory conditions.
6. Energy Economy and Heat Retention
The construction works and their heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation installations must be designed and built in such a way that the amount of energy they require in use shall be low, when account is taken of the occupants and of the climatic conditions of the location. Construction works must also be energy-efficient, using as little energy as possible during their construction and dismantling.
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) re-use 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.
I will be anxious to see if the full intent of these ‘Basic Requirements for Construction Works’ is properly transposed into the new interpretative framework (comprising Delegated Acts, Harmonized Standards, etc., etc.) of EU Regulation 305/2011 …
I will be even more anxious to see how and when specific output (Harmonized Standards, European Technical Approvals (ETA’s) and EuroCodes) from the obsolete interpretative framework of the Repealed Directive 89/106/EEC is revised and updated !
and, finally …
When will we ever see the vital Infrastructure of Implementation operating successfully in the EU Member States … so that Manufacturers can reap the enormous benefits of an effective EEA Single Market for Construction Products ??