The ECJ has ruled that requirements of national building regulations may no longer be imposed on European harmonized construction products. For that reason, the German lightweight concrete industry offers for its products Declarations of Performance under private law, which are intended to supplement the CE markings. “The concept of requirements documentation by a manufacturer’s declaration ensures that all descriptions, declarations of conformity and attestations required by building regulations are available to clients and the construction authorities – from planning and design to implementation,” explains Dieter Heller, the General Managing Director of the Federal Association of the German Lightweight Concrete Industry (in Neuwied, Germany).
German lightweight-concrete industry supplements CE conformity marking
In the European Union, standards and codes of practice are gradually being rendered uniform to prevent isolation of national markets on a European level. This harmonization, as it is referred to, also applies to the construction industry. At the same time, however, it must be ensured that the requirement standards within a country are not lowered by harmonization: a factor which, in Germany, was until now taken account of by the Ü-mark. This label was applied to CE-marked products that satisfied not only European criteria but in addition, German national requirements as well. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now put a stop to this practice of double labelling.
In order to ensure that requirements placed on structures by the German building regulations are also met in the future, several manufacturing associations as well as the German Federal Chambers of Architects and Engineers have joined forces. Together, they have developed Requirement Documents under private law. In future, these must specify the performance characteristics of the individual construction products. Conformity with the requirements of a structure must be attested to by manufacturers’ declarations or expert opinions.
“The objective had been to transpose the requirements of German Building Regulations (Bauordnungsrecht) in a legally secure manner for use on Europe-harmonized construction products,” explained Dipl.-Ing. Dieter Heller of the Federal Association of the German Lightweight Concrete Industry. “Moreover, for us as industry it is important to offer a pragmatic solution that quickly re-establishes certainty.” In addition to the Federal Association of the German Lightweight Concrete Industry, 15 other associations of the German construction industry as well as the relevant professional Chambers, by their signatures, declared themselves responsible for the new system.
Already in the invitation to tender and procurement, the newly created requirement documents specify the performance characteristics that a construction product must meet to satisfy the requirements of a structure. The respective document then serves as the basis for contract, order and delivery documents. Both third party monitoring of the products and factory production control will be continued in the familiar way. The system is now also anchored in the respective regulation. DIN 18200:2018, for example, contains a sample for a voluntary manufacturer’s declaration: “Verification of conformity for construction products – factory production control, third-party monitoring and certification.” The standard was published in August 2018 and now enables verification of conformity for additional characteristics in harmonized construction products.