Last changed: 4/05/11
Umweltbundesamt and Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik issue a guideline for standard developers in the construction sector
Construction products may not pose a threat for the occupants or the environment of a construction work. This is one of the essential requirements of the European Construction Products Directive. So far, however, practical guidance, how to address environmental and health impacts of construction products in standards, has been missing. A new study carried out by the Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik (German Institute for Construction Engineering, DIBt) on behalf of the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency, UBA) presents a manual on dangerous substances for stakeholders in the construction sector. The manual shows, how the assessment of the release of dangerous substances can be integrated into product standards or technical approvals.
The European Commission has recently upgraded environmental and health aspects on its agenda for a common market for construction products. In April 2005 a mandate (M/366) was issued to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to develop harmonised approaches for dangerous substances under the Construction Products Directive. Simultaneously a Commission Expert Group for dangerous substances was set up to monitor the work in CEN. CEN has established a new technical committee (TC 351) ”Construction Products: Assessment of release of dangerous substances” as a response to the EC mandate. The new TC gathers for its first meeting on 19th to 21st April 2006. Both the Commission Expert Group and the new CEN TC can profit from results of the DIBt study.
The study ”Health and Environmental Criteria in Technical Specifications for Construction Products” shows, how to integrate protection of health and environment systematically into European standards. Its main target group are the standard developers in the around 50 CEN TCs responsible for different construction products as well as the experts in the working groups of the European Organisation for Technical Approvals (EOTA). The study includes detailed recommendations especially for two product groups: concrete constituents and floor coverings. For all other construction products that are subject to European standardization information on their use and potential release of dangerous substances is provided.
The goal of harmonising technical specifications throughout Europe is to remove trade barriers for construction products in the common market. Postponing the harmonisation of tests for the release of dangerous substances from construction products has so far prevented European companies from gaining full profits from harmonised standards. Standards providing for a high level of protection, as envisaged in the EC Treaty, will be beneficial for all stakeholders. Introducing information on the release of dangerous substances in product standards will have positive impacts on the competitiveness of European companies and help them to exploit the opportunities to reduce products’ potential to jeopardize human health or the environment better.
The manual ”Health and Environmental Criteria in Technical Specifications for Construction Products” can be downloaded here.