Revision of the Construction Products Regulation
A well-guided proposal requiring adaptations to become workable and an effective driver of sustainability and digitalisation in construction
Glass for Europe welcomes the European Commission’s (EC) proposal for a revision of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), COM (2022) 144 final.
As the EU trade association representing Europe’s building glass sector, we support the proposal in so far that it reinforces the single market principles for construction products, maintains the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) as the hub for developing harmonised standards and supports the construction industry’s move towards greater sustainability.
Based on the experience of building glass manufacturers, which make hundreds of thousands of product references available to their clients, and that of the thousands of SMEs across Europe, which rely on the simplified procedures offered by the CPR to transform and deliver tailor-made glazing solutions to the construction industry, Glass for Europe calls on European decision-makers to improve the proposal on several items to make it really workable for all actors of the building glass value chain.
FOCUS on the three most important items requiring adaptations
1 . The reintroduction of an existing simplified procedure is necessary to cut red-tape for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and for quasi-identical references. The simplified procedure of Article 36(1)(b) of the current CPR, which allows the recognition and sharing of test results obtained by another manufacturer, and which is largely used in the building glass sector without complaint nor problem since 2005, should be re-introduced to free SMEs of unnecessary burdensome work and costs (Article 64).
2 . The concept of a newly centralised database or system must support the construction industry’s digitalisation and avoids over-prescriptive and outdated requirements (Articles 78, 17, and 19). The EU database or system described in Article 78 should be made smart and decentralised (blockchain, API) to ensure that the high amount of data asked in the proposal can be shared smoothly without over-consuming human and financial resources.
3 . Utilising this regulation as a driver of sustainability in the construction sector is a good idea and one needs to ensure that no counterproductive provision hampers the sustainability objectives of the CPR. Glass for Europe has strong reservations on the introduction of a traffic light labelling system (Article 22(5)). The sustainability performance of building glass products depends on too many environmental parameters as well as on the building where the glass product will be installed.
1. Some simplified procedures need to be reintroduced to cut red-tape for SMEs and quasi-identical references
Glass for Europe welcomes the suppression of the current obligation to copy information from the Declaration of Performance (DoP) on the CE label (Regulation 305/2011 Article 9(2)) which was an unnecessarily burdensome procedure. Further simplification of the DoP template could be made however, notably by maintaining the flexibility foreseen in the provisions of Delegated Regulation 574/2014. All simplified procedures of Article 36 of Regulation 305/2011 should also be maintained to reduce the burden on SMEs.
Art. 64 Use of appropriate technical documentation
The simplified procedure currently allowing the recognition of test results obtained by another manufacturer (Regulation 305/2011 Article 36(1)(b)), has been omitted. The numerous possible glazing configurations and the fact that identical components are used by several manufacturers make this procedure widely used by the glass sector. SMEs are the first beneficiaries since the duration and costs of tests requested by certain standards can be substantial, while repeating tests brings no added value.
- Glass for Europe suggests re-introducing Article 36(1)(b) of Regulation 305/2011 in Article 64. This procedure is being frequently used since 2005 without resulting in any issues.
Similarly, the provision of Article 36(1) of the current CPR, allowing the replacement of type calculations by technical documentation, has been suppressed. This simplified procedure permitted reducing unnecessary red-tape and substantial costs to manufacturers and most particularly SMEs.
- Glass for Europe suggests re-introducing the possibility to replace type calculation with technical documentation when specified in the harmonised technical specifications (hTS).
2. The EU database and system must support the construction industry’s digitalisation and avoid over-prescriptive and outdated requirements.
Glass for Europe welcomes the use of an EU database or system (Article 78). This corresponds to flat glass manufacturers’ continuous work on digitalisation. Yet, this EU system should be adapted to the reality of the construction products field. Instead of a classic centralised database, it should be a smart system, that can handle fully digitised and automated interactions for sharing and retrieving information from decentralised manufacturers’ systems. Indeed, all together, the glass sector represents several millions of active DoPs, and uploading data manually would increase the risk of mistakes and necessitate prohibitive human, financial, and technical resources for glass manufacturers and SMEs.
Art. 17 Rules and conditions for the affixing of CE marking
- It will be extremely difficult for manufacturers to generate the permalink to the products registration in the EU system (see Article 17(2)(d)) during production, with their own IT system, and without interference from maintenance on, or dysfunction of, the EU system. This implies that the manufacturer shall register the DoP in the EU system at the reception of the order from their client. Otherwise, unnecessary delivery delays and production interruptions will be inflicted on all stakeholders, including SMEs which are often dependent on bigger manufacturers’ IT systems to produce their own DoPs.
Art. 19 Obligations of all economic operators
- The EU system will need to be capable of handling gigantic amounts of data in a very short time. One single glass manufacturer can have more than 100’000 DoPs for products that are already on the market and tens of new ones may be created each day. The two-month delay to register all currently active DoPs, which seems overly ambitious, needs to be extended.
Annex II Declaration of Performance and of Conformity
- The content of the DoP includes items that are not relevant to certain product types (see technical comment on Annex II, p. 5). Unnecessary data multiplied by all DoPs will demand large storage capacities, leading to high financial and environmental costs.
- The possibility to use “NPD” when no performance is declared has been omitted (currently, it is specified in Article 6(2)(6) of Regulation 305/2011). When no performance is declared for a specific characteristic, its denomination should be kept in the DoP and the line remains empty to enable simple interactions with Smart CE-marking and Building Information Modelling. Numbering items is also not adapted to modern IT systems and should not be mandatory.
3. Utilise the CPR as a driver of sustainability in the construction sector
Glass for Europe welcomes the focus of the CPR on sustainability issues. This is in line with flat glass manufacturers’ continuous efforts on improving the industry’s environmental performance and the sustainability of its products.
Art. 22 (2)(b) Materials gained from recycling and minimum recycled content
Glass for Europe welcomes the request for manufacturers to give preference to recyclable materials. It shall give momentum to enhance the collection of end-of-life flat glass, boost recycling and allow the production of glass with less raw materials, energy, and CO2 emissions.
The introduction of minimum recycled content could be problematic in practice. It would render glass production dependent on waste availability, which is out of glass manufacturers’ control and can fluctuate in time, thus rendering planning uncertain. It could lead to glass production being disrupted with some products becoming temporarily unavailable.
- If minimum recycled content is introduced, it should be determined in collaboration with manufacturers to consider industrial, local, and recycling infrastructure realities.
Art. 22 (5) Traffic light labelling systems
A traffic-light labelling system is irrelevant for glass products since glass environmental impacts depend on external factors like building design or climate. Products improving the performance of an office building in Northern Italy may be ineffective in a residential home in Southern Italy. Giving a unique indicator per product, that notably ignores other important aspects subjected to national regulation (e.g., safety in use, reaction to fire, noise reduction, etc.), would also mislead users. Over-simplification by way of a label also makes little sense for business-to-business products, as is the case of glass. The choice of glass in buildings is usually informed by professionals.
- Glass for Europe suggests specifying that the traffic-light labelling system applies only to products that can be purchased off-the-shelf and whose sustainability characteristics do not depend on the product’s final application.
- To promote the use of sustainable construction products whose performance depends on the final application in buildings, assessments at building levels, such as the Level(s) methodology developed by the European Commission, are more appropriate.
Art. 22 (2)(j) Recuperation of surplus
Glass for Europe welcomes the possibility for manufacturers to regain ownership of surplus or unsold products. Yet, conditions shall be set to avoid this measure being counterproductive. Returned glass products will always demand new transportation, logistical operations, and storage capacity. Besides, its reuse is most often impossible. For building glass products, which are highly personalised bespoke products, recycling is often the most appropriate option.
- Glass for Europe suggests that bespoke products, which cannot be resold without unreasonable environmental and financial costs, may not be reimbursed by manufacturers.
Art. 22 (2)(g) Spare parts
The demand for spare parts to remain available on the market for 10 years after the production of a product has stopped could lead to an overly expensive obligation of maintaining production lines, trained personnel, and certification process. SMEs would be especially affected by such long-lasting provisions.
- Glass for Europe suggests more flexibility is given to manufacturers for managing spare parts and to allow ‘equivalent or improved parts’ rather than identical ones, when relevant.
4. Strengthen CPR’s single market principles and maintain the structuring role of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)
Glass for Europe welcomes the continuous linkage of the CPR to European Single Market principles. Articles 7 and 8 will reduce the risks of local interferences while the demand for Member States to establish a national information system (Article 77) to share the correct interpretation of the CPR rules should guarantee all actors’ comprehension. The provisions of Article 34 will also ensure that the complexity of the numerous glass products marketed in the EU is dealt with adequately by maintaining the major role of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) in developing harmonised standards and allowing experts to be involved through technical committees.
Art. 18 Other markings
- Glass for Europe welcomes the primacy given to the CE marking. This will reduce the risk that local trade barriers penalise manufacturers from other Member States.
Art. 87 Delegated acts
- Using delegated acts to give momentum to some standardisation processes should be done wisely; certain technical difficulties, or the need for additional tests, may only be manageable with supplementary time.
 Guidance Paper M – CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT UNDER THE CPD: Initial type-testing and Factory production control. https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/nando/index.cfm?fuseaction=cp.pdf&rfb_id=108135
 ‘Improved’ in terms of functionality and Basic Requirements for Construction Works (Annex I Part A)