Some News on German DIBt approval of low emitting construction products


German DIBt approval of construction products before entry into market will have to change, to comply with European law, see the background described here: www.eurofins.com/dibt-barrier.

Reliable information on what will change was expected in October 2015. But as of mid November 2015, the situation still remains unclear.

These are the facts we are aware of:

  1. The German national abZ approvals in principle are illegal for CE marked products since the decision of the European Court on 16 October 2014.
  2. But instead of having to apply this immediately, DIBt was granted a transition period of 2 years. This will end on 16 October 2016.
  3. The regulation (“Musterbauordnung”), the associated “Bauregellisten B part 1”, as well as the Ü mark will disappear on 16 October 2016 for CE marked products. No abZ approvals will be issued by DIBt for CE marked products after 16 October 2016.
  4. The Ü mark must not be used any longer for CE marked products after the 16 October 2016, probably with a sell-through period for products on stock.
  5. The abZ approvals that are freshly granted or will be issued until 16 October 2016 will be valid until maximum 2020. Any abZ approval of a CE marked product cannot be required by German authorities after 16 October 2016 any longer, but they may be useful in the market, as it may take some years before the disappearance of the abZ and Ü mark system is known by all German architects and planners.
    It is though unclear whether the annual surveillance (inspection and re-testing), as required in the abZ approval to maintain its validity, still can be legally required once the legal basis has disappeared. On the other hand, the validity of the abZ approvals is connected clearly to the annual surveillance.
  6. Applications for new abZ approvals or for abZ changes must reach the DIBt at the latest on 31 January 2016. Or rather on January 29, as the 31st is a Sunday. After that date, applications are no longer possible for CE marked products.
  7. Products that do not fall under the CE marking regulations will NOT experience any change, such as flooring adhesives and parquet varnishes.

Consequence:

In earlier times, CE mark plus Ü mark showed serviceability of a product to be used in German construction works. From 16 October 2016, CE mark alone will do that job. All CE marked products can be distributed in all Member States of the European Union without national restrictions then.

For very most concerned products, today CE mark does not yet require to include a declaration of VOC emissions into indoor air in the declaration of performance. Until this is given, the user cannot read from CE marking whether it is legal to use the product in all Member States of the EU, which is in contrast to the intentions of the CE mark.

It can be expected that in Germany there will be established requirements on indoor air quality in certain categories of buildings that may need the use of low emitting products (AgBB compliant), see below.

This means that distribution of a CE marked construction product is allowed, but the use of this product may face problems if its use results in higher pollution of the indoor air than Germany will accept for certain categories of buildings. This is legal, because the European law forbids national restrictions of the distribution and use of construction products, but it allows national restrictions of the indoor quality in certain categories of buildings, such as apartments, schools, etc.

Plans and ideas (as far as known at the publication date of this information):

German authorities plan to issue a German Technical Settlement “TBB Technische Baubestimmung Anforderungen an Bauwerke bezüglich des Gesundheitsschutzes”. As no details have been published yet, we are reporting here what we heard in a hearing mid November 2015, and what we conclude from that information. But this may be different from the final TBB.

We at Eurofins assume (but we do not really know) that this TBB will contain the requirement that indoor air shall not exceed certain limits in certain categories of buildings, and that use only of AgBB compliant products can be regarded as a proof of fulfilment of this requirement. It still is unclear how the proof of AgBB compliance of CE marked products needs to be declared in the future, but the TBB probably will contain quality requirements for that declaration, further than just testing.

Possibly this regulation will allow for several options to show AgBB compliance:

  • For products that can be CE marked, meaning that there is a harmonized EN standard which was mandated and approved by the European Commission for use with CE marking:
    • CE marking based on such a harmonized EN standard, if this contains a declaration of VOC emissions, and if the declared performance shows AgBB compliance.
      In the long run this will be the mainstream option, but today harmonized EN standards with such declaration of VOC emissions do not yet exist.
    • CE marking based on a European Technical Approval ETA, if this contains a declaration of VOC emissions, and if the declared performance shows AgBB compliance.
    • If none of the above is given, but still the product is CE marked, possibly still existing abZ approvals may serve this purpose. Possibly also other tools can be used to show AgBB compliance, such as independent labels, if these fulfill certain quality requirements – but this is still very open.
      In the case that this comes, then the Indoor Air Comfort product certification might be one out of several candidates for this option: Its basic level shows compliance with all legal requirements on VOC emissions in any Member State of the EU, AgBB included, and it includes the same level of external surveillance as the present DIBt regulation does.
  • For products that do not fall under the CE marking regulations, such as flooring adhesives and parquet varnishes:
    • abZ approval by DIBt and the Ü mark, as before.

With that, Ü mark will be obsolete and must not be used for CE marked products any longer after 16 October 2016, and an abZ approval will have no legal relevance for CE marked products any longer.

But the abZ, within its validity and if surveyed by a surveillance body, can show to the participants of the market that the German AgBB VOC emissions requirements are respected – on top of what is declared in the CE mark related declaration of performance.

Should you apply for extended validity of your abZ?

Manufacturers of concerned products urgently need to know how things will develop and how they should act. DIBt recommends that all holders of an abZ approval apply for extension of its validity until the maximum possible date, 2020 (if not already the case) – even though holding an abZ cannot be required by authorities after 16 October 2016 any longer.

It is an issue of market evaluation. Many companies follow that advice, and they plan to use the abZ document to show low emissions of their products to the actors in the market even after 16 October 2016. At the same time, this is unfair because new products, or changed products (e.g. after a name change), will have no chance to obtain an abZ approval if the application cannot be sent in until 31 January. This will result in a market distortion after a short while. But this is how it looks today.

In any case, if a manufacturer wants to maintain its abZ after 16 Oct 2016 then the application for any change or any extension of its validity has to reach the DIBt until 31 January 2016 – even if some documents or test reports still are missing; these can be delivered during the approval process. The same applies to any application for a new abZ approval.

And if a manufacturer wants to maintain its abZ until its maximum validity, the annual surveillance needs to be continued to maintain the validity of the abZ document, as described in the abZ itself, but after 16 October 2016 there is no publicly legal basis for that activity – this is based only on private agreement and private jurisdiction then.

We would have preferred to deliver more stringent advice, but at the publication date of this information this was not possible because the revision of the German regulation is not yet clear enough. Each company has to draw its own conclusions now.

Disclaimer

It is difficult to give clear recommendations because the planned future regulation in Germany was not yet published. All above statements were made to our best knowledge and belief. We will not accept any liability if things develop in a different direction than predicted, as we do not have any influence on the decisions. Please be cautious in making your own conclusions, and we propose that you follow this VOC Blog to be updated as soon as we hear more.

 

 

 

 

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About Eurofins Product Testing A/S - VOC testing

Eurofins Product Testing A/S is the market leader world-wide for VOC emissions chamber testing, operating several hundreds of test chambers of different sizes, experienced with VOC emission chamber testing since 1989. In cooperation with Eurofins VOC testing labs in China and in Japan. Many News appear continuously that can be important for industry, authorities and associations. This Blog shows News on VOC emissions testing for regulations in Germany, France and Belgium as well as for LEED, BREEAM, Indoor air Comfort, EMICODE, Blue Angel, CDPH Section 1350 and more.
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One Response to Some News on German DIBt approval of low emitting construction products

  1. Pingback: December 2015 News on German DIBt approval of low emitting construction products | VOC emissions testing

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