European legislation and regulations

A. Regulations, directives

a) Construction Products Regulation

This regulation aims to improve internal market functioning and facilitate the free movement of construction products within the EU by providing a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products and by establishing uniform rules for their marketing.
The common technical language is contained in basic functional requirements for construction works and from there into essential characteristics of construction products, which are published by the manufacturer in performance declarations. EU countries remain responsible for the regulations applicable to construction and civil engineering works.

The basic requirements for construction works and essential characteristics of construction products form the basis for establishing assessment methods and harmonised technical specifications.
Construction works are understood to be architectural and civil engineering structures. A construction product is any product or kit that is produced and placed on the market for permanent incorporation in construction works or parts of these, where these products impact the performance of the construction works in terms of the basic requirements for construction works. Looking at the text, it is expected that the scope will be the same as the Environmental Performance Assessment Method for Construction Works: methodical requirements for assessing environmental performance of construction and other products, installations and processes.

The Basic Work Requirements (BWR) for construction works are:

  1. Mechanical resilience and stability
  2. Fire safety
  3. Hygiene, health and environment
    Construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they do not form a threat to the hygiene, health and safety of workers, occupants and local residents throughout their life cycle, and will not exert excessive impact on environmental quality or climate during their construction, use or demolition, in particular as a result of:
    a) the release of toxic gases
    b) the emission of hazardous substances, volatile organic compounds, greenhouse gases or hazardous particulates in indoor or outdoor air
    c) the emission of hazardous radiation
    d) the release of hazardous substances in groundwater, seawater, surface water or in the soil
    e) the release of hazardous substances in drinking water or that affect drinking water in any negative way
    f) inadequate wastewater drainage, emission of flue gases or incorrect disposal of solid or liquid wastes
    g) moisture accumulation in parts or on inner surfaces of the building. 4.4.2011 Publication sheet from the European Union L 88/33 NL
  4. Safety and accessibility in use
  5. Protection from noise
  6. Energy-saving and heat retention
  7. Sustainable use of natural resources.
    The construction works must be designed, built and demolished in such a way that natural resources are used sustainably and that particularly the following are safeguarded:
    a) the reuse or recyclability of the construction work and its materials and parts after demolition
    b) the sustainability of the construction works
    c) the use of environmentally-friendly raw materials and secondary materials in the construction works.

b) Energy-related Products Directive (Ecodesign)

The Ecodesign Directive is a framework directive that allows requirements to be set for energy-related products with a significant potential for improvement. In the Netherlands, the directive was implemented in October 2007 in the Environment Management Act, the Energy Conservation Devices Act and the Economic Offences Act.
The directive creates a framework for the establishment of further requirements – a so-called Environmental profile – and implementing measures. An Environmental profile is a description of the inputs and outputs (such as raw materials, emissions and waste) associated with a product throughout its life cycle that are significant in terms of their environmental impact.

The aim of the directive is to contribute to sustainable development by increasing energy efficiency and the level of environmental protection. The scope of the directive is broader than only installations. Energy-related products are understood to mean: any goods that have an impact on energy consumption during use that are placed on the market and/or put into service, including parts intended to be incorporated into energy-related products covered by this Directive and that are placed on the market and/or put into service as individual parts for end-users and of which the environmental performance can be assessed independently.

Double glazing, insulation materials and similar would also fall under this definition. Formally, these are products that fall under the Construction Products Regulation and for which the BWR places technical specifications with respect to the environment. This is a harmonisation issue that has not yet been resolved by the Commission.

c) Single Market for Green Products Initiative (PEF – Product Environmental Footprint)

A company that wishes to market its product as environmentally friendly in several European countries is confronted with a series of methods and initiatives. The company will sometimes have to use different methods for their product in different markets, resulting in additional costs for companies and confusion for consumers.
The European Commission aims to harmonise this and has established the ‘Single Market for Green Products Initiative’ project. 

An important part of this project is the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint). The aim is to make it easier for companies to put environmentally friendly (green) products on the European market and for consumers to identify environmentally friendly qualities. The Commission has designed the PEF method in cooperation with the Joint Research Centre (JRC), as EU Science Hub.

The PEF method was designed to standardise the measurement of a product’s environmental performance.

The PEF is primarily intended for business-to-consumer (B2C) information. For business to business (B2B) communications on the performance of construction products, the Construction Products Regulation applies.
It is important for everyone that assessing the Environmental footprint is aligned with existing assessment methods for construction works and construction products within CEN (see B1)

d) Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The directive is a so-called framework directive and requires Member States to introduce system requirements for buildings’ energy performance, for effective installation, dimensioning and adjustment of technical building systems and for their configurability, whether newly installed, replaced or upgraded in existing buildings. Technical building systems are understood to mean systems for space heating, space cooling, ventilation, domestic hot water, built-in lighting, local power generation, and building automation and control systems. The directive has been implemented in the Building Decree with the so-called BENG regulations.

The Directive sets several conditions on the energy performance of buildings assessment method, including that the method must be transparent, open to innovation and that the energy performance of buildings should be expressed in kWh/(m2 per year). This system has been incorporated within NTA 8800, the successor to NEN 7120. This means that energy performance will also be expressed as a numerical indicator of primary energy consumption in kWh/(m2 per year) on a building’s energy label. This indicator will be determined with the NTA 8800. The Energy Performance of Buildings Decree will be amended so that the energy label contains this numerical indicator and not just a letter or letter combination. This amendment offers space to further incorporate the new assessment method into energy label and related instrument regulations. The details will be included in other amended regulations that are being drawn up.
This concerns:

  • system requirements for technical construction systems
  • documenting the energy performance of technical construction systems
  • self-regulating equipment to regulate temperature per room or zone
  • charging infrastructure for electric cars
  • inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems
  • building automation and control systems

The aim of this directive is essentially to reduce energy demand – the amount of kWh. To calculate environmental impact, LCA and other impact energy carrier categories are needed that are used for the numbers of kWh.