13 May 2021

The success of any project depends upon the asset’s performance, and an asset’s performance hinges on the integrity of its elements. This includes the systems, products and materials that make up the element and the standard of workmanship applied during construction and installation. Using construction products with third-party certification helps assure specifiers that the product – or an aspect of the product – has been inspected and endorsed by an accredited, independent third party. Areas where third-party certification can be obtained include:

  • Organisation
  • Facility
  • Manufacturing process
  • System
  • Whole product
  • Product characteristic
  • Service

The certification process generally includes an inspection and/ or full review of the aspect that is being certified. It may also include an assessment of associated paperwork to make sure that it is accurate. Having that certification means that the independent party has deemed that the organisation, facility, product, system, service or process complies with specific quality, performance and safety standards. For products, third party certification is often recommended as an addition to a declaration of conformity (DOC) or declaration of performance (DOP).

Declaration of conformity

A DOC is a manufacturer’s formal declaration that a product meets all applicable requirements, directives and regulations. When issued, a DOC provides a level of assurance that the product has been designed and constructed according to essential requirements and that it has been through the appropriate conformity assessment processes.

Declaration of performance

The DOP gives a manufacturer a way to relay essential product characteristics like fire resistance or airtightness. This helps ensure that the selected product is suitable for the purpose as stated and provides a level of assurance that the product will perform as needed under desired conditions. A DOP is required when placing a product on the market either covered by a hEN or UK designated standard or issued with a European Technical Assessment (ETA). The DOP defines how the product performs against the essential characteristics defined in the relevant standard and is the manufacturer’s formal acceptance of responsibility for their product performing as declared.

hENs and Designated Standards

A hEN is a harmonised European standard that applies to construction products sold in the European single market. hENs are recognised by the European standards organisations CEN, CENELEC or ESTI. Manufacturers, economic operators and conformity assessment bodies (CE marking) use hENs to demonstrate that a product, system, service or process complies with the relevant European legislation.

Designated Standards are the UK equivalents for products heading to the Great Britain market (England, Scotland, Wales) from 01 January 2021. The government maintains a list of designated standards for construction products on the GOV.UK website. Currently, hENs and Designated Standards are identical; however, it is logical to assume that, over time, differences will develop. Manufacturers, economic operators and conformity assessment bodies (CE, UKNI, UKCA) will need to refer to the relevant standard based on which market they will be selling in – EU, Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

The British Board of Agrément

One of the UK’s leading certification bodies is The British Board of Agrément (BBA), which provides manufacturers with impartial assessment, auditing, testing and certification of products and systems, including product development. Early assessment findings can feed into product development and support a manufacturer’s application for full BBA approval. Because BBA certification provides an additional layer of assurance, products that have achieved the mark will often reach their intended market more quickly than those without it.

UK Accreditation Service

Any organisation that wishes to provide third party certification, testing and inspection services must themselves be accredited. The UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) is one of the primary organisations that offer this, and while Government-independent, it is the only national accreditation service Government-recognised.

Why third-party certification is important

Independent, third-party certification helps a manufacturer or economic operator distinguish themselves from other suppliers by offering a higher level of assurance that the product, system or service they are supplying meets the relevant safety, quality and performance regulations. By obtaining third party certification, manufacturers demonstrate a higher level of care, which allows their products to be more quickly accepted into the marketplace. It also provides a level of defence should a product be found faulty. For consumers, third-party certification means that they can purchase a product with more confidence and be assured that a handling system is in place to identify unsafe products and prohibit or remove them from being sold in the marketplace. For specifiers, third party certification provides reassurance that the products they select have been tested to industry standards – whether it is the whole product or a key product characteristic –and that it will perform as stated when installed or fitted as instructed.

Source and Chorus, bringing manufacturers and specifiers together

NBS Source is a digital platform that brings manufacturers and specifiers together. Developed for manufacturers, the building product library places their products directly in front of the people who matter as they are making product decisions. NBS Chorus is a flexible cloud-based specification platform that allows specifiers to access their specifications across locations and organisations. It is suited to both performance and prescriptive specifying and has editable clauses that are supported by technical guidance.