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In the following, we would like to inform you about the meaning of the different quality seals, labels, permits, and other key words frequently mentioned concerning installation materials or that can be found on tags and product data sheets.
The topics of absence of harmful substances/low emissions output and healthy living are very important for housing occupants. Relevant emissions seals like the EMICODE or the Blue Angel can be furnished by the manufacturer as proof of fulfilling stringent requirements.
To systematically facilitate and document the sustainability of entire buildings, a number of building certification systems have been established in the last several years. Subsequently, in Germany (and also in Europe) we have described the relevant building certifications with the acronyms DGNB, LEED, and BREEAM. Here it’s important to know that the individual products are not certified, but rather the building as a whole. Building products must fulfil certain respective criteria in order to be used in these green buildings.
The EMICODE describes the emissions behaviour of installation products and other building products by assigning them to the emissions classes EC 1 Plus through EC 2 (in order of increasing emissions level). Only classes EC 1 Plus (very low-emission) and EC 1 (very low-emission) have practical significance. The EMICODE is the most prevalent environmental symbol for installation products. The labelling is done voluntarily by the manufacturer based on applicable product emissions tests, and licensing is done by the Association for the Control of Emissions in Products for Flooring Installation, Adhesives, and Building Materials (GEV). The EMICODE is the only quality seal for installation materials for which products are purchased on the free market and inspected in a testing institute to make sure they comply with the EMICODE endorsement. The manufacturer faces sanctions in the event of violations, up to losing their EMICODE licence.
Click here for the Emicode Video.
The Blue Angel is awarded for different product categories based on respective relevant test criteria. Lacquers are tested based on DE-UZ 12a. After external testing of the emissions behaviour, as well as fulfilment of other conditions related to components and packaging or data sheet information, the Blue Angel licence is granted by the German Institute for Quality Assurance and Labelling (RAL). Labelling with the Blue Angel is optional. This is the best known environmental symbol for private end customers.
Learn more about the Blue Angel here.
The product manufacturer uses the CE designation to attest that their product meets the standards of the underlying European standard. Products for which there is a standardised EN norm (or ETAG), must carry the CE label and the manufacturer must provide evidence of quality assurance measures. The CE label on the product packaging conveys the significant technical features of a product, such as the compressive strength of a screed. Examples of installation materials include screed mortars (→ DIN EN 13813) or tile adhesives (→ DIN EN 12004). The CE label is not taken by itself as a quality feature of a product. However, the label means that the manufacturer takes responsibility for monitoring all the features declared on it and abiding by that long-term. In addition, the manufacturer must provide their customers with a declaration of performance for all building products that carry a CE label (generally on their website), which likewise declares the significant benefits of the product.
The German mark of conformity (also abbreviated to Ü mark) indicates the usability of a building product in Germany. The Ü mark is evidence that the product in question meets national building inspectorate guidelines set forth by the Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik (German Institute for Building Technology, or DlBt) to prove certain product features. This applies to floor covering or wood flooring adhesives, for example, which have been subject to requirement for licensing for about five years in Germany if these products are intended for processing in common rooms. In the case of adhesives, certification is granted if certain requirements on emissions behaviour are demonstrated through an appropriate emissions test.
However, the DIBt’s long-standing practice is no longer permitted to additionally regulate building approval for products that have already been granted the CE label, as this was the case for floor coverings and wood flooring, for example. With the C-100/13 decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of 16 October 2014, these national additional requirements for building products harmonised by European standards (CE-labelled) are no longer permitted. The requirement for the Ü mark for these types of products was thus dropped as of 16/10/2016
Since 2012 in France, building products have needed to be classified based on their emission levels and labelled with the emissions classes A+, A, B, or C, whereby A+ is the best emissions class and C is the poorest. This labelling obligation applies for all building products that are processed indoors on an ongoing basis. The manufacturer categorises their product into one of the four emissions classes based on a defined product emissions test.
he German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen - DGNB e.V.) awards the quality seal for sustainable building in the context of Green Building. The DGNB has developed a building certification system that fully assesses the building. It evaluates the ecological, sociocultural, and economic aspects of a building. In comparison to other building certification systems (LEED, BREEAM), the DGNB quality seal deals in-depth with the economics of a building. Structures can be awarded DGNB Platinum, Gold, or Silver depending on their total score reached.
As a result, building products must meet these specific criteria in order to be used at DGNB sites. The impact of products on indoor air quality is of great concern to the DGNB. The products to be used can achieve one of four quality levels for this, whereby 1 is the lowest and 4 is the best level of quality. A life cycle assessment for the whole building is also prepared in the DGNB system. EPDs play a role in this.
Uzin Utz has been a DGNB member since 2008.
To make planning sustainable buildings easier, the German Sustainable Building Council developed the DGNB Navigator. The free online database holds all the information necessary about sustainable building products in one place. The data stored about these installation products, architects, and planners provides comprehensive information that was prepared to match about 50 DGNB criteria, without expending a lot of effort researching. Products with a complete LCA are also awarded the DGNB Navigator Label. If you enter the registration code from the Navigator Label on the DGNB Navigator homepage, you’ll be taken directly to the product page.
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is a building certification system that originally came from Great Britain, but which has since been implemented in many countries. The evaluation system provides a comprehensive examination of ecological and sociocultural aspects of the sustainability of buildings. Buildings can be rated against the BREEAM criteria on a scale of “pass, good, very good, excellent, and outstanding”.
BREEAM also imposes requirements on products that mainly concern indoor air quality. In addition, certain health-threatening substances may not be used in BREEAM projects.