EU approach to the Digital Product Passport of the construction industry

A Spanish-Norwegian Consortium supported by a large group of industry stakeholders will conduct a feasibility study on an EU database defined in the future Regulation for construction products. The objective is to define a system for a digital product passport considering the need of digital information from regulators, manufacturers and other actors in the construction value chain.

The consortium of Cobuilder, TECNALIA and UNE won a tender which should deliver a technical assessment for different solutions of an EU database or system for construction products to the European Commission. This system is envisioned in the revision to the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), currently under development.

The expected changes will have both a practical and legal impact for the construction industry, such as the possible implementation of Construction Digital Product Passports and detailed documentation of environmental data.

“The revised CPR aims to make the construction industry contribute to the digital and green transition and promote efficiency in the value chain,” says Aitor Aragón, responsible for Sustainable construction and BIM at the Spanish Association of Standardization (UNE), one of the consortium participants.

A first step will be to decide on the future data infrastructure to support the changes needed. This is where the set-up of an EU database for construction products becomes important for the EU market and the member states. The goal is to ensure that all stakeholders in the industry across different geographies share the data of construction products in a common standardised way.

“We need to understand and decide how product data should be structured, shared and managed on a cross-industry level. The reason why we haven’t succeeded with this earlier is the fragmented nature of the construction industry and its complexity. The push and sense of urgency now coming with the European Green Deal and the need for digitalisation, will definitively take us to the next level,” says Lars Chr. Fredenlund, CEO of Norwegian tech company Cobuilder.

Lars Chr. Fredenlund, at the buildingSMART International Standards Summit in Lillestrøm, Norway

Feasibility study for a digital product passport and registry for construction products

The main objective of the project is to do a feasibility study on five different options for setting up a database or system at EU level storing information regarding construction products. TECNALIA, a centre of Applied research and technological development in Spain, is the third partner in the consortium.

“The study will evaluate combinations of centralised and decentralised solutions, analysing pros and cons from the technological point of view, and from the perspective of different stakeholders such as the EU Commission, manufacturers, market surveillance authorities and information consumers,” says Amaia Castelruiz Aguirre, senior researcher at TECNALIA.

Industry partners on board

In addition to the contracted consortium participants, the bid is supported by a broad group of industry stakeholders across Europe, such as FIEC, Construction SMEs Europe, GS1, BuildingSMART International, and more.

Figuring out how a common EU database or system for construction products can be set up, how to exchange data via a digital declaration of performance (smart CE-marking), and how to use data dictionaries, represents an opportunity and an important step towards solving how ambitious legislation and regulative initiatives can be merged and implemented in practice. This will definitely move the industry as a whole towards the European Green Deal targets. The work on the study is already underway and a start-up meeting with the European Commission has been carried out on 5 October.

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