The story of BBA certification

The BBA – or British Board of Agrément to give it its full name – has been an established part of the UK construction industry for more than 50 years, with the sole aim of providing specifiers, installers, users, regulators, manufacturers, insurers and the public with the reassurance they require that building products are safe, reliable, fit for purpose and correctly installed, explains Ramona Donnelly, Operations Manager – Engineering at the BBA.

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This remit includes encouraging the safe development and adoption of new and innovative construction solutions, where BBA certification is often considered imperative when a product enters the market, especially if there is no CE Marking available (see FC&A October). It is a wide remit and one that takes the BBA in a number of directions but always with the desire to deliver the highest quality services, ranging from product approvals to installer schemes, management systems to product testing.

BBA certificates are the ‘face’ of the organisation and represent all that is best about the construction industry. Specifiers and contractors using products and solutions holding an Agrément certificate gained through the BBA’s independent, third-party assessment process know that they are fit for purpose and benefit from relevant product and regulatory information pooled together into one source.

But how much do you know about the various types of certification the BBA offers? Each category includes a number of schemes that apply to different sectors.

BBA product approval

Product approval, as the name suggests, applies to construction products and systems which require independent third-party certification either to comply with applicable standards and regulations or to demonstrate superior quality and credibility in a competitive market. Bearing a product approval is a symbol of quality and reassurance, helping manufacturers ensure their products are accepted by specifiers, contractors, local authorities, insurers etc.

The main approval schemes are BBA Agrèment and BBA HAPAS certification. In addition, the BBA also offers European Technical Assessments (ETAs), Certificates of Conformity (CoC), Certificates of Constancy of Conformity of Factory Production Control – also known as Certificate of Conformity of Performance (CoP) – Micro-Generation Systems (MCS) and Environmental Profile certification. With so many acronyms, the approval process can be confusing, and guidance on how to select the correct certification for your needs depends on understanding what each offers.

BBA Agrèment certificate: this is a third-party approval document which demonstrates that a product/system has been independently assessed against UK Building Regulations and classified as fit for purpose for its intended use. It is a manufacturer’s quality assurance that supports its claims for that specific product and for a specific intended use. BBA Agrèment certificates are valid within the UK and recognised in some other locations around the world, including the Middle East and China. This type of certification can be obtained for any type of construction product and system whether covered by an existing harmonised standard or not.

BBA HAPAS certificate: HAPAS (Highways Authority Product Approval Scheme) is for products and systems used within the highways industry. The approval process verifies them against the requirements of Highways England and its Document Manual for Roads and Bridges. Examples of products that can apply for this type of certification are asphalt, bitumen, materials used for high-friction surfaces, pavements etc. Similarly, civil engineering products such as retaining walls, geogrids, drainage products, soil reinforcement etc. can apply for HAPAS certification.

European Technical Assessment (ETAs): a third-party certification scheme that allows products and systems to be placed on the European market bearing the CE Mark. ETAs are granted for products and systems that do not fall under a harmonised standard. Obtaining an ETA requires assessment against a European Assessment Document (EAD). ETAs, alongside the standardised CE Marking process, demonstrate that products and/or systems meet a minimum set of performance criteria and any product of the same type from within the EU can be comparable by applying the exact assessment method.

Certificate of Conformity (CoC) or Certificate of Constancy of Performance (CoP): both relate to CE Marking. A CoC is assessed against a non-harmonised standard and a CoP against a harmonised standard. Both schemes demonstrate that products meet a minimum set of criteria as defined in the relevant standard and both are generally accompanied by a factory production control scheme which covers continuous annual surveillance of the manufacturing process. However, depending upon the AVCP, the surveillance may be carried out by the same notified body that issues the certification.

Microgeneration certification: assessment for this is carried out against the requirements of BS EN 45011 and relates to zero- or low-carbon heat and power technologies, certifying renewable energy technologies, microgeneration products and installers. This certification is also accompanied by factory production control audits that verify continuous manufacturing processes.

Other types of certification:

Environmental Profile: defines the cradle to grave stages of a specific product or component over a period of life, typically 60 years.

Factory Production Control (FPC): a certificate that demonstrates the manufacturer follows, and their manufacturing process meets, the requirements of a prescribed standard for a specific product type or range.

ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems (QMS): demonstrates that the manufacturer has in place a quality control system for the management of day-to-day activities involving manufacturing, control checks, authorised personnel, training, complaints processes etc. that define the operational activities of the manufacturer in question.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS): an assessment of the system in practice or the manufacturer’s demonstration of the system in accordance with the requirements of the BS EN 14001.

ISO 18001( OHSAS): this assesses a manufacturer’s compliance against BS EN 18001 and is directed at verifying health and safety systems in place.

Conclusion

BBA Certification is a means of demonstrating that products and systems meet specific and set requirements for them to be placed on the market with an intended use. This is backed up by a consistent method of manufacturing and auditing of the manufacturing process.

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