ATEx, Technical Approval, ETE
Technical assessmentof innovations
Technical Experimentation Assessments (ATEx) on the rise
Applications for Technical Experimentation Assessments (ATEx) were up 15% in 2016 over the previous year. This confirms the rise observed over the past few years, in line with the recovery of the construction sector, starting in 2016. In a context of energy and digital transition, industrial and construction companies continue to innovate. The support of the CSTB, especially through the streamlined ATEx assessments which facilitates access to Technical Approvals, boosts the emergence of innovation and accelerates the successful marketing of innovative products and systems.
In 2016, the innovations assessed mainly concerned structural elements, while the number of innovations concerning the building envelope remained stable. Most of the requests were for Type A ATEx assessments, whereas in previous years, Type B ATEx assessments were more common. This trend reflects how enabling the stakeholders to choose the type of ATEx that most closely matches their project facilitates implementation on a reference worksite before undertaking the Technical Approval Procedure.
What’s the difference? the Type A ATEx enables the innovation to be implemented for a limited time and in limited quantities. The Type B ATEx validates the testing of the innovation in a specific construction project.
Launch of the “ATEx & Simplified Regulations” service
Obligation to deliver results rather than obligation of means. Two new decrees issued in 2015 concerning Fire and Accessibility reflect this logic. They enable stakeholders to use innovative solutions as an alternative to those described in the regulations, provided that they achieve the same outcomes. This makes room for architectural and technical creativity and fosters experimentation while still requiring a high level of performance.
With the new ATEx & Simplified Regulations service launched in June 2016, the CSTB guides stakeholders who wish to use alternative solutions. Independent experts issue an opinion on the ability of the solution to achieve the outcomes required by the regulation, thereby providing assurance to the construction industry and government agencies responsible for granting these exemptions. As the sector evolves towards more energy-efficient, economical, high-performance construction methods, the CSTB is strengthening its role as a facilitator. The 1st ATEx & Simplified Regulations applications are currently being reviewed.
Modernization of the Technical Approval: prioritizing innovation
To provide more support for innovation on the market, the Commission responsible for issuing Technical Approvals (CCFAT) has adapted its regulations to refocus the scope on the most innovative products and systems. Some of these have achieved robust feedback from the field and have become more mainstream. By the end of 2016, 453 product families were covered by an ATec. The list of these product families is available at ccfat.fr.
Decisions on Technical Approvals emanating from the Specialized Groups (SG) have evolved, illustrating that the SGs’ technical judgments take greater account of feedback from construction projects and research-based advances in scientific knowledge.
Based on an annual review of precedents set by Technical Approvals, the Specialized Groups identify the necessary revisions and eliminate any significant difference in the wording of ATec approvals. They also make routine revisions within a processing period that enables companies to adapt. This information is updated and shared to prevent, for example, two similar products that obtained their Technical Approvals at different times from having significantly different areas of application.
The list of minimum evidence required for any Technical Approval application also takes account of the latest precedents. The list is compiled and updated regularly by the Specialized Groups, after systematically examining the technical judgment criteria for each combination of product / area-of-application. The list is available, together with updated ATec results, at ccfat.fr.
The ATec precedents will soon be available in full to applicants and holders of Technical Approvals through a new online database, OCAPI, by fall 2017. The development of this service for the professionals of the construction industry follows on directly from the plan to modernize the Technical Approval procedure, initiated in 2012 by the CCFAT. This service contributes to providing fair market access to innovative products.
In line with these initiatives, the Technical Approval application fees changed on January 1, 2017. It now includes the cost associated with managing product families with Technical Approvals. A discount for new Technical Approval applications and revisions has been added. In this way, the CCFAT encourages innovators who are new to the market, while maintaining its support for small and midsize companies who benefit from a 30% discount on their first Technical Approval application. The new fees can be obtained from the CCFAT office(firstname.lastname@example.org).
Development of the European Technical Assessment
In 2016, three years after the implementation of the Construction Product Regulation, the number of European Technical Assessments (ETA) handled by the CSTB was up 20% from the previous year. Most of these ETAs were issued on the basis of existing European Assessment Guidelines. The development of the European Technical Assessments has facilitated the free circulation of construction products while supporting the homogenization of approaches and the simplification of assessment procedures for standard and non-standard products in Europe.
What's a European Technical Assessment?
Since July 1, 2013, a European regulation has replaced the European Directive on bringing construction products to market. The European Technical Assessment, which is part of the new European Construction Products Regulation (CPR), replaces the European Technical Approval. This means that European Technical Approvals, which were based on the principle of approval and a validity period limited to 5 years, must be converted into European Technical Assessments, based on the principle of assessment and with no validity period.
The European Technical Assessment is a voluntary procedure that precedes the Declaration of Performance and CE marking of a non-standard or innovative product. Concerning products covered by harmonized European standards, their manufacturers are required to issue a Declaration of Performance and to affix CE marking.