BBA consults on tighter, costlier certification for high-rise buildings

BBA chief executive Hardy Giesler

In an exclusive interview with The Construction Index’s Re:Construction podcast this week, BBA chief executive Hardy Giesler revealed his plans for an Agrément Plus system for high-rise buildings.

He said that the inquiry into the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire had exposed weaknesses in the buildings products certification system.

“For that reason we have this week launched a consultation on a new product called Agrément Plus, which will run alongside the Agrément process,” he said.

(Agrément – the French word for agreement – is the process by which BBA provides independent third-party confirmation of manufacturers’ product performance claims.)

He explained: “Agrément Plus is focused on the high risk [high-rise] residential buildings, typically 10 stories or higher. We know that, from a strength and from a fire perspective, and some other performance elements, that those buildings present a particular challenge to construction products. Therefore we believe that a higher standard for certification needs to be achieved for products used in those environments.”

Not only will the testing be more rigorous, with the addition of chemical analysis of components and ingredients, but it is also likely to be costlier, Mr Giesler acknowledged, due to the additional work involved. For this reason, he is seeking support from BBA customers – the manufacturers that pay to have their building products certified.

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Asked whether Agrément Plus might be extended to other equally safety-critical but less topical applications, such as in ATEX explosion-proof environments or sealing landfill sites to contain methane, he said that was something to be considered later.

“We may extend it beyond high risk residential buildings but this is the starting point for us because it is the most critical aspect of performance, as far as construction products are concerned, that needs to be addressed.”

Hardy Giesler joined the BBA as chief executive in January 2020. He told Re:Construction of his priorities for the organisation. “I want BBA to be relevant in the construction industry,” he said, “to be a client- and market-focused organisation, and to be systems driven.”

He said: “I am not happy with anything in the BBA until we have proved that our clients respect what we do, see the value in what we do, and see that it is value for money.”

Hardy Giesler appears on the 10th February 2021 episode of Re:Construction (Episode 49).  You can download it and/or subscribe to the podcast at all the usual outlets (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts etc) or directly online at www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/podcast

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