BRANZ able to constructively work with product certification

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The Department of Building and Housing (DBH) recently published new and updated information regarding the introduction and workings of its new Building Product Certification (CodeMark) Scheme as required under the 2004 Building Act.

BRANZ has been offering product and system appraisals for more than 30 years. They remain the most prevalent and recognised form of independent third party assurance, readily accepted by Building Consent Authorities in the current market.
BRANZ has been closely monitoring the development of the DBH Product Certification Scheme, and now that the final shape is becoming clear, BRANZ’s optimal involvement in the scheme is also becoming clear.

We believe there is a very workable model for the scheme that will provide the right solution for the New Zealand construction industry, as outlined in the diagram at right.
Internationally, the rules associated with product certification (ISO Guide 65) prevent an organisation such as BRANZ being both the Building Product Certification Body (BPCB) and the actual testing agent for the product/system.

While there is a slight modification to this requirement in the New Zealand Product Certification (CodeMark) rules, in practice it will be extremely difficult for any organisation to be both a BPCB and the testing agent.

Should BRANZ become a BPCB, therefore, we believe we would forfeit the ability to assist the industry through the appraisal product testing and development service that we are currently recognised for.

The Building Product Certification scheme essentially has two main steps:
• Products and systems submitted for certification are processed by BPCBs, who are the overarching approving authority.
• For BPCBs to certify that a product is compliant with the New Zealand Building Code, the product must have undergone independent and rigorous authoritative testing work carried out by a recognised testing agent against testing criteria developed to conform with the New Zealand Building Code.

Accordingly, BRANZ is actively working with the BPCBs who are most likely to operate in New Zealand to ensure BRANZ becomes a nominated testing agent — ie, when a manufacturer/product distributor approaches a BPCB to have a product certified, BRANZ will be the testing agent a product manufacturer can use for testing.

So, in that regard, BRANZ can assist its appraisal clients to get their products through to the product certification level, if that’s what they decide is the best route to market for their product.

BRANZ, therefore, has been working on the design of a “staircased” product assurance framework.
This staircase model allows manufacturers, designers, specifiers, builders and clients to align the relevant product assurance methodology with the appropriate level of risk in use (eg, compare door knobs which are low risk, and exterior claddings which are potentially high risk) applicable to their product.

BRANZ intends to use this staircase model to underpin our strategy in the product assurance area.
Currently, a BRANZ appraisal ensures nationwide coverage and a smoothed path of acceptance for the product with all decision makers, including designers, specifiers and Building Consent Authorities.

The staircase model means BRANZ has the ability to work with manufacturers to develop the right solution for their product/market segment — whether that be “upstream” in the area of product certification, or “downstream” in the area of product assessment.

Anyone interested in reviewing the details of how the Australian CodeMark scheme functions, or for more information, should visit
http://www.abcb.gov.au/go/products/codemark/whatiscodemarkwww.dbh.co.nz.
We will continue to explore the most suitable approach for the industry — and for BRANZ — to keep our clients and stakeholders suitably informed.