Shopping Guide - Quality Labels and Seal in the Product Jungle
Like food, building materials also bear the seal of quality for consumer protection and quality assurance. In order to benefit from it, one must know it well.
The testing of building materials is now carried out according to mechanical-physical, technical, ecological and health properties. Crafts and consumers should thereby gain an impression of whether a building material is safe. This applies both in structural and static terms, as well as in terms of the environment.
Caution: Anyone who discovers a seal of approval on a building material, should still not be too sure about its overall quality. Each quality label focuses on other property areas of the construction product. Only those who know which quality association checks which properties will be certain that a product will meet its requirements.
Technical quality inspection by the RAL
The technical regulations for construction products are the responsibility of the Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik. On the market, manufacturers may only offer products that comply with these requirements. The Ü-mark or its European equivalent, the CE mark, identifies goods of this kind. The check is carried out by recognized bodies, such as the RAL.
The institution is the German Institute for Quality Assurance. For building materials, this quality assurance mainly refers to the technical characteristics. To this end, the RAL works together with the quality associations of the individual construction product groups. For example, with the Quality Association for Windows and Doors.
Certification of Ecological Properties
In addition to the technical seal of quality, the RAL, in cooperation with the Environmental Agency, also awards the environmental seal of quality "Blue Environmental Angel". This award carries products that ecologically outperform other products with the same technical characteristics. This can, however, take place in different ways and refer to individual product properties.
For example, one building material may be more ecological in terms of ingredients than another. In terms of production, however, it can still be less ecological than a second one. Goods with the seal can also be more environmentally friendly in all areas than related products. Overall, despite this relative optimum, it can still harm the environment. Specifically, this applies to building materials that receive the quality mark for improvements in individual production steps or ingredients compared to the previous year.
Unlike the "blue angel", the TÜV regards the entire lifecycle of a construction product for the certification of environmentally friendly properties. The TÜV seal UT21 is therefore a clearly defined and stricter quality indicator for developers and consumers for environmental properties. Regardless, the TÜV specifically deals with pollutants and awards the TÜV-ASG seal for low emissions.
The fact that a whole series of other seals exists, can sometimes arise contradictions. For example, a product may be awarded by Stiftung Warentest, but may have failed the TÜV test. Building owners and consumers should therefore be cautious about environmental certifications because of the lack of uniformity in this area.
Building-related group-specific quality labels
In addition to general categories, there are also some quality labels that are assigned to the building materials group. For example, the FCS label, which characterizes sustainable forestry, is relevant for wood. For carpets there is the GuT-seal and for cork-floors the cork-logo.
Attention: Seals attached to the building materials group are ideally of worldwide validity. Therefore always ask the question of the uniformity of the quality assurance system with quality seals. Trust in the technical characteristics of the RAL seal and always enjoy ecological seals with care. Otherwise, the label industry still leads to confusion, although it should actually give security.
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