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Last edited 16 Sep 2022
Collaboration, standards and their acronyms explained
It is in the development of standards, that standards organisations come in. Within these organisations, technical committees are the key bodies responsible for the development of standards and will typically comprise experts in a specific field. Members of a committee should be varied so there is diverse input to represent different industries, professions, the government, trade unions and any other relevant stakeholders. The aim of the committee is to gain a formal consensus on the content of a standard.
Standards are voluntary and not mandated in law but, for example with respect to the Machinery Directive, the use of harmonised standards can be used to presume conformity to the Directive (which is the law). There are instances when a standard does become mandatory but this is when they are adopted by regulators as legal requirements.
Unfortunately, the world of standardisation is full of acronyms and in order to talk about them, they need to be used. From CENELEC to a DPC (Draft for Public Comment) acronym's can be confusing, here the author has described in some detail key acronyms relating to standards but you can also visit the Designing Buildings section Construction industry acronyms for further help.
In the United Kingdom the national standards body is the British Standards Institution (BSI). As well as producing technical standards, it also supplies certification and standards-related services to businesses. The BSI produces British standards, but it is also responsible for the UK publication of international and European standards in English, for example, an ISO standard that has been adopted by CEN and hence BSI - more about this later.
Originally founded as the “Engineering Standards Committee” in 1901, the BSI was the world’s first national standards body. In 1918, it became the British Engineering Standards Association and then adopted the name British Standards Institution in 1931 after receiving a Royal Charter in 1929. A revision of the Charter in 1998 enabled the organisation to acquire other businesses and diversify, and so the trading name was changed to BSI Group.
BSI's best known product in the UK is the Kitemark, a quality mark first used in 1903. This is a product and service quality trade mark and is mostly used to identify products where safety is paramount, like protective shoes and smoke alarms etc. It can also be applied to a range of services, such as for example, gas installation or BIM.
 European Committees for Standardisation
There are three bodies that are officially recognised by the European Union and by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as being responsible for developing and defining voluntary standards at the European level; these are CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.
CEN stands for the European Committee for Standardisation and was founded in 1961. Its’ members work together to develop European Standards (EN’s). Why not ECS you may ask? CEN is derived from the French pronunciation, “Comité Européen de Normalisation”. It is an association that brings together the National Standardisation Bodies of 34 European countries, the BSI being one of them. Its mission is to foster the economy of the European Union but it is important to note that members are not limited to just those of the European Union. Members also include EFTA members (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) as well as other states (North Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia) and there are also additional affiliates and partner standardisation bodies, all of which can be found on the CEN website (www.cen.eu).
Founded in 1973, CENELEC stands for the “European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation”. Like CEN it is derived from the French title, “Comité Européen de Normalisation Électrotechnique”. CENELEC specialises in the area of electrical engineering. Similar to CEN, CENELEC works closely with the European Union, although it is not an EU institution. Members are made up of the national electrotechnical standardisation bodies of most European (geographical) countries including the BSI and there are also affiliate members and cooperation agreements.
Finally, ETSI stands for the “European Telecommunications Standards Institute” it specialises in standards for ICT-enabled systems, applications and services (Information and Communications Technology). The BSI is a member but members also include manufacturers, network operators, administrations, service providers and research bodies. Users are also from inside and outside of Europe and nearly a third of ETSI's members are Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Each body has its own technical specialisation and there are no immediate plans to merge the three. The European Parliament noted in a resolution in February 1999 that CEN, CENELEC and ETSI co-operate smoothly and that a merger of the three standardisation bodies would not have clear advantages.
The ISO began in the 1920s when it was known as the International Federation of the National Standardising Associations (ISA), however it was suspended during World War II. After the war the United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee (UNSCC) approached the ISA with a proposal to form a new global standards body. In October 1946, the ISA and UNSCC delegates met in London at the Institute of Civil Engineers and agreed to join forces to create the new “International Organization for Standardization” which began in 1947. Interestingly, the ISO is not an acronym In French it is “Organisation Internationale de Normalisation”, the name was adopted in reference to the Greek word isos (ίσος), which means "equal". The BSI is a full member of ISO.
The IEC held its first meeting in June 1906, following discussions among the British Institution of Electrical Engineers, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and others. Lord Kelvin was elected as the first President of the International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC stands for the “International Electrotechnical Commission” (in English) and is an international standards organisation that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These combined technologies are also known as “Electrotechnologies” and they are all covered by IEC standards. The BSI is a full member of the IEC.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was originally the International Telegraph Union and is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. It is the oldest global international organisation founded in 1865 and membership includes almost 200 member states as well as some 900 companies, universities and international and regional organisations. The UK’s date of entry is listed as 1871.
If the organisations above did not talk to each other, there would be lots of overlap and duplication of work. Therefore, there are agreements in place and it is in the best interest of national bodies, such as the BSI, to be members of the organisations at a European and International level.
 CEN and ISO
In 1991, the Vienna Agreement was signed by CEN and ISO and came in force in the mid-2000s. The primary aim of this agreement is to avoid duplication of standards which could potentially be conflicting between CEN and ISO. Since then, CEN has adopted a number of ISO standards replacing the corresponding CEN standards. This in turn would mean that the British standard would be replaced, for example, BS EN ISO 13849-1. This is because the BSI is obliged to adopt and publish all European Standards as identical British Standards and to withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict. The designations are explained below:
|British Standard Designation|
|European Standard (must be adopted by Britain)||BS EN|
|International Standard adopted by Europe and hence Britain||BS EN ISO|
|International Standards adopted by Britain but not Europe||BS ISO|
 CENELEC and IEC
In 1996 the Dresden Agreement was signed such that CENELEC coordinates their standard development activities with IEC (like CEN with ISO). The names of older IEC standards were converted in 1997 by adding 60000 (for example IEC 204 became IEC 60204) and adoption by CENELEC as a European standard means that they are also published in the EN 60000 range. As of 2017, more than 90% of the standards passed by CENELEC used the Dresden Agreement process (which was updated in October 2017 with the Frankfurt Agreement) and now IEC standards adopted by CENELEC will be referenced as "EN IEC 6xxxx". Therefore, a British standard would be in the format “BS EN IEC 6xxxx”. The designation is similar to that of the agreement between CEN and ISO, Figure 3.
|British Standard Designation|
|European Standard (must be adopted by Britain)||BS EN|
|International Standard adopted by Europe and hence Britain||BS EN IEC|
|International Standards adopted by Britain but not Europe||BS IEC|
 ETSI and ITU
ETSI has collaborated with the ITU on standardisation projects almost since ETSI's foundation. A new agreement was signed in Geneva on the 3rd July 2012 which provides a common framework for future cooperation between the two organisations. Designed to improve the dialogue and exchange of information between the two organisations, it also provides a mechanism for the exchange of draft documents and referencing of each other's specifications.
 CEN, CENELEC and ETSI
The European organisation CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are continually signing agreements about how they collaborate. The CEN/CENELEC collaboration was consolidated at the start of 2010 by the creation of a common CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC) in Brussels. The CCMC is in charge of the daily operations, coordination and promotion of all CEN and CENELEC activities. It is also responsible for handling the tasks assigned to it by both CEN and CENELEC General Assemblies, the Administrative Boards and the Technical Boards.
 ISO, IEC and ITU
The technical committees and subcommittees of ISO, IEC and ITU also liaise and each of them have their own agreements. For example, the channel of correspondence for the establishment of communication between ISO and IEC is through the offices of the chief executive officers (CEOs). Therefore, with respect to the study of new subjects, the CEOs seek agreement between the two organisations when work is contemplated which may be of interest to the other. This is so that there is no overlap or duplication of effort. Annex B of ISO/IEC Directives Part 1 contains details on the ISO/IEC procedures for liaison and work allocation and any decisions are by either the technical management boards or, if necessary, the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Advisory Board (JTAB).
 Other Collaborations
There are no liaisons between CENELEC and ISO/ITU or between CEN and IEC/ITU or between ETSI and ISO/IEC. However, the UK national body (BSI) being a member of each of them also interacts with them all.
 BSI participation in International and European standardisation
As a member of each standardisation organisation, committees in the BSI are responsible for appointing delegates to international and European technical committees and also for finding suitable experts to participate in the working groups. You would normally expect between 1 and 4 people maximum from BSI to be attending any International or European committee meeting and any delegates participating in any work at these levels do so to represent the consensus and not themselves or any interest group. The aim of a BSI committee is to reach a consensus with respect to European or International standards and the delegates are to reflect this. If consensus cannot be achieved regarding a BSI vote, then a BSI abstention will be formally recorded. The BSI currently has just over 7% of votes at the main stages of the development process of each CEN and CENELEC standard and it is imperative that the BSI continue to be involved in all of these working groups. Currently, the British standards catalogue is made up of the following:
- British standards 16%
- International standards 27%
- Identical European and international standards 25%
- European standards 32%
Prior to Brexit the BSI was obliged to adopt and publish all European Standards as identical British Standards (e.g. BS EN) and to withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict due to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI rules. This single standard model supports the European Single Market because it means that there is only one standard in use across all the countries of the single market on any given issue. The BSI also have the option to adopt and publish international standards that have not been adopted by CEN/CENELEC. This is favoured by industry because it reduces the number of standards that have to be considered when trading across borders. Plus standards cost money both to purchase and also comply with.
The UK left the EU on the 31st January 2020 and a transition period ran from this date until the end of the year to negotiate a trade agreement. As far as continued membership of the European Standards Organizations CEN and CENELEC was concerned, the official statement from BSI stated that it would continue to be a member of both organisations. This meant also meant the obligation to adopt EN standards and withdraw national standards that are contradictory to the EN standards.
A transition period to ensure that the membership statutes reflect the UK’s status outside of the EU which will began on the date of Brexit. This transition period for the CEN and CENELEC statutes was scheduled to the end of 2020 and not tied to the transition period negotiated between the EU and UK. CEN, CENELEC and BSI prefer to work at an international (ISO and IEC) than European level and then adopt the standards as EN’s. BSI’s membership of ETSI, ISO, IEC and ITU is unaffected by Brexit meaning likely minimal changes.
In November 2021 CEN and CENELEC General Assemblies, met in Palermo, Italy, and overwhelmingly confirmed the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) continued membership of the two associations from 1 January 2022. The decision included careful consideration by the CEN and CENELEC members, taking into account the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU and is consistent with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) agreed between the UK and the EU.
BSI stated at the time that membership provides clarity and confidence for CEN and CENELEC’s stakeholders in the role of standards across Europe. It will helps businesses to trade in a settled system and will support the UK’s long-term contribution to European and international standards. All CEN and CENELEC’s stakeholders, including those from the UK, will continue to participate and contribute to standards development as today.
 About the Author
This article is based on an article written and published by Martin Kidman, UK Product Manager - Safety Solutions, prior to Brexit in 2020, reproduced here by permission with some post Brexit updates added.
It a aims to give a brief overview of each organisation and explain in simple terms how they work with each other internationally and where the BSI (the British Standards Institution) fits. For a comprehensive and complete explanation of this, the standard BS 0:2016 exists which can be downloaded from the BSI website (www.bsigroup.com). It is a “standard for standards” and contains the principles for standardisation at BSI.
If you think that you have the relevant knowledge and experience, or would like to represent a relevant group of stakeholders and become part of a Technical Committee, the BSI welcomes applications from all walks of life and are always actively seeking to increase diversity. The goal is to have a balance of views which represent the UK around the table. Even if you don’t want to be on a committee you can visit the standards development portal to suggest an idea for a new standard, view and comment on proposals for new standards and view and comment on publicly available Drafts for Public Comment (DPCs). For further information visit the BSi group
 List of standards in each category, relating to Sustainable Construction
- BS ISO 21931-1:2022 - Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works. Framework for methods of assessment of the environmental, social and economic performance of construction works as a basis for sustainability assessment - Buildings
- BS EN ISO 22057:2022 - Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works. Data templates for the use of environmental product declarations (EPDs) for construction products in building information modelling (BIM)
- BS EN 15942:2021 - Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product declarations. Communication format business-to-business
- BS EN 17472:2022 - Sustainability of construction works. Sustainability assessment of civil engineering works. Calculation methods
- PAS 2035/2030:2019+A1:2022 - Retrofitting dwellings for improved energy efficiency. Specification and guidance
- BS 40101:2022 - Building performance evaluation of occupied and operational buildings (using data gathered from tests, measurements, observation and user experience). Specification
- PD ISO/TS 23764:2021 - Methodology for achieving non-residential zero-energy buildings (ZEBs)
- BS EN ISO 50001:2018 - TC - Energy management systems. Requirements with guidance for use
- BS EN ISO 14001:2015 - TC - Environmental management systems. Requirements with guidance for use
- BS EN 15978:2011 - Sustainability of construction works. Assessment of environmental performance of buildings. Calculation method
- BS EN 16627:2015 - Sustainability of construction works. Assessment of economic performance of buildings. Calculation methods
- BS EN 17472:2022 - Sustainability of construction works. Sustainability assessment of civil engineering works. Calculation methods
- BS 5906:2005 - Waste management in buildings. Code of practice.
- BS EN ISO 26000:2020 - Guidance on social responsibility.
 European Committee for Standardisation
- CEN/TC 350 - SUSTAINABILITY OF CONSTRUCTION WORKS
- CEN EN 15643:2021 Sustainability of construction works - Framework for assessment of buildings and civil engineering works
- CEN/TC 350/SC 1 - Circular Economy in the Construction Sector
- CEN/TC 350/WG 1 - Environmental performance of buildings
- CEN/TC 350/WG 2 - Building Life Cycle Description
- CEN/TC 350/WG 3 - Products Level
- CEN/TC 350/WG 4 - Economic performance assessment of buildings
- CEN/TC 350/WG 5 - Social performance assessment of building
- CEN/TC 350/WG 6 - Civil Engineering works
- CEN/TC 350/WG 7 - Framework and Coordination
- CEN/TC 350/WG 8 - Sustainable refurbishment
- CEN EN 15804:2012+A2:2019(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the product category of construction products
- CEN/TR 17005:2016(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Additional environmental impact categories and indicators - Background informationand possibilities - Evaluation of the possibility of adding environmental impact categories and related indicators and calculation methods for the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings
- CEN CEN/TR 16970:2016(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Guidance for the implementation of EN 15804
- CEN EN 16627:2015(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of economic performance of buildings - Calculation methods
- CEN EN 16309:2014+A1:2014(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of social performance of buildings - Calculation methodology
- CEN EN 15978:2011(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method
- CEN CEN/TR 15941:2010(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Methodology for selection and use of generic data
- CEN EN ISO 22057:2022(MAIN) - Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works - Data templates for the use of environmental product declarations (EPDs) for construction products in building information modelling (BIM) (ISO 22057:2022)
- CEN EN 17472:2022(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Sustainability assessment of civil engineering works - Calculation methods
- CEN EN 15643:2021(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Framework for assessment of buildings and civil engineering works
- CEN EN 15942:2021(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Communication format business-to-business
- CEN EN 15804:2012+A2:2019/AC:2021(CORRIGENDUM) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the product category of construction products
- CEN EN 15804:2012+A1:2013/FprA2(AMENDMENT) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the product category of construction products
- CEN EN 15804:2012/FprA1(AMENDMENT) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the productcategory of construction products
- CEN prEN 17680(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Evaluation of the potential for sustainable refurbishment of buildings
- CEN prEN 15941(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Data quality for environmental assessment of products and construction work - Selection and use of data
- CEN EN 17672:2022(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Horizontal rules for business-to-consumercommunication
- CEN prEN 15804(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Product category rules
- CEN prEN 15978-1(MAIN) - Sustainability of construction works - Methodology for the assessment of performance of buildings - Part 1: Environmental Performance
- ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use.
- ISO 14004:2016 Environmental management systems - General guidelines on implementation.
- ISO 14005:2019 Environmental management systems - Guidelines for a flexible approach to phased implementation.
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