Anyone involved in the built environment knows the process for navigating legal regulations can get complicated and, at times, downright ¬confusing. Why is product certification important? Are there different types of certification? How will product certification help my business? These are but a few of the questions we will answer as we highlight the purpose and importance of product certification with regards to building code compliance.

In the United States, most jurisdictions have adopted building codes based on the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) to standardize building practices and promote building quality and safety for the public. Every building component used and/or specified for a structure must be shown to meet or exceed the codes set forth in the respective jurisdiction.

Building product manufacturers benefit from obtaining a product certification. Without a certification, manufacturers run risks related to market acceptance of their product, delays on job completion, and rejection by building officials. Many states that have programs for modular building construction will require all components to carry a certification report. Further, code officials in each jurisdiction have the final decision for approving a building, and they can choose to halt construction until all products in the building have provided evidence of building code compliance. Some officials may even require a certification report before they will approve the building.

For established building products, there are building codes that outline precise standards for quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability, and safety. Technological advancements coupled with energy-efficient strategies have opened the door to new and innovative construction products that can make buildings safer, stronger, and more efficient. Innovative products and systems are a welcome addition to the building industry, provided they also demonstrate compliance with the building code.

Manufacturers making products with established criteria may test to a standard and receive a listing report or they may test against a set of a criteria (usually using many standards as the evidence of conformance) and receive an evaluation Report. For new and innovative building products, acceptance criteria may not exist and therefore the process is oftentimes more complex and time-consuming. New and innovative products will most commonly seek to receive an evaluation report, whereby the product is evaluated for compliance to a building code or criteria which include several standards as the evidence of conformance.

It may be helpful to outline the types of certification. Building product manufacturers who are interested in code compliance should be cognizant of the different types of certifications:

  • 1. Listing Reports: Listing Reports are a type of certification, most commonly a single product, listed to a specific standard. A building product manufacturer is required to show conformance to a single standard. Additionally, the manufacturing facility and quality system need to be inspected using an in-plant quality assurance program and a reputable third-party inspection agency to ensure that the production continuously meets or exceeds the requirements of the standards.
    • a. Design Listings: For assemblies, containing multiple products, Design listings are a common byproduct of a Listing Report. Typical design listings include wall assemblies, floor-ceiling assemblies, or any design requiring multiple products that are tested and evaluated as a system to meet the specified standard.
  • 2. Evaluations Report: Evaluation Reports are also a type of certification. An evaluation report normally provides compliance of a product or assembly of products to a building code or criteria consisting of several standards as the evidence of conformance. The requirements for qualifying a manufacturing facility and quality system are the same as Listing Reports with a possibility of additional requirements specific to the building code or criteria. An evaluation report is proof that the products were thoroughly evaluated using multiple sources of testing data as evidence.

No matter the type of conformity, the results are crucial to manufacturing and marketing success. Verification, by way of Listing Reports, Design Listings, or Evaluation Reports – certified by a third-party agency – will facilitate smoother local approvals as well as easier product acceptance. It is important to choose an impartial, third-party testing lab, inspection body, certification body, or evaluation agency that is certified ISO/IEC 17025, 17020, or 17065 and has the competence to perform the appropriate procedures based on your individual situation. Although third-party agencies are impartial, choosing one that is knowledgeable in your individual product category can facilitate getting your products to market faster. A reputable third-party agency should be willing to guide you through the appropriate solution for your needs.

If you have any additional questions, please contact ICC-NTA at (574) 773-7975.

Or visit our Building Products webpage for more information.