NF Habitat: a New Generation of Certifcations

Interview with Antoine DESBARRIÈRES, director of Qualitel association and president of Cerqual Qualitel Certification

Antoine DESBARRIÈRES - director of Qualitel association and president of Cerqual Qualitel Certification
Tell us a little about Cerqual, the certifcation body.
Cerqual is a subsidiary of Qualitel Association which promotes housing quality through certifcation and by providing information to the public. It focuses on apartment buildings and grouped individual dwellings under renovation, under construction or in use. Cerqual plays a role in the new NF Habitat certifcation, providing a mark that assures essential qualities. Combined with the HQE™ mark, which was developed by Alliance HQE-GBC, Cerqual offers higher levels of performance in terms of quality of life, environmental protection and economic performance. Today, Cerqual lists 150,000 housing units per year applying for certifcation.
What does product certifcation mean to Qualitel?
We approach the quality of buildings by considering their components, the stakeholders, design methods, installation and management. Product quality is vital.
Therefore, we recommend the use of certifed products. When we talk about energy efciency, acoustic comfort and other factors, we need proven data on insulation materials. It’s a measure of quality, a requirement that enables us to check the performance levels of buildings. This is especially trustworthy when a third party measures, checks and certifes structural characteristics, manufacturing processes, consistency at the industrial company, and traceability beyond the design phase, all of which are crucial factors.
Insulation is a component that greatly contributes to energy efciency. It represents a basic requirement in all our benchmarks for future positive energy buildings, whether new buildings or energy-efcient renovation.
Do you influence the choice of insulation products?
For energy efciency, we focus on overall performance or, for renovations, individual component performance. We do not impose construction methods or the types of insulation when they are backed by calculations of energy efciency in the design stage. Performance is the thing that interests us and, from that perspective, we do have influence on the choice of insulation.
Coeur Boisé Residence in Chaville
Coeur Boisé Residence in Chaville, NF Logement HQE™, BBC-efnergie®, for Bouygues Immobilier, Anthony Bechu, architect
What role do fnancial incentives play?
NF Habitat HQE™ certifcation is subject to requirements concerning aspects such as property tax exemption. Municipalities sometimes have energy efciency requirements which are more stringent than national regulations, such as the Climate Plan of the City of Paris. There is a link between obtaining certifcation of apartment buildings or private homes and the fnancial incentives or local requirements.
Regarding the certifcation of products, according to Energy Transition Tax Credit (CITE) provisions, there are also direct links between tax credits, taxation and the energy efciency of the certifed insulation installed. Public funding is involved, so it is justifable that allocations should only be awarded when there is frm evidence of the energy performance of the insulation installed.
Do you receive feedback from users?
We do get some feedback. By comparing the performance specifed in the design with the experience of residents, we note a good level of overall satisfaction. Claims made by residents regarding certifcation are never about insulation performance. Rather, they concern usage or the choice of inappropriate products or installation methods.
We haven’t received specifc feedback from the professionals with whom we work. This isn’t an issue because the certifed data is highly reliable.
A fnal word?
Cerqual needs ACERMI to continue its important work on energy performance. It would be worthwhile for it to certify other characteristics, such as product life cycles of low-carbon buildings, which is an increasingly important issue in regulations concerning construction products.

Download Issue 8 of the newsletter - September 2017