Emission Classification of Building Materials

The Finnish M1 Emission Classification of Building Materials has successfully helped to improve indoor air quality for almost 30 years. The M1 Emission Classification, introduced in 1996, was created to promote the development and use of low-emitting building materials, fixed furniture, and office furniture. Good indoor environment requires that indoor air issues are considered at all stages of design, construction, and operation. Part of this process is the use of low-emitting building materials and fixtures, which helps to achieve good indoor air quality.

What is M1 Emission Classification?

M1-classified product has been tested for low emissions, and the vast majority of building materials fall within the scope of the classification. An M1-classified product supports the objectives of the EU taxonomy.

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Classification process

The Emission Classification of Building Materials can only be granted by Rakennustieto. In addition to laboratory tests, an application for classification is always required.

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Apply for an Emission Classification

The application must include both the test report and the requested information about the product(s). Classification applications are submitted for processing through the portal

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Upcoming classification meetings

Upcoming meeting dates can be found on the front page of the application portal.

The processing of applications is temporarily backlogged due to the system change. We apologize for the inconvenience caused. If you have submitted an application in the application portal, you can follow its progress in the Applications section of the portal. Rakennustieto's customer service is open on weekdays 8.30 am to 4.00 pm, tel. +358 45 4900 747.

The application must be submitted no later than four (4) working days before the meeting, so that it can be added to the agenda of the meeting. If the application requires additional information, it will only be processed by the classification committee when all the necessary information has been submitted. All applications must be submitted for processing via the application portal, applications submitted by email or post cannot be processed. As a general rule, decisions and classification documents related to applications are delivered to the applicant within two (2) weeks of the meeting where the application was processed.

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The classification system is based on multidisciplinary expertise and impartiality

The Emission Classification of Building Materials is owned by Rakennustietosäätiö RTS sr and operated by Rakennustietosäätiö RTS’s subsidiary Rakennustieto Oy. The classification is overseen and developed by the principal committee Indoor Environment (PT 41) appointed by Rakennustietosäätiö RTS sr, in which representatives include construction products industry, developers, designers, and research institutes. Classification applications and matters related to classification decisions are handled confidentially by a separate impartial classification committee. The classification decisions are based on the document Classification of Indoor Environment 2018 (Sisäilmastoluokitus 2018), the general rules of the classification and the classification criteria. The Emission Classification of Building Materials has two levels: M1 and M2, M1 being the most stringent. M2 Classifications have hardly been granted, so the whole classification system is typically referred to as M1 Emission Classification.

M1-classified product is proven to be low-emitting

The M1 Classification focuses on emissions from building materials and furniture into the indoor air, setting limit values for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), formaldehyde, and ammonia as well as the acceptability of odour. The M1 criteria are set for the longer-term emissions that are more relevant to indoor air quality, not for the primary emissions which typically decrease rapidly. For this reason, in the emission tests required by the M1 Classification, measurements are carried out after an aging period of 28 days (excluding office chairs, the emissions of which are examined after 3 days). The M1 Classification label on the product indicates that the product is low-emitting, and its use supports good indoor air. The M1 Classification label is a type I ecolabel limited to the product's indoor air emissions in accordance with EN ISO 14024:2018.

The M1 Classification process does not include factory audits, but the company applying for the classification must have an acceptable quality assurance system in place.  Composition analyses tell nothing about the indoor air emissions of the product, so the M1 Classification does not test the composition of the products. M1-classified product is presumed to comply with the legal and binding requirements for that product type (e.g. CE marking and REACH), but these are not considered as part of the classification process. M1 does not consider emissions during the installation of products or take a position on issues related to occupational safety, but chemical building materials (e.g. paints, varnishes and screeds) shall have a safety data sheet.

Most types of building materials are in the scope of M1 Emission Classification

The M1 Classification is a voluntary emission classification that importers and manufacturers can apply for their products. The Emission Classification of Building Materials is mainly intended for building materials and furniture used in ordinary residential and work premises. The scope of the classification includes:

  • building materials (e.g. floorings, building boards, paints and varnishes, adhesives, plasters and screeds, and insulation)
  • prefabricated products (e.g. windows, doors, transfer walls and acoustic products)
  • fixed furniture (e.g. kitchen and bathroom cabinets, furniture doors and countertops)
  • furniture without upholstery (e.g. chests of drawers, shelves, cabinets and desks)
  • upholstered office and auditorium chairs (fabric or leatherette-covered)

The Emission Classification of Building Materials does not cover, for example: electrical appliances, interior textiles, plumbing products or sports equipment (e.g. basketball baskets). Ventilation products are covered by the Cleanliness Classification of Ventilation Products.

The Classification of Indoor Environment 2018 defines a set of inherently low-emitting materials that can be equated with M1-classified products when designing premises. These include uncoated brick, natural stone, glass and metal, ceramic tile, as well as boards and logs made of untreated aspen, birch, spruce, or pine. The VOC emissions of newly produced untreated board and log products may exceed the limit values for M1, but the emissions will reach lower level in the longer term. Inherently low-emitting products may not be marketed as M1-classified unless they have a valid M1 Classification granted by Rakennustieto.

M1 Classification needs to be applied for

The Emission Classification of Building Materials can only be granted by Rakennustieto. In addition to laboratory tests, an application for classification is always required. Further instructions on how to apply for M1 Classification can be found in the section Classification process.

M1-classified product supports the objectives of EU taxonomy

It is possible to combine the M1 Classification with a voluntary emission limit value examination, for the purpose of verifying compliance with the indoor air emission criteria of EU taxonomy or SINTEF approval. Depending on the intended use, the limit value examination can have two different scopes:

1.    emission of formaldehyde < 60 μg/m³ and emissions of carcinogenic compounds < 1 μg/m³ (scope required for taxonomy reporting)

2.    emission of formaldehyde < 60 μg/m³, emissions of carcinogenic compounds < 1 μg/m³, and total volatile organic compound (TVOC) < 300 μg/m³ (scope suitable for taxonomy and SINTEF)

In principle, all emission test reports for products with valid M1 Classification are usable for the limit value examination. The limit value examination can be ordered both as part of the normal classification process as well as during an ongoing classification period. The limit value examination is included in the M1 certificate, in which case the certificate:

  • verifies that the product is M1-classified, low-emitting, and supports good indoor air quality
  • provides the emission data needed for taxonomy reporting in a standardised, unambiguous and correct format
  • the reported emission data is verified by an impartial third party
  • eliminates the need to share privileged test reports with third parties

The M1 Classification is valid for three (3) years

The M1 Emission Classification and the validity of the right to use the classification label is three (3) years from the date of granting the classification. If the composition and manufacturing process of the product have remained unchanged during the first classification period, one 3-year continuation of the product's classification can be applied for without further testing. After the product has been classified for six (3+3) years, the product must be tested again. The validity of the continuation and renewal periods of the classification continues from where the previous classification period ends. I.e., the applicant does not lose out by applying for a continuation or renewal of the classification before the end of the classification period, nor wins anything by applying for an extension late. Continuation and renewal applications can be submitted six (6) months before the classification expires. The M1 Classification does not include annual fees or audits. The classification fee is the same regardless of the type of application (new, continuation or renewal application).

The right to use the classification label is company- and product-specific

The M1 label is a registered trademark of the Rakennustietosäätiö RTS sr., which may only be used in the marketing of a product if the product has a valid M1 Classification granted by Rakennustieto. The M1 Classification is granted for three (3) years at a time. During this period, the company has the right to mark the classified product with the classification label and use it in the marketing of the product. The M1 label can only be used by the company who has applied for the M1 Classification. A company can only use the M1 label for their M1-classified products, and the classification label cannot refer to the company as a whole. More detailed instructions on the use of the classification label are given in the general rules of the Emission Classification.

All M1-classified products are published in Rakennustieto’s M1 database, where products can be searched either by company or product name and according to the Talo 2000 classification. If a product cannot be found in the database, it is either not classified or the classification has expired. Each M1-classified product also has a classification certificate which may be distributed by the classification holder.

Quality assurance and obligations of the manufacturer 

The quality control and assurance of the classified product shall be the responsibility of the classification holder. The quality of classified products is monitored annually by Rakennustieto Oy through a spot check procedure. A product whose random check results do not meet the M1 criteria will be removed from the M1 database and the right to use the classification label is revoked. In case of misconduct or if it turns out that the requirements for granting the classification are no longer met, Rakennustieto Oy may revoke the M1 Classification.

The classification holder is obligated to notify Rakennustieto in advance any changes concerning the manufacturing methods, composition, or other properties of the product, if the changes may have an impact on the emissions of the product. Based on the notification, the classification committee assesses the need for retesting of the product or product group.

The manufacturer also has the responsibility to provide adequate instructions for the use and maintenance of the product:

  • how the product should be stored
  • suitable applications and compatible materials for the product
  • how the product should be serviced and maintained
  • suitable cleaning methods for the product

M1 is both a national and an international emission classification

In Finland, there is no legal obligation to test indoor air emissions from building materials or furniture, but the high emissions of building materials are known to have a negative impact on indoor air quality. Finland's solution to this challenge is based on a voluntary classification system. The M1 Classification has been developed considering the Finnish concept of good indoor air.  Good indoor air does not smell, so in the M1 Classification, in addition to low level of chemical emissions, the product is also required to have an acceptable odour. The M1 Classification is more comprehensive than other European emission classifications, which typically focus only on VOC and formaldehyde emissions. This has also been noticed in the Nordic and Baltic countries, where the M1 Classification is widely used to demonstrate the low emissions of a product. However, when comparing the criteria of different emission classifications, it should be noted that different measurement and calculation methods may be used in different classifications, in which case the numerical values are not comparable.

M1-classified products need to be used and maintained correctly

M1-classified product is low-emitting only when properly stored, installed, and used. Low-emitting material can become high-emitting, if for example, the product is stored in humid conditions, incompatible products are used, maintenance of the product is neglected, or wrong cleaning methods are used. For this reason, it is important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions when storing, installing, and using building materials. Products should only be used in their intended applications and conditions.

The M1 Emission Classification as part of the puzzle

The voluntary Emission Classification of Building Materials is part of the broader Classification of Indoor Environment (Sisäilmastoluokitus) developed by the Finnish Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (Sisäilmayhdistys ry) and Rakennustietosäätiö RTS. The Classification of Indoor Environment is used by architects, designers, contractors, and manufacturers when building healthier and more comfortable buildings.

A good indoor climate requires consideration of indoor air issues in all stages of planning, construction and use. When using low-emission building materials,it is possible to achieve good quality indoor air with more moderate ventilation than when using high-emission materials. But even though the use of low-emission building materials contributes to creating a pleasant indoor environment, mistakes made in the design and implementation of structures and ventilation cannot be corrected with good building materials.