Research partnerships

The CSTB guides socioeconomic stakeholders in the development of innovations on the market, through research partnerships and consulting projects. Local governments and developers, building managers and operators, architects and consulting firms, craftsmen and industrial companies and construction and demolition contractors: the CSTB offers its multidisciplinary scientific and technical knowledge in support of their projects, to develop the buildings and cities of the future.

Expansion of partnerships, driving innovation

Dealing with the risks posed by global warming and environmental pollution, on a planetary scale. Taking account of peoples' expectations for wellbeing and accessibility, together with stakeholders' need for economic optimization. To meet these challenges tangibly, the CSTB creates partnerships with socioeconomic stakeholders.

In 2016, this open approach was reflected in new research agreements and consulting projects with construction and urban planning stakeholders. The number of projects covered by contractual research and expertise was up 10% from the previous year.

Oriented toward action and the market, this network-based collaborative approach favors the sharing of scientific knowledge and expands the scope of innovation. In practical terms, it is based on technology transfers, i.e. patent assignments and licensed concessions, studies, software development and the creation of customized training programs.

Stimulating and boosting innovation

To design the buildings and cities of the future, the CSTB provides stakeholders with hands-on knowledge and a solid scientific foundation for their projects. In 2016, the CSTB enhanced the synergy of its skills through customer-oriented multidisciplinary services. The application of these services to major structures is emblematic. For example, through collaboration with consulting firms, regarding projects such as cultural sites and shopping malls, the CSTB studies wind resistance and comfort, fire safety and the quality of ambient conditions. The CSTB's participation begins early on in projects, starting with the design phase and continuing all the way through to execution, in order to facilitate work under constrained conditions.

Furthermore, the CSTB contributes to the development of a BIM ecosystem. Among the interoperable tools it offers: the eveBIM viewer and specialized calculation software, such as eveBIM-Elodie which assesses a building's environmental performance based on data from the digital model. The CSTB is expanding the development and deployment of these comprehensive solutions, thanks to partnerships with developers. For example, it is beginning to bundle its Cometh engine into the thermal calculation software of Perrenoud, and into a BIM-compatible version of Cype.

By transferring technology across different scientific disciplines and between different industrial applications, the CSTB helps ensure that innovation flourishes. Multi-scale BIM is a prime example. Borrowed from the aeronautical and automotive worlds, this new practice is being applied to construction and urban planning. Thanks to its digital expertise, the CSTB is forming research partnerships with stakeholders to promote its deployment. It guides their BIM process by providing methods and tools, and performing the operational follow-up of BIM projects. It is also opening up to new technologies in other sectors - robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology - in order to broaden the scope of BIM in the long term.

In the field of aerodynamic engineering, the CSTB uses digital simulations and its three wind tunnels: the Jules Verne climatic wind tunnel and two atmospheric wind tunnels. It makes these major facilities available not only for the study of construction projects, but also for projects in aerospace and aeronautics.

More recently, the CSTB developed a new sensory measurement method for the quality of drinking water, to objectively and quickly qualify the taste and smell of drinking water. This innovation is based on a method initially applied to construction materials and products, to qualify their thermal comfort. It now applies to water management, and could in the future be extended to other products because perceived quality represents an increasingly important factor. Coming soon: the food industry, textiles, cosmetics, and more!

Characterizing innovation and making it reliable

By applying its scientific knowledge to different projects, the CSTB provides innovative methods and solutions to stakeholders in order to facilitate a performance-based approach to design and operations. The goal is to help them realize their projects in a reliable, lasting way. One strength of the CSTB is that it combines an experimental approach with a digital approach, from verification of concept and prediction of performance to laboratory testing and on-site experimentation.

For example, in the area of stormwater management, a major challenge is rising urbanization. Although the technique of urban swales is well known, the challenge for the CSTB's research partnerships is to define their physical characteristics to develop a system of reference swales, whose behavior is characterized. Outlook: guiding companies in studying the performance of their systems while they are in use, and supporting the sustainable development of the sector.
> Matriochkas Project.

In the area of fire resistance of buildings, the CSTB is also developing innovative study protocols and calculation software. It has developed a hybrid approach combining full-scale testing with real-time digital modeling, thus enhancing the representativeness of the outcomes. This benefits stakeholders in the design of complex or original structures, while controlling the risks associated with fire.

The CSTB has also developed two complementary methods for measuring the real energy performance of a single building or building stock. Isabele measures the thermal insulation of a building's envelope during commissioning. The CSTB filed a patent in 2016 and is currently contributing, through the PACTE program, to the development of an operational protocol for private homes with the CEREMA (Center for the Study and Expertise of Risks, the Environment, Mobility and Development), the COSTIC (Scientific and Technical Committee of Climatic Industries) and the stakeholders of the construction industry. As for Repere, it measures the real energy performance gains obtained after buildings are renovated, upon completion of the work and then later on, while the renovated building is in use. This method is currently being implemented by the CSTB for social housing units rehabilitated by the 3F Group.