" Priority on innovation and adapting the means to assess it. "

Charles Baloche, Deputy CEO in charge of Technological Activities

1. What trends emerged in the technological activities of the CSTB in 2016?

Although assessments are meant to inform construction industry stakeholders about the fitness for use of innovative products and systems, they also drive development on the market. With a growing number of regulatory requirements applying a performance-based approach, instead of a specification-based approach, the CSTB is adapting its services.

The objective is to prove that an innovative system performs according to the requirements of the regulations, but using alternative means to achieve the prescribed level of performance. This leaves room for architectural creativity, without compromising the standard of quality.

The CSTB anticipated this growing trend in the construction market by creating a new service in 2016: ATex & Simplified Regulations.

    Fostering innovation also requires step-by-step guidance of project developers. In 2016, the CSTB expanded the possibilities open to innovators, with:
  • support for those seeking information, through the Ariane service, which received 750 requests in 2016, compared with a total of 800 for 2014 and 2015.
  • the implementation of scalable testing programs to characterize the performance of materials and products, thanks to a multidisciplinary range of test engineering options.
  • he assessment of innovative products and systems through Technical Experimentation Assessments (ATEx), ATEx & Simplified Regulations and Technical Approvals.
  • recognition for the quality and performance of products, thanks to the QB certification, associated with classifications of use, which represent a differentiating factor on the market.

2. What about Technical Approvals?

The ATec procedure continues to be modernized. A revamp was initiated in 2012 by the Commission responsible for issuing Technical Approvals (CCFAT), with the support of the CSTB acting as the technical secretary.

The scope of the ATec has also changed, to focus on the most innovative products and systems. Better information updating and sharing are boosting fair market access for innovative products.

Based on an annual review of precedents set by Technical Approvals, the Specialized Groups identify the necessary revisions in pending Technical Approvals. This prevents differences of assessment over time. In 2017, the body of Technical Approval precedents will be made accessible to applicants and ATec holders, through a new online database.

Maintaining transparency and quality in the technical assessment process is a major requirement in the modernization of the Technical Approval, with the aim of favoring innovation in the long term.