" The challenges of research for the construction industry in the digital age. "

Hervé Charrue, Deputy CEO in charge of Research & Development

1. What challenges are met by research at the CSTB?

Demography, aging, social inequality, climate change, management of natural resources, as well as quality and comfort of living conditions, health, the environment, and more. These are all societal challenges that call for specific responses from research regarding the integration of innovations, both in terms of the building and its place in the city.

The research conducted at the CSTB aims to identify the tangible contributions of innovation, in the broadest sense of the word, to the sectors of construction and urban planning, through a systemic approach exploring the fundamentals of sustainable development. By evaluating the impact of innovations in different areas, be it safety, health, or comfort, as well as energy consumption, environmental footprint, usages and economic impact, the CSTB meets the expectations of the various stakeholders regarding the guarantee of quality and safety of construction projects.

To achieve this goal, the CSTB uses a range of research tools and models, both experimental and digital, amplified by innovative approaches involving Big Data, to determine the physics of a project as well as its uses and economics. 

Driving the use of digital applications at the scale of buildings and cities, both in terms of description and simulation, the CSTB is preparing and guiding the sector through this deep-seated transformation. By helping stakeholders (both major corporations and small and midsize companies) map and simulate different types of buildings and uses, digital technologies are already enabling them to design, construct and manage buildings with a vision of performance emphasizing the quality and safety of the building.

The scientific challenges are numerous, in terms of compatibility of technical models and data with usage models and data, or integrating increasingly complex and numerous phenomena. And it is largely thanks to its wide range of scientific and technical partnerships that the CSTB is able to lead a community capable of meeting these challenges.

2. What are the levers for developing this comprehensive approach?

An in-depth understanding of the phenomena and their interactions is a key source of knowledge and innovation. Exchanges between the CSTB and public and private stakeholders also drives knowledge forward. In 2016, more than ever, the development of partnership-based projects at national and international levels leveraged our research.

Alongside VSEs and SMEs and major corporations, the CSTB is mobilizing its expertise for the benefit of the socioeconomic fabric, to transform ideas into innovative projects and to accelerate their use in buildings. The CSTB supports stakeholders to make their projects operational and marketable so that challenges surrounding the energy, environmental and digital transitions and the need for large-scale, cost-effective renovation can be met.

The CSTB's knowledge of construction, buildings and urban planning is enriched by experiments conducted with innovators and scientific partners. At the same time, this knowledge supports their projects with a clear focus on real, overall performance throughout the life cycle of the end product.