The mission of the Scientific and Technical Center for Building (CSTB) is to ensure the quality and safety of buildings. It brings together multidisciplinary skills to develop and share essential scientific and technical knowledge covering construction products and buildings, and their integration into neighborhoods and cities. It guides skateholders in the cycle of innovation from idea to market and supports the transformation of the construction sector in the context of the digital, environmental and energy transitions. The CSTB focuses on five key activities: research and expertise, evaluation, certification, testing and the dissemination of knowledge.
Research and expertise: developing and exploiting knowledge
The CSTB takes a systemic approach to the socio-economic challenges of safety, health and comfort, the environment and energy as they apply to buildings, neighborhoods and cities, by concentrating its research efforts on priority areas. It also guides stakeholders in their digital transformation, to optimize their activities and products by implementing BIM and new technologies.
It mobilizes its expertise to support public policy decision-makers, the builders and users of buildings and the urban environment.
In 2018, the CSTB began a new research cycle. The R&D program for 2025, anticipating future disruptions, aims to guide the construction sector through the major transformations it must confront, in particular the challenges arising from the energy and digital transitions. The CSTB also conducts research in key areas of concern, such as the adaptation of the built environment to an aging population, sustainable water management, the circular economy, the durability of materials and technological solutions for construction and renovation and the industrialization of construction.
Research at the CSTB is organized within the framework of programs guided by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, as well as through partnerships funded by the European Union and national programs.
The CSTB's research partnerships create opportunities to develop and support innovation and improve usability. These partnerships enable full-scale experimentation and deployment of innovative projects thanks to knowledge gained through research and the experiences of public and private stakeholders. The CSTB's contract research and expertise focuses on projects in the areas of Digital Technologies, Energy & Environment, Indoor Air Quality, and Risk Mitigation, in particular Fire safety.
Finally, the CSTB guides industrial companies in the design phase of new solutions, in order to help them optimize the performance and launch of their products on the national and international markets.
Assessment: supporting innovation
The assessment services provided by the CSTB offer construction professionals reliable information about the performance and durability of innovative components (systems, materials, elements, equipment, etc.) for pre-defined usages and installation conditions. The aim is to support the emergence and marketing of innovations, while ensuring their safety.
On behalf of the public authorities, the CSTB examines applications for Technical Appraisals (ATec). This procedure is defined by the State and governed by the CCFAT (Commission Responsible for Issuing Technical Appraisals). In 2017, the CCFAT updated the ATec procedure to focus on the most innovative techniques.
In addition, the CSTB offers technical assessment services to companies seeking to develop marketable innovations. With the Technical Experimentation Assessment (ATEx), the CSTB enables companies to confidently experiment with their innovation in its first full-scale usage, and to gain deeper knowledge of the system at work.
To support the manufacturers of products or systems whose techniques are deemed sufficiently mature but for which no reference documents yet exist, the CSTB offers the Transitional Technical Appraisal (ATT).
At the European scale, the CSTB is a Technical Assessment Body entitled to issue European Technical Assessments (ETA) and is a notified assessment body for CE marking.
The CSTB is also an Accredited Verification Body under the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program. This third-party assessment is international in scope and provides objective, reliable evidence on the environmental performance of green technologies released to the market. The CSTB issues ETV assessments in the areas of air, water and energy monitoring and treatment. It has the required COFRAC accreditation for the verification/inspection of water and energy solutions (no. 3-1565, available at www.cofrac.fr).
Certification: promoting the quality of products and services on the market
Certification attests to the performance of a product, according to a reference system established with representatives from the industry and society. This voluntary process ensures consistent quality of certified products, particularly through the monitoring of manufacturing processes.
For industrial companies, certification is also a visible means of differentiating their products on the market, and is a driver of economic development. For specifiers and users, this sign of quality builds trust in a product’s advantages, in response to targeted requirements.
An accredited certification organization, the CSTB is a key player in the certification of construction products and services, under various marks. It is accredited by AFNOR to issue the NF mark in 28 application areas. With the National Metrology and Test Laboratory (LNE), it also manages the ACERMI certification mark for insulation products. Finally, it has its own certification mark: QB, which has 26 application areas.
In addition to these certifications, the CSTB also offers classifications to help products highlight their performance and facilitate the choice and specification of the certified product, according to its use in a building (type of building, conditions of use, etc.). In 2017, the CSTB developed 10 classifications; it is pursuing this development so that most product families will have a dedicated classification. This decision-making tool boosts quality on the market, at a time when certification has become a crucial criterion to establish confidence.
Finally, together with its partners and subsidiaries, the CSTB is a major certifier of buildings, neighborhoods and skills in France and internationally.
Tests: optimizing a product, system or project
Thanks to its test facilities and expertise in the engineering of tests, the CSTB is able to conduct its research, assessment and certification activities at the highest level. Test engineering – a multiphysical approach to buildings and customized protocols – directly measures the performance characteristics of an innovation for which a testing framework has yet to be standardized. When appropriate, the CSTB can also use a combined approach with digital simulation to push the analysis further.
The CSTB can also conduct full-scale tests to explore the integration of products in buildings as closely as possible to actual conditions. It checks the effectiveness of innovations, factoring in how they will be used, their industrial characteristics and the degree of complexity of the physical phenomena involved.
The CSTB has more than 1,200 test benches as well as major test facilities used by the different scientific and technical disciplines. These facilities have a broad range of capabilities for testing materials, products and structural components, for traditional and innovative processes.
The testing activities are accredited by the French national accreditation body (COFRAC). The accreditation numbers are: 1-0300, 1-0301, 1-0302, 1-0304, 1-0305, 1-0306, 1-2122 and 1-1542 for tests (websites list and scopes of accreditation are available at www.cofrac.fr).
Dissemination: sharing knowledge with stakeholders
The CSTB shares knowledge with professionals to help them meet the many different challenges related to building performance, the changing regulatory environment and progress in innovations.
The CSTB makes scientific and technical-regulatory information accessible and immediately usable in the form of publications and information services, business software packages and a catalog of professional training courses for in-company groups or for individuals.
The CSTB is also certified “e-AFAQ Formation Professionnelle”, which means that the in-service training of the CSTB meets the criteria of governmental decree n°2015-790 of June 30, 2015 on the quality of professional training services.