On June 21, the CSTB organized a day-long event to guide stakeholders in innovation. A round table discussion focused on innovation in connection with the regulatory flexibility recently proposed for the construction industry. In order to support stakeholders, the CSTB is expanding the scope of the Technical Experimentation Assessment (ATEx) to new solutions that have been developed, based on the regulatory flexibility that has made it possible to use means other than those described in the regulations.
As part of the reforms aiming to simplify French construction regulations, it is now possible to opt for alternatives to the mandatory means described in the regulations, provided that the same results are obtained. Some solutions are not covered in the regulations, because practices are evolving.
These innovative solutions, which represent departures from the usual means implemented, can encourage architectural and technical creativity, while perfectly meeting the end-goal of the regulations.
Many regulations are being simplified to let designers give free rein to innovation: recently, the possibility of offering “equivalent solutions” was introduced into regulations on accessibility. Likewise, alternative systems can be offered by designers in the field of natural ventilation in the French overseas territories. The bill on freedom of creation, architecture and heritage provides for the implementation of new exemptions from the rules of construction.
Most of these alternative solutions are subject to approval by State services, based on the submission of a well-argued request.
The scope of the Technical Experimentation Assessments (ATEx) “a” and “b” is expanded in response to regulatory flexibility
The CSTB is responding to the process of simplification that encourages the use of alternative solutions, by adapting the assessments it offers. The ATEx is now expanding to include new solutions implementing means other than those described in the regulations, provided that equivalent results are obtained.
The stakeholders of the construction industry can now propose new solutions, thanks to these regulatory simplifications. Once they have been approved by independent experts, industry players will be encouraged to use them in their construction projects. The Technical Experimentation Assessment (ATEx) provides a seal of confidence: the experts give their opinion regarding not only the criteria normally addressed by the ATEx (feasibility, safety and risk of disorder), but also the capability of achieving the results required by regulations.
> The question asked is: does the proposed solution achieve the same results as with the means described in the regulations?
The ATEx will be a helpful addition to the application filed with the State services, when such approval is required.
Sectors concerned: products, processes or operations designed with alternatives made possible by the simplified regulations. A few examples in 2016: fire, accessibility and aeration/ventilation systems.
2 types of ATEx: ATEx “a”, for products and processes, and ATEx “b”, for projects.
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Examples of regulatory flexibility
Possibility of proposing solutions that are different from the means described in the regulation, provided that the same results are obtained
For high-rise buildings and premises open to the public: the authorization under the fire regulation may impose mitigating or augmenting requirements, based on an application filed by the client (CCH, R122-11-1 for high-rise buildings; CCH, R123-13 and order of June 25, 1980, article GN4 for premises open to the public).
For housing units: possibility of using construction systems or devices not provided for by the administrative order, but that meet the requirements of the order. The application includes either a laboratory evaluation of a fire resistance or reaction test, or a fire safety engineering study for resistance to fire, reaction to fire or smoke removal (order of January 31,1986 amended on June 19, 2015, article 105).
Accessibility regulation (new housing units, existing premises open to the public):
Possibility of using equivalent solutions, provided that they meet the same objectives as the solutions described in the regulations (order of December 24, 2015, article 1 for new housing units; order of December 8, 2014, article 1 for existing premises open to the public).
Possibility of having a reduced flow rate for a mechanical device that automatically modulates the air renewal of a housing unit, such that the air pollution rates of the indoor air do not represent a health hazard and condensation can be avoided, except on a temporary basis (order of March 24, 1982, article 4).
RTAA (Thermal, Acoustic and Aeration Regulations in the French overseas territories):
Possibility of using means that are different from those described in the regulations concerning natural ventilation, provided that an equivalent result is achieved (order of April 17, 2009, amended on January 11, 2016, article 9-5°).
Possibility of using means that are different from those described in the regulations concerning protection from noise inside of buildings, provided that an equivalent result is achieved (order of April 17, 2009, amended on January 11, 2016, article 4, provision no. 4 in the table).
Round table on regulatory flexibility at the CSTB Paris office, on June 21, 2016. Left to right: Christophe Morel, Deputy Director for Technical Partnerships, CSTB; Jacques Gandemer, expert in bioclimatic design; Guillaume Rabut, Greenfloor Project Manager, Vinci Énergies; Olivier Gaujard, Wood Construction. Interprofession Legnu Vivu; Anne Voeltzel-Lévêque, Safety, Structures and Fire Performance Department Director, CSTB; Pauline Polgár, Editorial Director, Batiactu Groupe. Photo: Nicolas Richez
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