Founded in 1971, COST is an intergovernmental framework for European co­operation in the field of scientific and technical research, allowing the coordi­nation of nationally funded research on a European level. COST actions cover basic and precompetitive research as well as activities of public utility.

The goal of COST is to ensure that Europe holds a strong position in the field of scientific and technical research for peaceful purposes, by increasing European cooperation and interaction in this field. Ease of access for institu­tions from nonmember countries also makes COST a successful tool for tack­ling topics of a truly global nature.

To emphasize that the initiative came from the scientists and technical ex­perts themselves and from those with a direct interest in furthering interna­tional collaboration, the founding fathers of COST opted for a flexible and pragmatic approach. COST activities have in the past paved the way for com­munity activities, and its flexibility allows COST actions to be used as a test­ing and exploratory field for emerging topics.

The member countries participate on an “a la carte” principle, and activi­ties are launched using a “bottom-up” approach. One of its main features is its built-in flexibility. This concept clearly meets a growing demand, and in addition, it complements the community programs.

COST has a geographical scope beyond the EU, and most of the Central and Eastern European countries are members. COST also welcomes the par­ticipation of interested institutions from non-COST-member states without any geographical restriction.

COST has developed into one of the largest frameworks for research co­operation in Europe and is a valuable mechanism for coordinating national re­search activities in Europe. Today it has almost 200 actions and involves nearly 30,000 scientists from 32 European member countries and more than 50 participating institutions from 11 nonmember countries.

Among these is COST Action G3 on industrial ventilation. This action was launched in 1996 and comprises to date more than 60 experts from four­teen COST countries and from institutions of four nonmember countries. Its main objective, as stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding of the ac­tion, is to “produce a basis for a Design Guidebook by a multidisciplinary ap­proach based on gathering the expert knowledge which exists internationally, further developing it and making it available for the designers.”