The CQS is structured in a hierarchic and modular manner, consisting of four dimensions or modules. Three of these dimensions are vertical and align with the principles of sustainable development as outlined in the United Nations' Agenda 2030. They are:
- Environment: This dimension focuses on protecting the planet from degradation through sustainable consumption and production practices, managing natural resources sustainably, and taking urgent action on climate change. It emphasizes the need for buildings to meet the needs of present and future generations.
- Society: The society dimension of the CQS aims to provide a healthy environment for all human beings. It emphasizes the importance of buildings in supporting the well-being and quality of life for individuals and communities.
- Economy: This dimension ensures that all individuals can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives, while economic, social, and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. It highlights the role of buildings in achieving sustainable economic development.
- Process: This horizontal dimension focuses on the competences required to design, construct, and operate sustainable buildings effectively. It addresses the knowledge and skills necessary to maximize building performance in relation to the three dimensions of sustainable development.
Each dimension is further divided into four hierarchic levels:
- Level 1 - Thematic Fields: Thematic fields represent the overarching themes within each dimension. They provide a broad categorization of the subject matter related to sustainability in the construction sector.
- Level 2 - Macro Areas of Expertise: Macro areas of expertise further refine the thematic fields and represent specific areas of knowledge and skills within each dimension. They delve deeper into the subject matter, providing more focused areas of competence.
- Level 3 - Areas of Expertise: Areas of expertise form the core building blocks of the CQS. They represent specific topics or subdomains within the macro areas of expertise. Each area of expertise encompasses a set of knowledge, skills, and competences relevant to sustainable building.
- Level 4 - Learning Outcomes: Learning outcomes represent the specific measurable achievements or abilities that professionals should attain within each area of expertise. They serve as indicators of the individual's competence level and provide a basis for assessing and reporting the skills acquired through training courses and practical experience.
The CQS framework provides a standardized and comparable way of evaluating, scoring, and reporting the competence levels of professionals in sustainable building. It aligns with relevant European standards and frameworks of sustainability indicators, such as Level(s) for core sustainability indicators in office and residential buildings, and EN 16309, EN 15978, and EN 16627 for assessing the social, environmental, and economic performance of construction works.
By promoting transparency, comparability, and harmonization of qualifications and competences, the CQS aims to stimulate the demand for competent construction sector professionals and enhance their market penetration. It provides a valuable tool for public administrations, private clients, and employers to request and identify qualified professionals, while also valuing the competences acquired through training courses and practical experience.