Faced with major challenges such as increased urbanization, climate change, natural resource depletion and health and wellbeing in indoor environments, it is crucial to invent tomorrow’s living places. That is why, as a leader on the construction market, Saint-Gobain launched in 2015 its Sustainable Habitat Strategy structured along 2 strategic pillars and 5 working axes.
On the one hand, Saint-Gobain advocates for sustainable construction to become mainstream practice on the market and on the other hand, it develops and distributes innovative and more sustainable solutions to meet the demands of this growing market.
Leading by example
We believe that buildings have the potential not just to protect people from the aggressions of the outdoor environment – such as noise, weather and pollutants – but also to make us feel happier and enable us to live, work and play in healthier indoor environments. The MULTI COMFORT program aims to showcase Saint-Gobain know-how in both residential and non-residential buildings and renovation projects and our contribution to increase occupants’ comfort. We have created buildings that are not just good for the environment, but help people to feel good too. To learn more about MULTI COMFORT, click here
For its own building, Saint-Gobain has initiated in 2008 the CARE:4® program. Its goal is to inspire the market, reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings, improve comfort of the occupants and develop its customers approach. Already 2,200 tons of CO2 and 6,400 MWh are saved each year thanks to the 32 first operations of the CARE:4 program carried out between 2008 and 2016.
Setting the ambition level and engaging with trendsetters
Saint-Gobain is an active ambassador for sustainable construction, with membership of over 40 Green Building Councils worldwide. These national associations of building market professionals and stakeholders feature an effective forum to foster sustainable construction. Saint-Gobain is also a partner of the European regional network and a Corporate Advisory Board Member of the World Green Building Council.
Saint-Gobain is committed to providing customers with real added value by developing and distributing innovative solutions that reduce the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure across their full life cycle while enhancing the benefits for people living or working in those buildings.
Inventing the solutions of tomorrow
Product transparency with the LCA approach
The first step to ensure well developed and improved solutions is to rely on metrics. LCA’s are the main tools used by Saint-Gobain to evaluate the environmental footprint of our products. Rigorous and comprehensive, science-based, LCA’s are the most widely used and recognized methodology today in the sustainable construction market to assess the environmental impacts of products, systems or buildings, from the sourcing of the raw materials to their end of life.
In addition, to achieve this, the Group’s Activities may draw on the Eco-Innovation approach to develop more sustainable solutions with its associated toolbox.
There are two parts to this pragmatic yet structured methodology for innovation:
- Tools for understanding market needs and customer expectations in terms of social and environmental impacts;
- Tools for seeking solutions based on existing good practice or an in-depth analysis of the impacts of the existing solution.
These challenges are considered as a matter of course at every stage of the product life cycle, from extraction of the raw materials to end of life.
Many examples demonstrate the growing percentage of eco-innovative products and solutions in the Group’s innovation portfolio. Below some 2017 examples of eco-innovations:
- New Isover’s Glass wool 100% bio-sourced and its composition free of any formaldehyde or phenol
- Saint-Gobain Glass’s ECLAZ ® which combines the thermal insulation pf triple-glazing while ensuring the natural light intake of a double-glazing unit
- Webertherm XM Natura the first external thermal insulation system with bio sourced cork insulation
- Ecophon’s Hygiene Performance™ ceiling which allows economical maintenance and long-lasting use via an anti-stained which reduce the deposit of dirt and the use of detergents
The eco-innovation approach is supported by series of training courses and programs to cascade the process and the related principle throughout the Group. Eco-innovation is systemic and requires continuous dialogue among all the functions involved. Teams will need a common vocabulary and tools to define aims, as well as the necessary resources to achieve those objectives.
We developed in 2017 a methodology to assess the sustainability profile of our products. Aligned with the Group’s vision, this new methodology considers a product over its whole life cycle and defines its level of sustainability performance according to 2 dimensions:
- Its health and environmental impacts from cradle (raw materials extraction) to gate (end of the production stage);
- Its contribution at building level to make it more sustainable.
The methodology embarks a broad scope of topics identified as priorities for the stakeholders on the market: energy and climate, materials and circular economy, health and wellbeing, water and local value creation. It will help to assess our products’ performances regarding sustainability and to steer the eco-innovation approach.
The building industry consumes a huge amount of natural resources and generates quantities of waste. Saint-Gobain is responding to this situation by rolling out projects to recover construction or demolition waste, including by reducing waste at the source (notably through eco-innovation), sorting waste at worksites and recycling collected waste. We strive to reduce our production waste to a minimum and to include the highest possible rate of secondary raw materials into our materials.
Gypsum activities launched a Recycling Service which aims to collect gypsum boards in partnership with recycling actors as there 100% recyclable. This program has already been implemented in 9 countries and major achievements have been made; for instance, in 2016, it permitted to recycle 50 000 tons of gypsum which represents 60% of the total volume collected in France. Furthermore, glass activities have launched pilot projects in both France and the United Kingdom to take back old glass from old windows and remanufacturing it into new better performing windows. This kind of program aims to drive change of all actors towards a more circular-economy.