For more than 350 years, Saint-Gobain has been innovating and enhancing people's well-being through building products. Originally founded to manufacture aesthetically pleasing mirror glass for Louis XIV at the Palace of Versailles, the company finds itself addressing very different challenges in 2019: mitigating climate change, delivering sustainable development and advancing the information revolution, to name just a few.
What sustainability means today
“Sustainability” is a word you hear a great deal in our society today. Although there are few items in the technical world that are truly sustainable in all aspects (environmental, social and financial), leading organizations are learning from nature and using technology and data to help create a more sustainable future.
As our species approaches a population of 9.5 billion, humans must be more cognizant of how much we consume and choose to live differently. For this reason, building product companies must play their part in contributing to a more sustainable world.
Responsibility in product development
One of the ways Saint-Gobain supports this goal is through product development, emphasizing sustainability in all aspects of the process and applauding industry partners who are committed to this cause as well.
For example, Saint-Gobain takes part in USGBC's LEED Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG). USGBC implemented the MR credits in LEED v4 to focus on product optimization. Through involvement with the MR TAG, Saint-Gobain is helping to make these credits even more meaningful in LEED v4.1.
As an organization, Saint-Gobain views these credits as critical to ensuring that product transparency is used to create meaningful change. Product environmental and health transparency documents (EPDs, HPDs, Declare, etc.) provide ways for organizations to learn about product impact, the processes used to create them and their associated supply chains. This, in turn, helps inform the decision-making process so that companies can select products that are better for building occupants, as well as for the built environment.
Using materials and products to promote health
Another priority for Saint-Gobain is actively using environmental and health data to effect change. The company has developed a product stewardship process to ensure that critical sustainability and health information is incorporated into product and process development. Saint-Gobain has named this process "SCORE" (Sustainable Solutions Score) and is using the tool to set meaningful metrics for the positive environmental and health changes of our products, processes and supply chains.
In a systematic way, Saint-Gobain is also demonstrating the power of its products at its own North American headquarters. On Saint-Gobain’s 350th anniversary, it officially opened the Malvern headquarters, which features more than 60 of the company's building materials. The headquarters serves as a “living laboratory” where building scientists can measure product impact on employee health and well-being.
Through a recent occupant comfort study, Saint-Gobain determined that a systems-based design approach, using multiple solutions and strategies, can have a greater impact on a building’s ability to increase occupant comfort while also improving the building’s overarching sustainability goals. This aligns with the findings of several other studies on people's self-reported health and well-being while working in green buildings, such as the 2018 LEED occupant survey.
Saint-Gobain’s ability to evolve and adapt to changing preferences and environmental conditions positions the company well to bring its history of innovation into the future—improving occupant comfort while creating a more sustainable future for generations to come.