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How are we approaching our industry’s key environmental challenges?

Since the first convention on the human environment in 1972, climate change has been rising up the agenda. In recent years this has become more stark and it has become increasingly clear that further action is needed.

The UK Green Building Council states that the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint[1]. Studies in Europe have shown that heating alone accounts for 75% of a buildings average energy consumption[2]. As a result of this the Royal Academy of Engineers called on the construction sector to move further and faster in a bid to curb emissions. In the Construction Leadership Council’s 9 point strategy, CO2nstructZero, it sets out how the industry can collectively meet Net Zero and measure progress, in response to the Government’s Green Industrial Revolution plan.

Faced with the challenges around climate change, Saint-Gobain has committed to developing sustainable solutions to help decarbonise buildings, reduce our own carbon impact and the carbon from across our value chain. We have developed and continue to develop market solutions that improve the energy efficiency in buildings, and reduce their carbon footprint – such as through light construction – designed to replace traditional, more carbon-intensive building materials. But how do are we addressing the key environmental challenges?

 

Decarbonisation

Decarbonisation refers to the reduction of CO2 emissions with the overall goal of eliminating them. We are working towards the decarbonisation of the construction industry through providing materials that can help to reduce the carbon intensity of buildings, improving our processes in order to create materials with less embodied carbon, using more sustainable materials and investing in carbon efficient transportation.  

We are finalising our CO2 roadmap which will set out the way in which we can transition to net zero, with the next step being Science based Targets for 2030. Our targets are a 33% reduction in scope 1 and 2 absolute emissions from the 2017 baseline and for the carbon in our supply chain to be reduced by 16% compared to 2017.

To deliver on our targets we are using a four step approach:

  • Optimising and reducing energy use
  • Innovating industrial and product design processes
  • Transitioning towards carbon free energy
  • Engaging with our key supply partners to support their decarbonisation

 

Resource preservation

The sustainable management of resources aims to promote the transition towards a circular economy, optimising the way that we use resources. Saint-Gobain’s long term ambition is to not generate waste during the production process that cannot be recovered, achieved by maximising the amount of re-used, recycled or bio-sourced content in our products. At our building glass plant in Yorkshire, for every 1,000 tonnes of waste glass (cullet) we use, we save 1,200 tonnes of natural raw materials, 322,000 kWh energy and 246 tonnes CO2. We are also focussed on embedding circular economy processes so that we can work with customers and other partners to recover and re-process as much waste material as possible, either through extending our existing waste recovery schemes or developing new circular economy models.

 

Rapid urbanisation

The global shift towards urban areas has a significant impact on the environment. Cities already consume 75% of the world’s natural resources and account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As urban areas grow, there will be an increased pressure on resources and the environment which will need to be combated by a reduction of carbon emissions. Prioritising sustainable construction and solutions in urban areas can address multiple issues in tandem including energy and water consumption and biodiversity. At Saint-Gobain our focus is on creating innovative solutions and services that help customers build better homes including meeting 2025 Future Homes Standard – a further step on the journey to delivering zero-carbon homes by 2050.

 

[1] CIOB - Climate change and sustainability

[2] Saint-Gobain - Building Our Environment, Together

Of Interest