Saint-Gobain launches the ‘Sustainable Construction Observatory’
This year, Saint-Gobain has taken a significant step in the construction industry by launching the ‘Sustainable Construction Observatory’, with the aim of bringing together key stakeholders in the sector to promote knowledge exchange and accelerate the global transformation of the industry. Sustainable construction is recognized as a priority topic, although it has not yet been standardized.
In this context, Saint-Gobain presents the results of the first International Sustainable Construction Barometer, a study conducted in collaboration with the CSA Institute, which involved professionals from the sector, public officials, associations, and students. Over 800 people from 10 countries participated in this survey, providing an overview of the development of sustainable construction worldwide and identifying the expectations, drivers, and trends necessary to make sustainable construction a shared reference.
THE SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION OBSERVATORY
In the face of climate, environmental, and demographic challenges, and at a time when comprehensive renovation efforts are crucial, mobilizing the construction sector can lead to a drastic and sustainable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions related to housing and construction, while preserving non-renewable natural resources and providing decent and comfortable homes for all.
“Saint-Gobain wants to be a reference and driving force to involve all stakeholders in the construction sector’s transition. With this goal in mind, we have created the Sustainable Construction Observatory, with the Barometer as a key component. The initial results show that sustainable construction is considered a priority in all major regions of the world. However, we also observe that not all the benefits of sustainable construction are always considered, and the sector is not always clearly understood. We identify the need for educational efforts, evidence to be provided, and actions to be taken to convince the entire value chain of the need for acceleration,” explains Benoit Bazin, CEO of Saint-Gobain.
AN OVERVIEW OF SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION WORLDWIDE
The International Sustainable Construction Barometer reveals that although sustainable construction is widely recognized as a priority, it is not yet fully reflected in decision-making. 88% of respondents claim to be familiar with the concept of sustainable construction, and 97% consider the implementation of more sustainable buildings as a priority or important. However, the definition given mainly focuses on environmental issues, without considering the social and human dimension, such as health, well-being, and occupant comfort.
In emerging countries, especially in South Africa and India, which are more affected by climate problems and rapid urbanization, there is a higher awareness of the importance of sustainable construction. Although 63% of professionals surveyed believe that implementing sustainable construction is a priority, only 30% have carried out projects that take it into account. Furthermore, 57% estimate that more than half of their activity will be related to sustainable construction in the next five years.
DRIVERS TO ACCELERATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
Respondents identified three main drivers to accelerate the development of sustainable construction:
Competitiveness of solutions: Perceived cost is considered one of the obstacles to the development of sustainable construction, according to 70% of respondents. However, building sustainably is not necessarily more expensive in the long run. Sustainable construction solutions allow for well-insulated, climate-resilient, modular, and reusable buildings, generating energy savings and economic and social benefits.
Key role of public policy: 44% of respondents believe that public institutions are the most legitimate actors to drive sustainable construction. However, there is still a lack of action from elected officials, as most of them do not exclude non-sustainable construction methods from public contracts. Greater political will is needed to drive change.
Better support for all sector actors: The Barometer reveals a gap between the importance placed on training in sustainable construction techniques and the perception that professionals are not adequately trained. 38% of respondents feel insufficiently equipped in sustainable construction. This highlights the need for increased investment in education and training to bridge this gap.
The results of the International Sustainable Construction Barometer are a wake-up call for the entire industry. Collective mobilization is crucial to lead the transition to sustainable construction. Greater clarification of the definition, regulatory changes, political will, and commitment from all stakeholders, from students and elected officials to project leaders, banks, and insurers, are necessary.
The Sustainable Construction Observatory, driven by Saint-Gobain, aims to facilitate this process and foster collaboration and knowledge exchange in the sector. Sustainable construction is a global challenge that will require the joint effort of all involved to achieve a more sustainable future in the construction industry.
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