Dutt Thirumalai, International Business Development Manager at Saint-Gobain shares insights on the importance of developing solutions that are local, accessible and that respond to the customers’ needs.

As part of a series of Q&As, constructsteel is interviewing experts within the construction sector on aspects of steel’s performance and sustainability in the built environment.

Saint-Gobain has been at the forefront of innovation in offering lighter and sustainable solutions to make the world a better home. We continue to strive for excellence in offering world-class performance solutions that help in keeping the planet greener, homes more comfortable and with ability to adapt to changing needs, as well as office and commercial spaces that are flexible and innovative helping with productivity and providing a better user experience.

With the rising need to address climate change and raw material depletion, we strongly believe in solutions that are local, accessible and that respond to the needs of our customers. We understand the growing demand for materials in solutions that use less resources, are easily recyclable and/or easily adaptable, that perform for the lifetime of buildings and beyond. This means using lighter and high-performance materials that, in the sum effect of a combined system, deliver better comfortable space as well as easier installation.

This also means utilising lighter materials such as gypsum, insulation, and steel to deliver affordable and sustainable buildings for the future that maximise internal space and capture the needs of the occupants for years to come.

With the importance of building faster, cleaner, and resource-efficient buildings whilst consuming less CO2, it is well established that steel can provide part of the solution alongside concrete and timber. What is unique though is steel is 100% recyclable and usage of recycled steel also minuses energy demand for production of new steel components.

Steel buildings also perform well in demanding conditions including seismic zones and as they are lighter, demand less resources overall during build phase offsetting the carbon impact of production. Steel buildings could save up to 15% of foundation costs on average and in combination with other lighter above-ground solutions of lighters walls, façade, floors, and roof. An example from Saint-Gobain is our Isover F4 facades which is factory fabricated Special topic: Developing solutions that respond to customer needs Dutt Thirumalai International Business Development Manager, Saint-Gobain and delivers solutions with 10 times less CO2 during production than traditional façades. The same is true for prefabricated wall panels with steel frame that are lighter and easily transportable to job sites.

With green hydrogen steel production for the future and sustainably sourced electric-arc furnace steel, the argument for steel buildings is ever stronger and is set to grow. Saint-Gobain realises the importance of this construction method and is able to offer a number of solutions to address acoustics, fire, thermal, moisture management, and comfort requirements of steel framed buildings.

Steel framed construction also lends itself to off-site construction technology that enables further minimisation of resources, improved performance, reduced time to build and improved finish expectation of buildings’ end users. At the end of the natural life cycle of the building, the components that go into these solutions can be dismantled and reused too with minimal intervention which further amplifies the sustainability credentials.

Addressing the issue of sustainability with industry players and associations like the World Steel Association, and programmes such as constructsteel is even more important to deliver on ambitious sustainability goals of corporations and countries where it is no longer a question of commitment but a race to be relevant in the future. There is more innovation in this area to be delivered including responsive materials that adapt to environment, materials that contribute to whole steel structural integrity thereby optimising components and easy de-mountability and full transparency through system Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and whole-building Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).

Saint-Gobain has been working closely with constructsteel supporting the activity and building relationship with steel companies to mutually benefit our businesses. Given the challenges mentioned above, it is more important than ever to foster on these relationships, enhance collaboration activities and support each other in accelerating the message and delivering success for all.