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Sustainable construction

The environmental footprint of buildings needs to be reduced throughout their lifecycle in order to respond to the challenges of climate change. Lafarge follows a rigorous methodology, invests in innovation and brings together all its partners to develop solutions promoting sustainable and efficient construction solutions.

What is sustainable construction?

In practice, sustainable construction means:

  • reducing the negative impact of building sites (noise, dust, repetitive tasks),

  • integrating renewable energy sources at the design stage,

  • using recyclable materials in construction to preserve natural resources,

  • improving the thermal inertia of buildings to reduce heating and air-conditioning costs and CO2 emissions,

  • controlling the aging of structures,

  • recycling materials and structures after demolition,

  • designing low-cost housing to improve living conditions for low-income populations.

 

The Lafarge approach: a sustainable building throughout its life cycle

Buildings represent nearly 40% of global energy demand. Reducing constructions' environmental footprint is an essential tool in fighting climate change. At least 80% of a building's energy consumption occurs during its use. It is therefore vital to improve its performances throughout its lifecycle.

 

To do this, Lafarge has developed an approach based on 3 priority focuses:

  • economizing energy consumption;
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • keeping construction costs as low as possible;
  • while improving structures' other environmental and social footprints as much as possible.

 

To achieve these objectives, the Group uses the life cycle assessment (LCA) method, which quantifies a product's or building's environmental footprint throughout its life (greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, water consumption, transport, etc.).

 

Single-family homes in Norway with roofs of Lafarge Tekkin

Challenges addressed by sustainable construction

Sustainable construction addresses two major global challenges:

 

  • Environmental. In a building's total life cycle, the construction sector:

    • accounts for 40% of CO2 emissions and waste in developed countries,

    • accounts for 37% of those countries' energy demand.

 

  • Economic and social. The construction sector:

    • accounts for 10% of the world's GDP (Gross Domestic Product),

    • employs over 100 million people, or 28% of the global workforce.

 

Low-energy housing

Discover a flash animation of the 20 golden rules of sustainable construction combined with the Group's innovative solutions and products.

Involving the whole sector

Lafarge believes that a building's environment footprint begins from its design stage. In order to offer solutions upstream in the value chain, the Group focuses on innovation, devoting over 50% of its R&D investments in 2010, representing more than 70 million euros, to sustainable construction.

The Group works in close collaboration with the leading research centers and prestigious universities worldwide, including:

  • MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) in the United States:
  • the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées and the CNRS in France;
  • Tsinghua University in China;
  • IIT Madras in India.

 

Lafarge also carries out research in collaboration with architecture firms and engineering offices to offer solutions with environmental characteristics most suited to projects. For example, the Group worked with the firm Arte Charpentier to design Essilor's new R&D center, which sets an environmental benchmark.

 

Collaboration with players in the sector also includes partnerships with project owners, such as Bouygues Construction, with whom Lafarge develops innovative solutions responding to sustainable construction challenges.

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