TheInternational Year of Glass established by the United Nations has come to an end. However, this does not mean that glass in construction will recede into the background. On the contrary. We talk to Benedict Kordula, marketing director of Saint-Gobain Glass, about the essence of glazing in architecture, the long-term provision of comfort to users, the fight against climate change and the brand's plans for 2023.
Interview with Benedict Kordula
Intense development of production technologies has made today's glass solutions the answer to almost every architectural challenge. It is impossible not to appreciate their versatility and the significant difference in the quality of use of the buildings in which they have been applied. Can glass in the third decade of the 21st century still surprise us with anything?
Benedykt Kordula: Definitely. Glass is an extremely graceful material, and as a manufacturer of high-end glazing, we certainly haven't said the last word when it comes to innovations. What's more - we are convinced that the constant development of manufacturing technologies will soon take us to places we once didn't even dream of. We already have a strong feeling that work on improving the properties of glass is yielding astonishing results, both in the form of better functionality or multifaceted user comfort, as well as greater safety for the planet. And you don't have to look far for evidence. In 2022, Saint-Gobain Glass solutions from every manufacturing branch premiered. There were enhanced versions of facade, window and interior glass, as well as entirely new proposals - all created in accordance with the principles of sustainability and wellbeing. MIRASTAR REFLECT mirror effect glass, which creates stunning arrangements without burdening the environment, COOL-LITE XTREME 61/29 (II) solar control glass that protects rooms from overheating in the summer, 4BIRDS facade glass that promotes the preservation of biodiversity, 4BIRDS facade glass that prevents birds from colliding with thefaçade surface, lightweight, energy-efficient CLIMATOP XN LIGHT triple-glazing packages with low-emission coating for excellent building insulation, or finally the first ORAÉ base glass on the market with a reduced carbon footprint that will revolutionize modern architecture. These are products that make it possible to fulfill the principles of sustainable construction in the long term, so they can confidently be called solutions of the future.
The aspect of eco-friendliness you just mentioned is particularly emphasized during the International Year of Glass. However, this does not mean that sustainability is new to the glass industry, quite the contrary.
Benedict Kordula: Sustainable construction emphasizes the transformation of the production system to a circular economy model. This is, of course, a long-term process that requires regularity. The EU directives and gradually tightening building regulations introduced in recent years have been a clear signal to manufacturers which way to go in order to be able to meet regulations as well as environmental challenges in the near future. That time is now. Recycling has become a cornerstone of manufacturing methods and a symbol of the responsible entrepreneur. The glass industry is no different. The drive to decarbonize Saint-Gobain Glass plants began a dozen years ago. We are using more and more cullet to produce our solutions so that we can reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by steel mills and the embedded and operational carbon footprint of the facilities that use our glazing. By 2030, the average share of cullet in flat glass melting will reach 40%, in 2050 we want to reach a ceiling of at least 50%. This would not be possible if it were not for investments in modernization and automation of production lines - at this point we have the best Float and Magnetron lines in Europe. All our activities are reinforced by the Grow&Impact strategy adopted by the Saint-Gobain Group, which sets the direction of development for all brands over the next 30 years.
You can boast of a very specific strategy for action until 2050, but let's return our thoughts a little closer. What are the brand's plans for the coming year?
Benedict Kordula: In 2023, we are continuing to reduce CO2 emissions at all our plants, increasing the share of cullet from the pre-consumer market in the float glass production process. We hope to put into the hands of customers further innovative solutions that our experts are working on. Already, almost 25% of Saint-Gobain Glass's product portfolio consists of products developed in the last 5 years. We know that there is no progress without consistency, so investing in the development of our know-how and commitment to R&D is another priority for us. As is sharing knowledge about the function of glass in architecture with a wide audience. Building awareness of this building material allows consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions and take care of their own comfort, as well as the condition of the environment. In 2023, we are planning a campaign showing the role of glass over time and highlighting its importance in our daily lives. In turn, the beginning of the year will see a campaign entitled "The Power of Glass," which touches on the topic of the safety of glazing and the differences resulting from the different types of glass - annealed, tempered and laminated. We will certainly continue to promote base glass with a reduced carbon footprint, which gives the building sector a chance to effectively combat the climate crisis. Sustainable buildings and people-friendly interiors created using our products are the starting point for the first edition of our proprietary competition for architects and designers - the Saint-Gobain Glass Design Award, which launched in November 2022 and will run until March 2023. This is a very exciting challenge for us, as we have managed to invite prominent figures of Polish architecture to work with us. Thus, we are counting on the high level of works submitted by participants and an in-depth discussion on the use of advanced glass solutions in projects.
building with the use of façade glass
Photo: Saint-Gobain Glass
The year 2022 has been hailed by the United Nations as the International Year of Glass, but the activities of the glass and construction industry are proof that this is not a one-off award, as the role of glazing in architecture continues to gain importance.
Benedykt Kordula: Yes, interest in glass is constantly growing. Observing market preferences, we see increased demand for double-glazed packages, especially in the segment of renovation, modernization and energy optimization of buildings to current standards. Given that construction today is responsible for nearly 40% of CO2 emissions, this interest is not much of a surprise. Architects and private investors are looking for solutions to help reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, and are primarily concerned with the energy efficiency of the building envelope, reaching for insulation and window joinery, where modern glazing or glass facades are key. Let me remind you that in 2020 as many as 82% of designers predicted the need for an increased presence of glass in architecture, today this trend is noticeably gaining momentum. And although the International Year of Glass is coming to an end, the above trends make it clear that the era of glass in modern architecture continues and will continue at its best. We give people the comfort of light and space.
Thank you for the interesting conversation.
Benedict Kordula: And I thank you very much.