Amid accelerating climate change and its adverse impact on human lives, it has become vital to use innovative solutions to make all aspects of construction development, such as design, choice of materials and construction practices, more sustainable. In the construction industry, the essence of sustainability lies in understanding how one can maximise the utility and prolong the life of a building, while exerting the least ESG (environmental, social and governance) impact.
The 3Ps of sustainability
The focus, hence, lies on finding solutions for two types of buildings – greenfield constructions, which include new buildings and brownfield constructions, which include renovation and upgrade of existing buildings. Both are resource-intensive in their own ways. However, through the use of certain sustainability frameworks, the utility and life of any building can be maximised. A very well-known and accepted framework is the 3P of sustainability. The 3Ps stand for ‘people’, ‘planet’ and ‘profit’.
Sustainable infrastructure has many overlapping benefits from the physical, environmental, economic and social perspectives. From a wider perspective, sustainable infrastructure can be a source of community wellbeing. For example, today, there are advanced fire safety and high-security glass solutions, designed to protect the occupants in the building from the threats of fire, acts of vandalism, bullet strikes and explosions, while providing them with optimal comfort.
Glass, as a material, offers multi-functional benefits in the form of acoustic comfort (noise reduction), visual and thermal benefits (low-energy consumption through the use of insulated glass units) and olfactory comfort (low VOC content). Additionally, since glass is a recyclable material, it is ideal for sustainable infrastructure development.
See also: How to use glass in your home décor
The role of EPD in green buildings
The goal to manage environmental impact of products, begins at the very first step of its production by reducing the reliance on virgin raw materials. The environmental impact of each process needs to be carefully assessed at all stages of the life cycle of the product and regular audits need to be conducted, to identify points of improvement.
It is important to run recurring life cycle assessments for products being manufactured and publish Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for the same. Verified by an independent third party, the EPD describes the product’s environmental performance, from raw material extraction to production and processing. The EPD is an essential tool for planners and architects involved in projects aimed at achieving green building certifications such as LEED, BREEAM, HQE or DGNB.
(The writer is managing director – glass solutions, Saint-Gobain India Pvt Ltd)