Saint-Gobain reveals results of latest global Sustainability Barometer

Global glass manufacturer, Saint-Gobain, has released the second edition of its Sustainable Construction Barometer, a study conducted by the CSA research institute, to understand the ways the construction industry can boost its sustainability credentials.

Initiated in 2023 across 10 countries, the Sustainable Construction Barometer has expanded in 2024 to become a quantitative survey of professionals, students, elected representatives and association members in 22 countries globally. It measures progress and identifies areas on which to focus to move sustainability forward.

A key finding from the 2024 survey is that sustainability is more important than ever before: 95% of respondents said that the implementation of more sustainable construction is an important or priority issue. This is a universal view, covering all regions and all demographics.

At the same time, however, the understanding of green construction is limited to environmental issues – most still connotate it with the energy efficiency of buildings (42%) and achieving carbon neutrality in construction (33%). The idea of green construction also incorporating resilience and occupant comfort are secondary.

Overall awareness of sustainable construction is high, with 87% of those surveyed saying they were familiar with the term (although only 80% of elected officials had heard of it). This is a 5% increase on the 2023 survey.

The priority actions identified by respondents to accelerate the development of sustainable construction are raising public awareness, mitigating concerns over perceived costs and ensuring the cooperation of all stakeholders. Conversely, the importance of public initiatives such as standards and subsidies remains underestimated.

Architects and engineering firms are seen as the most important players in advancing sustainable construction. However, all respondents are committed to the cause: 85% say they are currently focused on sustainable construction, while 92% expect to do so within the next five years.

Supply chains are also being increasingly scrutinised for their sustainable practices, with 62% (up 3% on 2023) selecting their suppliers based on their commitment to sustainability. For public contracts, this is even more pronounced: almost nine in 10 elected representatives say they look at sustainability when choosing suppliers and contractors.

Looking to the future, the next generation of construction professionals are going to be increasingly focused on sustainability: 45% of those surveyed said they would not take a job at a company that wasn’t committed to sustainable practices – a challenge for a sector already struggling to find skilled workers.

The Barometer is part of Saint-Gobain’s Sustainable Construction Observatory, which organises meetings (Sustainable Construction Talks) at key global events. In 2023, three Sustainable Construction Talks were organised, in Paris, New York and Dubai.

The Talks, and the wider Observatory, explore a range of high-level global considerations for the future of construction, including different applications of sustainable construction, varied regulatory requirements and access to funding across geographical regions and socio-economic divisions. The overall aim of the Observatory is to ensure sustainable construction is available to all, based on five key areas:

  1. Funding and risk coverage: how to facilitate investment in sustainable construction, and strengthen the role of the insurance system in adapting climate change?
  2. Adaptation and resilience: sustainable construction is still viewed in terms of climate change mitigation, but there are wider factors in play: how can the industry ensure greater consideration of adaptation and resilience?
  3. Inclusion and accessibility: how to remove social and economic barriers to sustainable construction and energy renovation?
  4. Human resources and skills: how to accelerate knowledge sharing and skills development in sustainable construction?
  5. Global and local: how to combine international alignment with local specificities?

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