R&D at SOPREMA: building (for) the future

soprema building for the future

 

As the number one energy consumer and the third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter worldwide, the building industry is in dire need of reform. SOPREMA’s R&D teams are not only developing the necessary knowledge to create future-proof products and solutions; we also offer our customers assistance to increase the energy performance of their projects and to help them reduce waste at the source. In this article, we zoom in on three particular ways in which we reduce our carbon footprint and enable customers to reduce theirs, in order to combat climate change together. 

 

Context: “The future is now”

In 2019, SOPREMA published its first non-financial performance statement and the accompanying SOPREMA CSR White book, illustrating our proposals and strategies to address environmental and societal challenges. But our sustained efforts to rethink the future of the building sector date back much further. Take the “The future is now” initiative, for instance, which was launched in 2017 to show that the technologies available today can indeed guarantee the sustainability of a building or renovation, from the design stage right up to upkeep and maintenance. 

 

To impact the entire value chain, SOPREMA has teamed up with various building trades and leading industrial partners, to maximise properties’ life cycles and to anticipate their second life. In addition to the deconstruction and recycling of materials, “The future is now” specifically focuses on biodiversity, contributions from solar power, water and energy management and combatting the urban heat island effect. 

 

The future of building: eco-sourced raw materials 

Our R&D teams are hard at work to develop eco-sourced materials from recycling or biomass, to replace petroleum-based raw materials. R&D Director Rémi Perrin: “We are happy and proud to propose a portfolio of products for which no raw materials coming from the oil industry were used. Our XPS insulation panels, for instance, are made from recycled polystyrene fish boxes.” Other examples of bio-sourced solutions include Mammouth® Néo, a bitumen-free waterproofing membrane and Pavatex® insulation manufactured from waste sawmill wood shavings.  

 

Adding new functionalities to the building envelope

Due to the vastness and variety of our product range, SOPREMA can act as a supplier for the entire building envelope. This makes us perfectly placed to upgrade the building envelope, which, for SOPREMA, not merely serves to protect a building against the elements but can (and should) also contain all kinds of new functionalities, such as the ability to produce sustainable electricity with solar power. Indeed, for more than a decade already, Soprasolar® has been turning roofs into renewable electricity factories

Rémi Perrin explains: “Many of our projects, for instance in Spain, the south of France and Italy, are at grid parity, meaning that the electricity from the solar panels on the roofs generate power at the same price as power from the grid would cost. We have a lot of experience with solar energy in those sunny regions, but we continue to develop our photovoltaic panels in many other countries as well.”

 

Maximising the available space

In addition to outfitting the building envelope with new functionalities, SOPREMA wants to use the envelope as an extra ‘room’, thereby maximising the space homeowners have at their disposal. This is not only relevant in the context of rising urban populations, Rémi Perrin says: “The COVID crisis had people all over the world locked inside for long stretches of time, which points to the need – both in domestic and office environments – to create flat roofs that people can stroll on, take some air and be surrounded by greenery.” To support this vision, SOPREMA offers all the technologies and products needed to make flat roofs accessible to pedestrians and / or to transform them into green roofs.