Saint-Gobain R&D eyes affordable housing

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French glassmaker Saint-Gobain opened a Rs.200 crore research and development facility, situated at the IIT-Madras Research Park. The centre will focus on developing solutions using waste materials for affordable housing projects in India and emerging markets.

“This will be our seventh R&D centre globally, which will support existing businesses and develop solutions for new businesses,” said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO Saint-Gobain. “India is a perfect test bed for habitat R&D for hot and humid climate countries and our facility will focus on developing solutions for such regions.”

The Chennai R&D centre, which presently employs about 100 people, is involving IIT-M and other stakeholders of the construction industry to develop materials and standards for affordable housing segment.

“Frugal innovation will be core of our mission and we will try and take the academic collaboration to next level,” said Anand Tanikella, Director, Saint-Gobain Research India (SGRI).

SGRI has already embarked on pilot projects with Tata Housing for affordable segment.

In another pilot exercise, it has set up 20 small housing units across four climatic regions in India and it has been evaluating and analysing the behaviours of buildings and materials.

Implementation was a challenge in the affordable housing segment in the country, Mr.Tanikella said.

“It is not due to lack of technology or another related reasons. Our objective is to develop solutions that will help scale up the projects in this segment.”

Overall, its R&D operations focus on innovative construction solutions to offer thermal, acoustic, health and visual comfort – by using natural lighting and aesthetic solutions – that meet safety requirements and the desire for modular space.

Globally, Saint-Global spends about 400 million euros on research and development every year.

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