The LafargeHolcim logo will be displayed in the offices in Switzerland in September 2019.
Stefan Wermuth | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Cement maker LafargeHolcim has agreed to buy specialist roofing company Firestone Building Products for $ 3.4 billion. This is the latest example of the shift in priorities within the construction industry.
In a statement released last week, LafargeHolcim – the world’s largest cement maker – FSBP played “an important role” in reducing energy loss through the roofs of buildings. It is agreed to buy the insulated, solar, “cool” and green roof company from Bridgestone Americas’ tire and rubber business.
Jan Jenisch, CEO of LafargeHolcim, spoke to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Friday about the strengths of FSBP in “new sustainable solutions”. He described the move as the “perfect addition” to his company’s goal of “being the most sustainable and innovative building materials supplier of the future”.
A changing industry
The environmental impact of the construction industry is significant. According to a 2018 report by Chatham House, over 4 billion tons of cement are produced annually. According to the political institute, this accounts for around 8% of global CO2 emissions.
With increasing environmental concerns, there is a renewed focus on the sustainability of buildings, and large companies in the industry are looking to improve their options in terms of products, systems and technologies.
The purchase of FSBP complements LafargeHolcim’s other products, including ECOPact concrete, which the company claims can cause “30% to 100% less carbon emissions compared to standard concrete (CEM I)”.
According to the company, the acquisition of FSBP will add three research and development laboratories, 1,800 distribution points and 15 manufacturing facilities to the network. Looking ahead, LafargeHolcim said it wanted to “globalize business quickly”.
Sustainable optimizations, new materials
When it comes to green building, using the roof of a structure to increase its sustainability attributes is well established.
Around the world, many developments – from supermarkets and sports stadiums to parking lots and office buildings – have solar panels that can produce energy to help run electricity.
So-called “green roofs” are also seen as a means of improving the functionality and interaction of a building with its surroundings.
From small plots to extensive rooftop gardens, green roofs can help improve city air quality, provide insulation, and provide habitats for wildlife such as insects and birds, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.
Examples include a six-acre “living roof” at the Vancouver Convention Center in Canada. According to the center, the roof acts “as an insulator,” which helps to reduce heat gain in the summer months and lower heat loss in winter.
In addition to the external modifications and changes that are transforming the buildings we live in, the nuts and bolts of developments – how they are designed and built – are also experiencing change driven by technology and ideas about sustainability.
For example, last year it was announced that a UK-based science-business collaboration would work to develop “low-carbon smart pipes” that could be used in large infrastructure projects.