Sustainability as an opportunity

As environmental awarness increases, demand for more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable glass solutions is growing. Glaston views the promotion of sustainable development as a business opportunity, and as a frontrunner in our industry we are involved in creating the corporate responsibility standards and practices of our industry.

Of Glaston’s customer segments, the architectural and construction segment is the biggest. Buildings will play a significant role in combating climate change. In the EU, for example, buildings account for 40%*) of total energy consumption, and 36% of carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings. The greatest potential for reducing energy consumption lies in the renovation of existing buildings. If, for example, windows of buildings in the EU were replaced by energy-efficient window units by 2030, the energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of the buildings would be approximately 30% lower than today**).

The glass processing industry has actively developed types of glass that can be used effectively to optimize the need for heating and cooling in buildings and thereby reduce energy consumption. Of these, energy-saving glass causes heat radiation to be largely reflected back indoors, while solar protection glass reduces the transmission of solar energy and thus reduces the need for cooling. In addition, double or triple insulating glass units further improve the energy efficiency of windows. Large glass surfaces also facilitate the use of daylight in buildings, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

Energy-efficient smart windows

Glaston contributes to the construction of a more energy-efficient society by offering its customers a wide range of products and services that enable them to manufacture more energy-efficient windows and insulating glass units. In 2019, Glaston’s offering expanded into insulating glass technology through the acquisition of Bystronic glass.

As environmental awareness grows, demand for solar energy and smart glass is growing. In addition to solar panels and cells, new applications of the future may include solar panels integrated into façades or windows to provide energy for buildings. In smart glass applications, windows that react to fluctuations in light or temperature, for example, improve the energy performance of buildings. Glaston is strongly involved in this development, providing via its Emerging Technologies unit engineering and consulting services for the production of smart glass and energy glass windows as well as solar energy applications.

*) Source: Renovate Europe     **) Source: Glass for Europe

  • Demand is growing for solar energy applications, such as solar panels, smart windows and integrated façades
  • Glass used in solar cells, mirrors and panels is subject to the highest quality requirements for glass thickness, durability and curved surfaces
  • The main benefit of thin glass in solar modules is that it provides better light transmission of the solar radiation, increasing the efficiency rate of the solar panels

Smart glass brings new opportunities for buildings:

  • Smart glass windows regulate thermal and light transmissivity
  • Integrated solar panels can produce energy

Megatrends

The following megatrends have a particular impact on Glaston’s development:

  • Urbanization
  • Safety
  • Energy-efficiency and environmental awareness
  • Trends in the automotive industry

Urbanization is one of the world’s most powerful forces of change. The UN has estimated that by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. At the same time, cities will become larger and more densely populated.  Through urbanization, the need for new construction will grow, and the existing building stock, too, will be developed, which will increase demand for glass.

As environmental awareness grows and construction laws and regulations become stricter, the energy-saving requirements for buildings will tighten. Insulating and energy-efficient glass is increasingly being used to meet energy-saving targets, and more safety glass is being used due to tighter safety regulations. In addition, various smart glass applications that improve energy performance.

In the automotive industry, too, requirements for the properties of glass are constantly increasing.  In vehicles, the relative proportion of glass is on the rise, and large, panoramic windshields, in particular, are making their way onto the market.  As the proportion of glass grows, however, there is a trend towards minimizing the weight of glass, with the thinness of glass playing a key role. This development is driving the growing demand for glass in the automotive and display glass industry.

Read more: What is safety glass?

Material topics

In 2019, Glaston reviewed the most material aspects of its responsibility in collaboration with the company’s main external stakeholders and its own personnel. Based on this, the key issues of responsibility were identified, with the material themes being: responsible own activities (personnel, environment, responsible business), responsible purchases, responsible partner and responsible member of society. The company’s Executive Management Group approved Glaston’s Responsibility Agenda in December 2019.

Sustainable development goals

Glaston supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will guide the sustainable development actions of member states, companies and other organizations up to 2030. We have identified six goals that also emerge from our own strategy and are most relevant to us. These provide a broader frame of reference for our work and support the achievement of these goals in our own activities.

Reporting

Some of the Responsibility Agenda topics are still at the development stage and the aim is for them to be reported more comprehensively in subsequent reports. The key indicators of responsibility have been identified and their target setting will be developed in 2020.

Development of responsibility work will continue in 2020 with the implementation of the Responsibility Agenda. Glaston will set up a corporate responsibility task force and create for responsibility work consistent company-wide processes and tools.

Download the Corporate Responsibility report.

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