Ceramic Industry News

Saint-Gobain Breaks Ground on $15 Million R&D Center Expansion (posted 7/30/08)

Saint-Gobain recently conducted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of work on the expansion of its Research & Development Center in Northboro, Mass. The $15 million dollar expansion is expected to be completed by the spring of 2009. The expansion will provide permanent space for 160 employees who are currently based in temporary trailers, as well as space for up to 40 new employees. In addition, 30 new jobs will be created, bringing the total workforce in Northboro to 340 employees.

The project will add more than 61,000 square feet of laboratory, office and meeting space. The expansion was prompted in part by Saint-Gobain’s emphasis on its global mission: “to attain worldwide leadership in construction markets offering innovative solutions to meet the fundamental global challenges of growth, energy and the environment.”

The Northboro site is the largest of Saint-Gobain’s four worldwide research centers, which together employ 3500 people and have an annual research budget of $620 million. The center specializes in research for building materials, plastics, ceramics and abrasives, as well as the development of leading-edge technology to promote energy efficiency in buildings. The center has grown dramatically over the past four years as a result of the relocation of several of Saint-Gobain’s R&D teams to Northboro. “This new facility will provide a state-of-the art environment that will keep Saint-Gobain at the forefront of materials science and product design,” said Rakesh Kapoor, R&D Director.

The Northboro site was previously expanded in 2003, when one building was converted from manufacturing to research activities. The new building is being designed by Boston architects Shepley Bulfinch, one of the country’s leading science and research architecture firms. The space is designed to promote collaboration between teams of researchers and to encourage innovation and creativity. “By designing this building to be stripped of physical and cultural boundaries, we have created space that flows to energize employees,” said Thomas Kearns, principal architect. “That’s what sparks innovation-the real lifeblood of an R&D center. It’s an example of real global leadership to have a space that is so dynamic in such a sustainable context.”

The completed structure will have a silver rating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system of the U.S. Green Building Council, assuring a high level of energy efficiency and environmental performance. The building has also been designed to adhere to Saint-Gobain’s rigorous worldwide energy efficiency standards for new company buildings. Another special feature will be the use of Saint-Gobain’s own building products, particularly those of its subsidiary CertainTeed, which will provide ceilings, gypsum wallboard, insulation, roofing and foundation products. Window glass for the new building will also be manufactured by Saint-Gobain.

“This building will make unprecedented use of Saint-Gobain products, acting as a showcase for Saint-Gobain building materials and energy-saving solutions,” said Kapoor. “The LEED Silver Rating is attained by less than 10% of all U.S. buildings. Our expanded facility will be one of the most energy-efficient in the country.”

The company’s website is located at www.saint-gobain-corporation.com.


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