The vocabulary of Sustainable Building

The global demand for resilient housing and cities is expected to continue growing at a very fast pace. 

At Saint-Gobain, we are committed to supplying the construction market with a unique portfolio of ever-more sustainable building materials and solutions, developed with our unique analytical tool and innovation accelerator SCORE.

But we need to contribute to the overall sector’s effort. 

Through our partnership with the World Green Building Council, specific concepts like Multi Comfort, or our Green Building Platform, we are leading the way towards sustainable construction.

For those of you who want to read the details about Green Buildings, we thought a glossary might come in handy. You’re welcome!



Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a very broad term that describes the process of creating and managing digital information about a built asset such as a building, bridge, highway or tunnel.

The range of BIM 'maturity levels' are categorized as:

Level 0: Unmanaged CAD (Computer Aided Design).

Level 1: Managed CAD in 2D or 3D.

Level 2: Managed 3D environment with data attached but created in separate discipline models.

Level 3: Single, online, project model with construction sequencing, cost and life-cycle management information.

Saint-Gobain has been involved in digital modelling and then in BIM (Building Information Modelling) since 2004. To find out more about our BIM commitment


Gathers all the information needed throughout a building full life cycle, including 3D object data, scheduling (4D), cost (5D), sustainability (6D), and operations and maintenance (O&M) (7D)

Building Thermal Parameters

The guidelines, restrictions, and framework of the thermal and heat conductivity in a building.


The BODx (stands for Expanded Basis of Design) is a new building design method, focusing on improving the quality and cost effectiveness of the developed design throughout the full life cycle. It encompasses Construction, Operations and Maintenance considerations.



The richness and variety of all living forms, species, and greenery in the ecosystem.


Water collected from rainfall

Carbon Footprint

The amount of carbon being emitted over a full cycle of a product’s lifespan.


It is when an activity inputs and outputs the same amount of carbon, resulting in a net zero carbon footprint.

Saint-Gobain just announced its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.


A life cycle assessment of a product from the moment it’s been extracted (cradle) until it reaches the factory “gate”.  


An expansion of cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-grave is a life cycle assessment of a product from the moment it has been extracted from its natural source, until its disposal.


C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change. 

Saint-Gobain held the 15th Multi Confort Student Contest in Milan, which is one of the C40 cities. More about the contest here.

Embodied Carbon is the carbon emitted into the atmosphere during the mining, harvesting, transport, manufacturing, and distribution of a building material.

How can we indeed reduce materials carbon footprint before they even get to the construction site? We are committed all along the value chain, developing products with our unique SCORE tool and solutions, developing models for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping processes and reducing the environmental footprint of our industrial processes. 

For instance, glasswool can be compressed to up to a tenth of its volume reducing considerably transport and storage expenses as well as wastes on sites. Units are then gathered on pallets improving efficiency of logistics operations. On a pallet, 36 rolls of glass can be packed up.

Integrated Design

Building design in which different components of design, such as the building envelope, window placement and glazing, and mechanical systems are considered together.


Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is a general indicator of the quality of conditions inside a building. It can also include functional aspects of space, for example whether the layout provides access to equipment when needed and whether the building has sufficient space for its occupants.

IEQ is an evolution or Indoor Air Quality, and takes more criteria into consideration, looking at the overall well-being of people in buildings. Our expertise in building science and commitment to multi-comfort has been recognized; Our latest initiative was the launch of Kandu, a turnkey service to improve workspace acoustics, air quality, lighting, thermal comfort and lay out: diagnosis, recommendations and installation of selected solutions.


Life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-to-grave analysis) is a technique to evaluate a product’s full costs - starting from raw material to final disposal - in terms of consumption of resources, energy, and waste

To improve, you have to measure first. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the main tool used by Saint-Gobain to assess the environmental impact of products and solutions. Rigorous and complete, this tool is the most widely used on the sustainable construction market today.

nZEBs (nearly-zero energy buildings) 

The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD, 2010/31/EC)1 introduced the definition of nZEB as a building with very high energy performance where the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be extensively covered by renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.

On-Site Generation

Onsite generation is the production of energy at the point of use – the site where it is to be consumed. It is a form of decentralized energy, enabling a business to make and use its own energy at a particular location, rather than buying that energy through the grid

SCORE (Saint-Gobain)

SCORE (the first of its kind on the construction market) is used to assess construction products in terms of sustainability, taking into account 21 indicators in five categories (energy and climate, health, materials and circular economy, water and local value creation). For Saint-Gobain, a sustainable product is defined by assessing its performance throughout its entire life cycle on two dimensions: how it contributes to reduced environmental and health impact, and how it delivers increased benefits for customers.

Find out more


Total Cost of Ownership is the total cost of owning an asset over a period of time. In the real estate and construction industry this usually means the total cost of designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining a project throughout its useful life.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), substances that vaporize at room temperature and can cause health problems.

Activ’air gypsum board solutions helps to reduce VOC’s by absorbing it.


If you’re reading about various certifications, you might want to visit our Green Building platform, that guides sustainable construction professionals through their sustainable certification process.


Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings. BREEAM was first published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), UK, in 1990


Is a certification issued by the German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen). The conceptual principles of the DGNB revolve around a holistic understanding of sustainability, encompassing environmental, economic and sociocultural factors. 


EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) is a green building certification system that enables design teams and project owners to assess the most cost-effective ways to incorporate energy and water saving options into their buildings.


HQE International is a declination of the HQE™ (High Quality Environmental) certification created in 2005 in France. The HQE™ certification applies to residential and non-residential green building as well as infrastructures and urban planning and is operated worldwide by CERWAY since 2013.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), created in 1998 by US Green Building Council, is an American certification program. This label is widely used worldwide, covering over 165 countries. 


The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) is the world’s first standard focused exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness. WELL is developed and delivered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) since 2014.