Saint-Gobain, a French manufacturer of building materials and building solutions, contributed building science expertise and building products from its family of companies to renovate a historic building that is now the home to 80 cleantech startup companies that are working to solve climate challenges with their hardware-focused innovations.
Saint-Gobain worked in partnership with Greentown Labs, the largest clean technology incubator in the United States. The grand opening was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, as well as cleantech leaders from around the country, including Minas Apelian, Vice President of CertainTeed R&D, Quality and Global Director of NOVA External Ventures at Saint-Gobain.
Saint-Gobain created a partnership with Greentown Labs, located in Somerville, Mass., in 2014. The partnership is an initiative of NOVA, the external ventures arm of Saint-Gobain, which connects startups with the company’s resources to nurture their ideas and grow their companies to scale.
Saint-Gobain was the first and largest example of a corporation using the expansion facility as a test site for its products and materials. As a founding sponsor of Greentown Labs, the expansion site presented an opportunity for the company to enhance its support of the incubator and its own research and development efforts by providing building materials to make the Center a world-class facility that maximizes the comfort and well-being of members of Greentown Labs.
“Saint-Gobain’s continued partnership has contributed to Greentown Labs’ growth and ability to maintain our mission of supporting cleantech startups with the community and resources they need to thrive,” said Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs.
The Global Center for Cleantech Innovation is adjacent to the incubator’s previous headquarters, which will be fully converted to laboratory space. The Greentown Labs campus now provides its members with prototyping lab space, a wet lab, a machine shop, electronics shop, office space for more than 450 entrepreneurs and a 500-person event space.
The Global Center for Cleantech Innovation was designed using innovative technology from two of Saint-Gobain’s brands: CertainTeed and SageGlass. Approximately 830 square feet of SageGlass, the world’s smartest electrochromic glass, was installed on the third floor of the Center to help achieve the building’s sustainability goals while creating a workplace that optimizes employee well-being by maintaining outdoor views and preventing heat gain and glare. Member feedback will allow building scientists to measure the impact SageGlass has on occupant comfort. The data collected, and subsequent analysis will directly impact future product and business development.
CertainTeed installed a suite of its products in the Center, including a 33,000-square-foot Flintlastic® SA Self-Adhered Roof System and an array of acoustical ceiling and wall solutions that create a quiet, comfortable environment conducive to occupant productivity while also conserving energy and resources.
“Our nearly five-year partnership with Greentown Labs is all about sharing ideas, culture and community. As a company that has been creating great living places and improving daily life by combining comfort and sustainability for more than three-and-a-half centuries, we saw an opportunity to share our knowledge and products with Greentown Labs to ensure the Center was built with materials that are as technologically advanced and sustainable as the solutions that are being invented there. We also saw an opportunity for our building scientists to test our products in a real work environment, similarly to how we do in Saint-Gobain’s North American headquarters, which helps us improve our products to meet the needs of our customers,” said Apelian.
The expanded facility is allowing Saint-Gobain to maintain its existing test facilities and increase on-site prototyping capabilities, available to Greentown Labs members and Saint-Gobain employees.
Getting It Done: Vendors Mentioned Above