“Lafarge Invention Awards”: a European competition to promote innovation in sustainable construction

6 January 2011

Three projects from France, Poland and Serbia were recognized yesterday for the quality of their work by an international panel of judges chaired by Bruno Lafont, Chairman and CEO of Lafarge. The winners received a prize of €20,000 each as well as future mentoring from Lafarge to support the development of their innovative ideas.

"Lafarge Invention Awards": a competition to promote and encourage innovation

Created in 2010, the "Lafarge Invention Awards" were designed to reward and support projects of European researchers and entrepreneurs on building materials (though products, industrial procedures, construction methods or services) contributing to sustainable construction.

The Group launched the competition in June to European countries, through an information campaign relayed locally to universities, research institutes and chambers of commerce. Ten finalists were selected from over a hundred applications received from eighteen countries. The judges came to their decision after each finalist presented their project yesterday at the Group's Technology Center in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, near Lyon.

Pascal Casanova, Lafarge VP R&D, commented:

"We believe that all contributions are important to foster creative research. Lafarge invests heavily in research within the Group, but this contest demonstrates our willingness to be also challenged by external ideas. Helping these projects will enable new solutions to develop and contribute to more sustainable constructions through new uses of our materials".

Following the success of this first event, the Group will soon extend the competition to other continents.

The Winners:

  • First price: P.R.O.M.E.S.S (Protecting Marine Ecosystems and Structure against Scour) developed by SM2 Solutions Marines in France, represented by Sven-Michel Lourié & Michèle Cabanis.
    P.R.O.M.E.S.S is an Artificial Reef, made of concrete incorporating shell waste, with an anti-scour system, containing a layer of artificial seagrass which enable to fix the reef. The system is rapidly colonized by invertebrates, algae epiphytes and fish. It fosters biodiversity and fisheries, while also providing scour protection for underwater structures such as offshore windpower piles, cables and pipelines.
  • Second price: Thermal Barrier, developed by Marek Kraczek from Gdansk University of Technology in Poland.
    The thermal barrier system maintains a constant temperature of around 19°C in a building throughout the year, thanks to an indirect heating and cooling technology which supplies energy into the external walls of a building rather than into internal air. It combines a roof-collecting solar energy and ground heat storage system to heat polypropylene U-pipes placed inside external walls. This limits temperature variations in the external walls, or energy losses.
  • Third price: New building construction technology with continuously insulated pre-fabricated concrete panel system, developed by Mr. Jovan Nikolic of Quattro Construction in Serbia.
    This new construction technology features a concrete panel system, with internal insulation to avoid "thermal bridges"* and thus improves energy efficiency. Multi-functional tools are used to produce pre-fabricated panels of various dimensions before installation on-site. Connecting panels both ‘wall to wall', but also ‘wall to ceiling' connections ensures the building's insulation with an estimated 80% reduction in energy consumption through the avoidance of "thermal bridges".

* A "thermal bridge" is heat loss at the joints between the outside walls and mid-level floors.

Innovation: a strategic priority for Lafarge

Lafarge has made innovation a strategic focus in order to develop for its customers materials which best meet their needs, as well as solutions which will address the construction challenges of the future.  The Group is tackling all levels of the construction chain and offers innovative materials with a lower environmental footprint, as well as construction solutions which increase the energy efficiency of buildings and prolong the performance of constructions generally. Lafarge is fully committed to sustainable construction and more than 50% of its annual R&D budget to this field.


Notes to editors

Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With more than 78,000 employees in 78 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 15.9 billion in 2009.
In 2010 and for the sixth year in a row, Lafarge was listed in the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.

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