NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Touring the Saint-Gobain facility in Northborough on Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern spoke highly about the building material company's work, particularly in the area of energy efficiency.
"All of the stuff you do is cutting edge," McGovern said. "It's all looking toward the future."
Located on Goddard Road, Northborough's Saint-Gobain facility is one of many around the world. Founded in Paris in 1665 to make glass for the Palace of Versailles, the company expanded over the centuries into the large multinational that it is today, employing 195,000 people in 64 countries.
Director Anne Hardy explained the company focuses on "habitat," which refers to the relationship between people and their environment.
"How do we look at the whole lifetime of the products we're making?" Hardy asked. This, she added, includes energy efficiency and sustainability.
Hardy pointed out that 40 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. is consumed in buildings. One product, solid oxide fuel cells, is being developed to increase energy efficiency. They are designed to convert the chemical energy found in fuel and air into electricity and heat, which can then simultaneously power and heat homes.
"It's a very efficient way of generating energy," Hardy said.
McGovern talked about the importance of subsidizing alternate energy sources and efficiency methods to help consumers and businesses adopt them.
The difficulty, he said, is to "get people to address that initial capital cost of your building, and in the long run you save money."