Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR

Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability


Environmental housing: the reasons why the French acclaim newcomer Logelis



05/25/2017

A new company, based in France but addressing a global market, is disrupting the housing industry with new design and building techniques. Following a chance encounter in Dubai with a luxury home builder who used boat materials, Logelis CEO Renaud Sassi designed a new way to build homes in a faster, cheaper and more convenient way. And, before you ask, no, it's not low-quality – it's at the top of the market.


The Logelis way of building homes is a fully integrated building process, where walls are built containing every connection it needs, and latched on to each other. Until now, contractors would built the walls, and then the networks in or on them: electricity, plumbing, lighting, etc.  But that proved long and complicated, as most home-builders warn on their websites : ”Your builder won’t install insulation until the mechanical systems have been approved. Insulation can block the view of wiring systems, leading to delays in approval.”
 
Logelis walls are a mixture of fiber cement and polyurethane, for optimal insulation and robustness. Build Direct Learning center describes fiber cement as “ resistant to insects, fungus, and UV damage...  holds up well over time and resists fire, making it one of the more durable siding materials on the market.”  As for polyurethane, it is described by FAO as “One of the best commercially available choices of insulation material. It has good thermal insulating properties, low moisture-vapour permeability, high resistance to water absorption, relatively high mechanical strength and low density.” Clients can choose their standardized elements from a large catalog and then simply assemble their homes on the concrete surface of their choice.  Extensions can be added simply to the home to follow budget modifications. With this new design and production method, construction times can be cut down to under a month. 
               
If it's new technology, it must be expensive? Myra Butterworth reported for the Daily Mail that “Average price per square meter has increased 251% in the past 20 years from £631 in 1996 to £2,216 in 2016”, a trend similar to other trends in Europe, including France. Actually, Logelis undercuts the lowest prices on the construction market. Not only are construction materials a savings area for clients of Logelis, but the reduction of construction time is also a safeguard against exploding budgets. A large 300-square-foot house can be acquired for just above 150 000 pounds (190 000 euros), and a smaller house can be acquired for a fraction of that price, and then extended later on. 
 
Then if the price is low, then the quality must be as well. Here again, not so. Fibred cement, which composes the outer layers of the wall is praised as one of the highest performing construction materials.  The polyurethane layer in the center has the multiple advantages of being affordable, entirely recyclable, and an excellent sound and heat insulator. Pipes and electrical wiring integrated within the walls use the same standard material one would find in any house.  But the fact that they are built in by machines eliminates the risk of improper installations which can turn out costly or dangerous. 
 
If it isn't expensive and it isn't low-quality, then this new technology must be complex and difficult to operate. Not at all: once the concrete surface of the desired area has been laid, post are erected around the perimeter of the house and the inner structure (where the walls will be). The walls are then simply delivered and slipped into place. CEO Renaud Sassi describes the assembly process We lay a panel, and then a post, and so on... everything is fixed to a wooden frame. In ten days, the house is airtight and watertight. It is surprisingly simple.”  Assembling the walls and connecting the wiring and plumbing are one single operation. By standardizing the pre-built walls and integrating them with the home networks, the French company hugely reduces the complexity of a home construction project. The company guarantees “a month and a half of construction time, for a price 15% inferior to the overall price of a traditional house, thanks to workforce expenses lower than the competition's, by 30 or 40%.”
 
So, where's the catch? Is it environmentally disastrous? Again, not at all, quite the opposite. Construction materials are wholly recyclable, and the insulating capacities are so strong that a house can be heated for less than 100 pounds per year. In fact, CEO Renaud Sassi decided to make his products compliant with not the current thermal regulation law applicable in his country, but with the next one, which isn't voted yet but should be in 2020. As a result, products are “ at the spearhead of thermal insulation and comply with the RT 2020 (future environmental law), by opting for self-supporting isothermal recyclable panels with a thermal coefficient superior to 7, so as to achieve exceptional insulation”. Logelis constructions are therefore at the highest environmental performance on the market, something the French are quite attached to.
 
The company is still quite young, but the French and international market has already started responding to it.  With this new way of building, many people in France and abroad who were previously barred from ownership could start hoping for a home of their own, without even having to settle for low-end quality. In France, the share of people owning their own home is between two and three fifths of the adult population (lower than in the rest of Europe), but virtually all aspire to it. Logelis could be the long-awaited game-changer for many of them.