"Durability and sustainability are at the heart of everything we do"

Nejeeb Khan, country head India and design head MEA, Katerra, explains some of the key values of the company

Nejeeb Khan, Katerra, Bangalore, Building materials, Environmental stewardship, Construction, Sustainability, Prestressed concrete, Precast concrete

What building materials are currently used by Katerra in India?

Katerra currently uses precast concrete in India. In the US, we use mass timber and CLT.

Sustainable building material is the need of this hour, how is Katerra meeting the need?

Katerra is committed to environmental stewardship. We understand construction has a high impact on the environment in its consumption of energy, both directly and through the materials it uses. Building materials have the potential to affect human health and our surrounding environment. The challenge, however, lies in balancing costs with sustainability to achieve real change.

At Katerra, we continue to spend considerably on R&D to improve product sustainability and strength. To achieve this, we focus on reducing water and energy usage across our construction process. We continually work with both suppliers and our clients to value engineer projects to deliver buildings that are green and more sustainable.

How these materials are different from traditional construction materials?

In India, Katerra predominantly uses precast concrete. Precast concrete is more durable than traditional cast-in-situ allowing structural designers to develop more material-efficient buildings that offer better strength and durability. Precast elements are smaller in size and use less material than products built onsite.

For eg: In a conventional situation, buildings need columns and beams at regular intervals for support and strength, resulting in the use of more material, wastage, and an increased carbon footprint.

At Katerra, we use prestressed concrete elements in construction projects allowing for large unsupported spans. Prestressed concrete floors can span 16m without intermediate supports. Prestressed hollow core planks, bring in resource-saving of over 50% less concrete and 75% less steel usage versus solid concrete floor slabs.

Precast elements are factory manufactured, allowing Katerra to reduce waste significantly. That includes waste from excessive concrete, formwork and bracing, packaging, and debris accumulating on cast-in-place sites. We also recycle all waste material resulting in less material being sent to landfills or dumped into the environment.

Factory manufacturing ensures less dust creation both in the factory and onsite, which is healthier for workers. At the Katerra factory, we have state-of-the-art ventilation systems to ensure minimal dust on factory floors. The ingredients we use in precast concrete are locally produced and significantly reduces vehicle movement, fuel consumption, and exhaust levels that present a risk to the public.

Katerra precast concrete also uses relatively low water in creating the concrete mix, and all elements are steam cured, providing 50% water savings. Also, most of the water used is treated and recycled.

Energy conservation is another critical advantage of using precast concrete in buildings. Precast concrete’s thermal mass absorbs and releases heat slowly. It also allows for thermal insulation to be combined in elements, equating to long-term energy savings.

Which sectors does Katerra focus with its advanced building materials?

Our clients in India are predominantly developers and investors of grade A Commercial Buildings and Office Parks, Tech-giants, and Multinational Corporations in Manufacturing and Retail. We also work with a niche group of real-estate developers in the residential sector who share our vision of sustainable, technology-driven construction. Some of our clients are Embassy, Infosys, Microsoft, Lulu Group, Runwal Group, Vaishnavi Builders, and Bosch.

Mention some of the global practices incorporated by Katerra in India for creating building materials?

Across the globe, Katerra uses Data-Driven Design, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA), Modular Construction, Offsite Manufacturing, Intelligent Buildings, and Construction Software and Advanced Material Management and Material Sciences to conserve and optimize materials across our construction projects.

In the US key focus is on mass-timber and CLT and bringing in improvement in strength, durability, and usage. Our philosophy in India is the same; however, the material used is precast concrete and prestressed steel.

Our global mission with material management is to reduce, reuse, and recycle and build more sustainable processes across our construction practice.

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