Presentation of the Special Prize for “Resource Efficiency” – An Appeal for Digitisation Strategies
The tenth annual German Sustainability Award, a two-day event held in Düsseldorf on December 7 and 8, 2017, was attended by a large number of participants who came from the fields of politics, the economy, and research. For the third consecutive year, the Institut Bauen und Welt e.V. (IBU) served as institutional partner to the German Sustainability Award (DNP) for the special prize in “Resource Efficiency”.
This special award recognises exemplary corporate commitment to both the management of raw materials and resources as well as to recycling, and presents new approaches for the efficient utilisation of resources. It rewards companies for the development of exceptional strategies and measures that either contribute to minimising the consumption of materials, energy, space, and water along the entire value creation chain or which are based on innovative recycling or life-cycle concepts. For the second time, the fischer corporate group, an IBU member, is also participating in the awarding of this year’s prize. Hans Peters, Chairman of the IBU Board, together with Jakob von Uexküll, founder of the Right Livelihood Award, also promoted as “Alternative Nobel Prize”, presented the prize to„Der Grüne Punkt“ DSD-Duales System Holding GmbH & Co. KG. Der Grüne Punkt’s technical innovations have made them leaders in the areas of energy efficiency and materials research. The company’s outstanding achievements in the plastics industry include the utilisation of recycled materials and the design of recyclable packing. Der Grüne Punkt’s commitment to these and other measures centred on the overall goal of sustainability – i.e., economy over the course of the entire life cycle – were convincing to the jury.
Rinn Beton is the sustainable company in 2018 – IBU Members Consider Sustainability a Corporate-Wide Responsibility
The IBU, a voluntary initiative of construction materials industry manufacturing companies and associations, has laid the groundwork when it comes to the topic of sustainability in the construction sector. “Through our partnership with the GSA we want to call attention to the importance of sustainable building and the opportunities it presents”, emphasised IBU Managing Director Dr Burkhart Lehmann. The IBU is particularly happy that the IBU member Rinn Beton- und Naturstein GmbH & Co. KG has been awarded as Germany’s most sustainable medium-sized company. With DAW SE, another IBU member was among the nominees at DNP 2017. “For these companies – as with many of our members – the issue of sustainability is viewed as a corporate-wide responsibility”, according to Lehmann. The commitment to sustainability influences not only the manufacturing process, but also the activities of the entire company. “A well-thought-out range of products combined with strategic corporate communication will slowly bring about a change in thinking in both suppliers and customers.” Burkhart Lehmann firmly believes that the demand for recycled products will continue to grow.
EPDs: Scientifically-founded Information for Sustainable Building
The DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen – German Association for Sustainable Construction) prize in the category of Sustainable Building was awarded to Gemeinschaftlich nachhaltig bauen – wagnisART. Because environmental product declarations (EPDs) are an internationally-recognised instrument for certifying building sustainability, the DGNB, as operator of a building certification system, relies on EPDS for evaluating the sustainability of buildings. The IBU, as the major German EPD programme operator, along with its members – companies and associations from twenty-two different countries – are promoting sustainability and transparency in the construction industry through the use of EPDs. The underlying reason, explains Burkhart Lehmann, is that “rather than merely evaluating the individual aspects of a product, EPDs, on the basis of life-cycle assessments, provide transparent, unbiased, and verifiable information on all relevant environmental effects”. They thereby provide scientifically-founded key environmental statistics. In a final, independent verification process that monitors for completeness, plausibility, and conformance to standards, and following publication of the EPD by the IBU, users can access this information for the planning of sustainable building projects or for evaluating buildings in terms of their sustainability.
Digitisation: the IBU’s IBU.data Facilitates Optimal Data Utilisation
To simplify planning processes and calculations, the IBU makes member EPDs available in digital format on the IBU.data platform. “By providing compatible data, we hope to make the jobs of those who rely on EPDs for calculating building life-cycle assessments as easy as possible”, explains Burkhart Lehmann, who views machine-readable data as the cornerstone to sustainable planning, building, and administration. Everyone involved in the process must have common access to all data – including life-cycle assessments. To attain this goal, IBU is participating in the development of European/international standards whereby uniform EPD data is available. Another important aspect is the ability to link digitised life-cycle assessment data to information on building products used in a Building Information Modelling (BIM) planning approach, which is used by a number of different stakeholders in a project.
The DNP provided an opportunity for experts and practitioners to come together in a panel discussion on the topic “Digitisation and Sustainability”. They debated such topics as perspectives for digitisation within the different industry branches and the consequences of digital structural transformation on sustainable economic development. Participants included research and data security experts along with representatives from the financial services sector, large and small retail enterprises, the logistics branch, and the construction industry. The IBU’s IT and process consultant, Oliver Kusche, discussed the potential digitisation holds for sustainability information, based on the example of the construction industry. He showed how digital EPD data facilitates both integral planning as well as calculations for the life-cycle assessments of buildings. “Even in the planning phase of a building, an ideal combination of building products can be selected according their ecological characteristics”, Kusche explained. He was delighted that the common data format for environmental information is making the building materials industry a pioneer in digital sustainability information. The dialogue forum made it clear that industry initiatives are the alpha and omega to move forward in digitization. The building materials industry is on the right track here.