HOCHTIEF and sustainability: “We need plenty of dedication”
We are concerned about the future of our planet—more than ever before. Sustainability has received an important status in industry, politics and society. Sustainability also plays an important role on HOCHTIEF’s construction sites. Today, with our services we already belong to the leading providers in “green” building. We would like to further consolidate this position. To achieve this, in future the following is particularly required: people who help to shape the necessary path.
“At the moment, I receive many applications, in which young people write to me that they dream of a sustainable society,” explains Christian Kemper. He is Green Building Manager at HOCHTIEF, certifies sustainable structures and is a person who is completely dedicated to the principle of sustainability.
“In 2009, sustainability was still understood as simply energy efficiency,” says Christian Kemper. For example, buildings were so intensely insulated that they subsequently looked like “knight’s castles.” However, it became apparent that these insulation systems contained toxic substances and were highly inflammable. This meant that the material ecology had been completely ignored.
What cannot be measured, also cannot be controlled
When Kemper today certifies a building according to the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) this involves the holistic evaluation of a project and the balancing of different qualities: ecology, economy, socioculturally functional, technical as well as process and location qualities. Here a basic principle applies: What cannot be measured, also cannot be controlled. “With regard to all our construction sites, we would like to know how high the electricity consumption is, how high the recycling rate is for waste management and much more,” notes Kemper. The quantification is important because such aspects have positive economic and ecological effects at the same time, which many people are not really aware of if they are not available as measured values.
New approaches, more complex processes
“Prompted by sustainability certificates, our society will once again move towards a recycling economy. At HOCHTIEF we are already heading in the right direction with own sustainability strategies, but we are still a long way from where we want to be,” states Kemper. Michael Kölzer, Head of Corporate Responsibility (CR) at HOCHTIEF, is intensely analyzing how the large sustainability focus areas—for instance climate change—can be designated to the company. “With regard to implementation, it is particularly important to involve people in the company. Everyone should understand and be able to follow what the big and often complex issues mean—from climate action right through to stakeholder and impact management. Here we speak for our industry, for our company and not least for our own field of operations. This is the only way to achieve sustainability in practice. Here, holistic approaches have to be developed and sustainability has to be made tangible.”
Holistic approaches have to be developed and sustainability has to be made tangible.
Michael Kölzer, Head of Corporate Responsibility (CR)
Green building means: hand in hand
And this is where Christian Kemper comes into play. The Green Building Manager already integrates certifications such as DGNB or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) at an early stage into the planning of a project—instead of dictating them from above. “I can’t just tell a subcontractor during the construction phase: We are building in accordance with DGNB Gold Standard. And only then the subcontractor realizes that it cannot use the planned material, and instead has to accept price increases,“ he explains. If sustainability is optimally implemented in a project, all aspects interact with each other at an early stage.
We are looking for people who are really dedicated
Consistent change management is now needed, so that future construction projects fully comply with requirements. “We change what we can today, and in the long term we proceed step by step,” explains the Green Building Manager with regard to the approach. At the same time it is a search for new ways of implementing the concepts of sustainability in additional and new economic models for HOCHTIEF.
I am eternally grateful to this new generation that it has raised this awareness.
Christian Kemper, Green Building Manager
Hence, the important step has been taken towards an altered consciousness for the necessary change. “I am eternally grateful to this current generation for this,” admits Kemper. “But we will still spend a long time completely implementing this change. I would be happy if I could achieve this in the next few years,” he estimates, and places hope in the up-and-coming generation: “Apart from basic technical understanding, this also requires dedication. On the basis of the applications, I can see that a great deal is happening here.“