Sustainable corporate culture – for decades and in the future
A corporate culture in which sustainability is implemented in a measurable way enhances the value of the company and minimises the risks to its further development. Geberit has a decades-long commitment to sustainability and is a leader in this area, setting standards for customers, employees, suppliers and other partners. As part of the integration of Sanitec, these high sustainability standards are also to be rolled out at the former Sanitec organisations. These standards cover water-saving and sustainably produced products; environmentally friendly and resource-saving production; procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards; and good, safe working conditions for the more than 12,000 employees worldwide. Geberit realises its corporate social responsibility through various commitments: social projects in developing regions around the world and partnerships like those with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas.
Various stakeholder groups regard a position as a sustainable company as increasingly important. Numerous awards prove that Geberit has been taking this remit seriously for many years. In the world's largest climate protection ranking awarded by the international organisation CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), for instance, Geberit has achieved the status of “Sector Leader Industrials” for its reporting, meaning that it is one of the 10 best companies in the sector in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Water management still an important subject
In September 2015, the United Nations defined the follow-up programme to the Millennium Development Goals from the year 2000: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define concrete targets and indicators for 17 different themes which the states are required to implement by 2030. The involvement of the business world plays a pivotal role in implementing these targets and indicators. Goal number 6 states that access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation must be available to all people around the world, under fair conditions. Improving resource efficiency when handling water plays an important role in this. The importance of the subject of water management for sustainable development is still undisputed. A growing world population, migration, urbanisation, climate change and natural disasters can lead to regions that are currently well supplied with water becoming problem regions in the future. These global trends will have a major impact on future sanitary technology: water-saving and resource-efficient products are becoming even more important. The EU is increasingly putting water conservation and sustainability on its political agenda and has, for example, developed ecolabels for efficient toilets, urinals, washbasin taps and showers. Industry is also working on water efficiency and voluntary labels. The WELL label (Water Efficiency Label) of the European umbrella organisation for valve manufacturers EUnited, which was introduced in 2011, takes its direction from the well-known energy labels for electrical household appliances and serves as an information and orientation aid. Of the nine Geberit product groups – corresponding to more than 500 sales products – that are already certified, eight are represented in the A class. These product groups account for 17% overall of Group net sales.
The analysis of the entire Geberit value chain in the form of a water footprint shows that nearly 100% of the water consumption is attributable to the product usage phase. The corresponding graphic takes account of all Geberit products before the integration of Sanitec. It is to be assumed that the new product portfolio will only cause a minor shift. Sparing use of the valuable resource water is and remains a focal point for Geberit.
Green building competencies are being expanded
Green building has become the standard in recent years, in the public and the private construction sector. European standards are thus prescribing the use of sustainable products and systems in buildings. At the same time, more and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards, such as DGNB, Minergie, BREEAM and LEED. Investors, project developers, owners and tenants are demanding system providers with holistic know-how regarding green building in order to satisfy the relevant standards. Geberit is addressing these issues with water and energy saving, low-noise and durable products, consistently positioning itself in the frontline with regard to green building.
In 2015, an internal working group was formed to discuss the entire product portfolio in great detail, at a number of workshops. The aim was to determine the relevance of the various sustainability issues, such as energy, comfort, climate, resources, origin, materialisation or Society, and gain comprehensive know-how regarding the requirements of the different labels. The next step will involve establishing an internal area of competence as well as raising awareness among, and training, the technical advisors. In the long term, product catalogues and online information will be supplemented with the relevant data on green building.
More and more green building reference projects involving Geberit products attest to the great importance of the subject. In Vilnius (LT), for example, the new “k29” office complex just a few walking minutes from the historic old town was inaugurated in 2015. For the architects, environmental friendliness was the key aspect of their design process, resulting in a completely glazed green building (BREEAM certified). Another example is the 1970s-built “Klenze 27” student residence in Regensburg (DE), which provides 240 apartments and, following its renovation and redesign, fulfils the requirements of the KfW-Effizienzhaus 70 environmental label. Comprehensive Geberit sustainability know-how is built in to both properties.
Sustainability strategy consistently rolled out
The consistent implementation of the sustainability strategy is an essential objective for the whole Geberit Group. Even in the wake of the integration of Sanitec, Geberit remains committed to this strategy. Therefore, the existing sustainability modules will gradually be rolled out to all newly added sites.
The strategy continues to focus on a total of 11 sustainability modules. Among these are green procurement, green logistics, environmental management in production, occupational safety and eco-design in product development as well as social engagement. Each module contains a clear objective, measures derived from that and quantified key figures for effective monitoring.
Since 2007, a sustainability performance review has been published annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The switch from the GRI G3 to the new GRI G4 guidelines was made in 2014. A process for determining the essential aspects of sustainability was the strategic starting point. These were identified and prioritised as part of an internal process. In 2012 and 2014 an external stakeholder panel was consulted for the purpose of reviewing the materiality analysis along with the sustainability strategy and related communication. The plan is to convene another stakeholder panel in 2016 in order to have both material aspects and the sustainability strategy assessed under the new circumstances.
All aspects of the GRI G4 guidelines can be found in the Sustainability Performance Report for 2015. The information disclosed within the scope of this report fulfils the “comprehensive” transparency grade set out in the GRI G4 guidelines, as has been verified by GRI.
Since 2008, Geberit has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a global agreement between businesses and the UN designed to make globalisation more socially responsible and environmentally friendly. A Communication on Progress regarding measures in the areas of human rights, labour practices, environmental protection and combating corruption is submitted annually. Geberit is also a member of the local network of the UN Global Compact. The anchoring of the subject of sustainability is reinforced by the Code of Conduct for Employees, which was overhauled in 2015, and the Code of Conduct for Suppliers. Compliance with the directives is ensured by continuously improved compliance processes. In addition, an extensive system for the control and management of all risks involved in entrepreneurial activities is in place throughout the Group. For more information, see Corporate Governance, 3. Board of Directors, Information and Control Instruments vis-à-vis the Group Executive Board.
The efforts in terms of sustainable business management are rewarded by the capital market. Geberit is strongly represented in the sustainability stock indices and sustainability funds segment. The share is represented, for example, on the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index (DJSI) and is a component of the STOXX Europe Sustainability Index as well as the FTSE EO 100 Index series. In addition, renowned sustainability funds hold the shares in their portfolios. Geberit’s objective is to continue to play a significant role in the future in the “Sustainability” and “Water” investment segments, which are still gaining in importance.
Eco-design as a standard in product development
As part of the Group's systematic innovation and development process, the eco-design approach has been consistently applied since 2007. This means that environmental aspects – from the selection of raw materials right through to disposal – are systematically examined during a product’s early development phase, with the requirement that every product outperforms its predecessor from an ecological perspective. The new Geberit urinal system is an example of this. It includes urinals with electronically controlled flushing systems but also with completely waterless operation. The central elements are the two rimless urinal ceramics Preda and Selva, which were developed by Geberit. Thanks to the low consumption of resources and the option of a control system supplied with electricity by an autonomous, network- and battery-independent energy source, the urinals satisfy the most stringent requirements for green building and economic operation.
Specially created product life cycle assessments are important decision-making aids for the development processes and provide arguments for the use of products that conserve resources. For example, detailed life cycle assessments have already been prepared for the following products: drainage/supply pipes, AquaClean Mera, electronic lavatory taps type 185/186, concealed cisterns, urinal flush controls and the new urinal system. The environmental product declarations (EPD) in accordance with the new European standard EN 15804 are becoming increasingly important and can also be used directly for green building standards such as LEED. For example, the EPD for the Geberit urinal system presents relevant, comparable and verified information about the product’s environmental performance in a transparent manner.