Sustainability – a guiding element of corporate culture
For decades, sustainability has been an integral part of Geberit’s corporate culture. A firmly established sustainability strategy ensures that key objectives are measurable, making a valuable contribution to the corporate culture in the process. As part of the integration of Sanitec, the Group’s high sustainability standards were rolled out to apply to the new units. The focus of sustainable business management is on water-saving and durable products, resource-saving and environmentally friendly production, procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards, and on good, safe working conditions for all employees worldwide. Geberit exercises its social responsibility just as consistently, through the continuance of its own social projects as well as its partnership with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas. Furthermore, numerous awards are proof of the company’s distinctly sustainable approach.
Water management is a global challenge
Approved by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals comprise 17 specific targets and indicators which countries are required to implement by 2030. The business world plays a pivotal role in implementing these targets and indicators. Goal number 6, which calls for equitable access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for all people worldwide, is of particular importance to Geberit. Intelligent, sustainable water management is crucial to achieving this goal. A growing world population, migration, urbanisation, climate change and natural disasters mean that even regions that are currently well supplied with water are not immune to their situation deteriorating. Sanitary technology must take these global developments into account, with water-saving, resource-efficient products set to become increasingly important in future.
Ecolabels for environmentally friendly sanitary products are now standard within the EU. The industry also has its own voluntary labels that relate to the water efficiency of products. For example, the WELL label (Water Efficiency Label) of the European umbrella organisation for valve manufacturers EUnited, which was introduced in 2011, serves as an information and orientation aid. Of a total of eleven Geberit product groups that have already been certified – corresponding to just under 700 sales products – ten are represented in the highest class, accounting overall for 18% of Group sales.
A Geberit value chain analysis in the form of a water footprint shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to the product usage phase. Sparing, careful use of water as a valuable resource is one of Geberit’s core areas of focus.
Water footprint throughout the value chain in 2016*
Provision of raw materials
0.2% of the total amount of water is required in the manufacture of raw materials for Geberit products.
A mere 0.03% of the water is used in the manufacture of products at Geberit in 2016.
The greatest water consumption by far occurs during the use of Geberit products manufactured in 2016 during their entire service ife (cisterns, urinal flushing systems and lavatory taps).
0.01% of the total amount of water is used for disposal of Geberit products.
Well equipped for green building
Green building is becoming ever more important in both the public and private construction sector, with European standards that define the use of sustainable products and systems in buildings gaining in significance. More and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards such as LEED, DGNB, Minergie or BREEAM. Consequently, there is demand among investors, project developers, owners and tenants for system providers with comprehensive know-how in green building which will enable the relevant standards to be met. Geberit is addressing this demand with water and energy-saving, low-noise and durable products, thereby positioning itself in the front line with regard to green building, as numerous green building reference projects prove. For example, the reporting year saw the inauguration of the Port House – a BREEAM-certified building designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, located in the heart of the docklands of the Belgian city of Antwerp. Oasia Downtown in Singapore is a 27-storey high rise that meets the Green Mark Certified standard, and a perfect example of the concept of the “mini-city” – a new approach to addressing the problem of high-density living. Another example to underscore the importance of green building is the “NEST” modular research and innovation house that has been opened in Switzerland. Equipped with various Geberit products, the building offers innovative companies a unique opportunity to test new technologies, materials and systems in real-life conditions.
Sustainability means long-term value added
Geberit is committed to a binding sustainability strategy that is closely linked to the company’s core areas of focus and also applies to the company’s newly added sites.
A total of eleven sustainability modules continue to form the basis of this strategy. Among these are green procurement, green logistics, environmental management in production, occupational safety, eco-design in product development or social responsibility.
Since 2007, a sustainability performance review of the Geberit Group has been prepared annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). An internal process to define the essential aspects of sustainability at Geberit was the key starting point for introducing the current GRI G4 guidelines. In 2016, for the third time an external stakeholder panel was convened for the purpose of reviewing the materiality analysis along with the sustainability strategy and related communication. Reporting on the 2016 financial year already takes key input from the stakeholder panel into account.
All aspects of the GRI G4 guidelines can be found in the Sustainability Performance Report for 2016. The information disclosed within the scope of this report fulfils the “comprehensive” transparency grade set out in the GRI G4 guidelines, as 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 Code of Conduct and the Code of Conduct for Suppliers further incorporate the topic of sustainability. Continuously improved compliance processes ensure compliance with directives. In addition, a 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, 3.7 Information and Control Instruments vis-à-vis the Group Executive Board.
The activities 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. For example, the share is a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index (DJSI Europe), the STOXX Europe Sustainability Index and the FTSE EO 100 Index series. Renowned sustainability funds also hold the shares in their portfolios. Geberit wants to continue to play a pivotal role in the “Sustainability” and “Water” investment segments, which are still gaining in importance.
Technology, innovation – and sustainability
At Geberit, technology and innovation go hand in hand with sustainability. This is why the eco-design approach has been consistently applied since 2007 as part of the Group’s innovation and development process. All environmental aspects are examined, from the selection of raw materials right through to disposal. Every new product must be better than its predecessor from an ecological perspective. The new electronic tap system, which may be equipped with a self-sustaining power supply, is an example of this.
Product life cycle assessments are important decision-making tools for the development processes, providing arguments for the use of resource-efficient products. Geberit has produced detailed life cycle assessments for various important products. The environmental product declarations (EPDs) in accordance with the European standard EN 15804 are also becoming increasingly important and can also be used directly for green building standards such as LEED. EPDs present relevant, comparable and verified information about products’ environmental performance in a transparent manner. In 2016, an EPD was drawn up for the Piave washbasin tap.