Heimo Scheuch, Chief Executive Officer of Wienerberger AG, on the strategic importance of sustainability for Wienerberger and on the Sustainability Update 2011.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
This intentionally short update to last year’s sustainability report is designed to provide you with information on the latest sustainability developments at Wienerberger. And that brings me right to the point: the first development involves our reporting on this very important subject. Since our sustainability principles generally remain constant – “Sustainability still is what it used to be“ – we have decided to only publish a full sustainability report every two years. In the interim periods, you will receive an update that presents the latest facts and figures as well as our progress in specific areas.
Sustainability represents an integral part of Wienerberger’s corporate culture and a focus of actions throughout the entire value creation process. In recent years our approach to sustainability management has been professionalized step by step and has become more firmly anchored in the organizational structure. We set a further milestone in 2011 with the definition of clear responsibilities for sustainability within the organization. In addition to a Group sustainability officer, each of our country organizations and subsidiaries has designated a person who is responsible for sustainability and the implementation of the respective Group guidelines and programs. I also see this focus as the starting point for the successful implementation of many of the measures announced last year, and would like to report to you on some of the highlights.
I am especially pleased with progress on the realization of the first e4 BRICKHOUSE, which is currently under construction by a family of four in Austria. This project is based on a particularly sustainable building concept, which was developed by Wienerberger together with heating and building technology partners. The e4 BRICKHOUSE produces more energy than it uses over a 12-month period and also has a positive CO2 and energy balance. Experts have estimated that the house can save 33,600 kg of CO2 by 2020 compared with standard houses. In order to verify this claim, the AIT (Austrian Institute of Technology), an independent external institute, will monitor and report on the energy balance of the e4 BRICKHOUSE over the next two years. However, this house is not only energy-efficient. Bricks can “breathe”, which means they also create a pleasant and healthy indoor climate. With this project, we have made the house of the future possible today.
In order to lower the environmental impact in production, Wienerberger launched an Environmental Action Plan in 2010 with ambitious goals to reduce energy consumption and emissions by 2020 and also developed a package of measures to support their realization. The first steps involved the implementation of ten measures at nine plants to make the production process more energy-efficient. In 2011 we not only cut specific energy consumption and specific CO2 emissions at these plants by a further 5%, but also increased the share of renewable electrical energy used by the Group from 25% to 43% through the targeted selection of suppliers.
Our health and safety initiative, which was introduced in 2010, led to substantial progress in occupational safety during 2011. In order to increase the awareness of our employees for accident prevention, we have implemented numerous measures that include training and the formulation of goals for occupational safety at the plant level. The significant drop in the frequency of accidents – based on the number of accidents per million hours worked – from 20 to 16 in the past year shows that we are on the right track. However, we also know that there is still a lot of work to do. We have set a target for the Wienerberger Group, which calls for a reduction to less than 10 accidents per million hours worked by 2015, and I am very optimistic that we can reach this goal.
Wienerberger has developed from an expansion-driven to a market-oriented company in recent years. This strategic repositioning also means a clear focus on organic growth through our innovative, premium products and system solutions for energy-efficient ‑ and therefore also very sustainable ‑ construction. Our goal is to increase the share of revenues generated by innovative, premium products from the current level of 23% to 40% by 2015.
In 2011 we continued to implement our sustainability strategy throughout the Wienerberger Group, primarily with the above-mentioned organizational measures. We are also working to increase the efficiency of sustainability management and to improve the transparency of reporting in this area by refining and expanding our key performance indicator system. Our next report will also include information on these topics. We are convinced that long-term value can only be created when corporate development is based on sustainability, and our strategic repositioning represents an important step in this direction. I invite you to accompany us on this journey and to play an active role in communications as part of the stakeholder processes with our company.