Xella constantly pursues the goal of developing better and more environmentally compatible processes and materials. Sustainability has consequently been an established practice at our company for many years. “We are committed to environmental protection and support social and cultural projects,” is how our corporate philosophy puts it. But how do we practically implement our corporate responsibility in terms of specific action? And who is going to turn this into a sustainability strategy?
In 2011 Xella established a Sustainability Council. This comprises members of Xella International Holding’s management and the managers of the business units. The council is supplemented by the manager of the Research and Development Center and directors of the Human Resources and Corporate Communications departments. The Sustainability Council, which meets twice each year, determines the sustainability strategy, takes all decisions relating to sustainability that affect the strategic orientation of the company, resolves key issues, and monitors compliance with the guidelines. Furthermore, Xella Holding also has a Sustainability Team which comprises representatives from the respective divisions such as Environmental Management, Energy Management, Human Resources, Controlling, Communications etc.
Alongside the fundamental objectives, i.e. the manufacture of environmentally compatible and energy-efficient building materials in the most resource-conserving manner possible, both of these bodies also discuss and decide upon special measures, e.g. reducing CO2 emissions, introducing a new energy-saving policy, conserving water or establishing a system of key indicators. Proposals for subjects to be discussed by the Sustainability Council may come from either the workforce or the Sustainability Team – or even directly from the group’s management. Employee representative bodies are also of course able to influence Xella’s sustainability management program. The corresponding qualification and expertise of those responsible for sustainability issues is ensured through training and continuing education, professional experience and participation at corresponding conferences, forums and symposia.
Xella accepts responsibility for its products in line with the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) which has been effective since 1 July 2013. This replaced the Construction Products Directive (CPD) which had been in-force since 1989. The overall objectives are to bring construction products into circulation, ensure their free movement and remove technical barriers to trade in construction products within the European Economic Area. The harmonization of technical specifications is intended to deliver uniform product and testing standards – and therefore harmonized performance specifications for construction products. The CPR regulates the conditions for bringing construction products into circulation and for ensuring harmonized standards. It also defines the standards for declaring performance and the CE marking of products.
Introduction of the CPR also changes the significance of CE marking that must be applied to all construction products for which a manufacturer has produced a declaration of performance. In future, by applying the CE marking, manufacturers will be documenting that they are responsible for conformity of the construction product with the declared performance and that they are in compliance with all applicable European legislation.
Energy efficiency is of almost existential importance to Xella. For many years the responsible and economical use of energy has been the highest priority at our factories. In line with its energy policy, Xella has undertaken to reduce its specific energy consumption over the long term and to continuously improve energy efficiency. These goals are aligned with the European Energy Efficiency Directive which sets binding energy saving targets for EU Member States through to the year 2020.
These targets will be realized through the introduction and operation of, among others, an energy management system. In Germany, Fels has already implemented an energy management system that is certified to DIN ISO 50001 as part of its integrated management system (F.I.M.S.). This is currently being installed at the company’s German calcium silicate block and autoclaved aerated concrete plants. The Head of Energy Management of the Xella Group is responsible for the necessary processes and measures. He is dependent upon close cooperation with the energy experts at the Central Energy Management department, the factory managers and their staff. To achieve an efficient energy management program it is also necessary for the staff to undergo continuous training. Xella therefore offers regular training sessions that deal with energy efficiency issues. To-date, 250 employees have already participated.
Xella has brought together exceptional ideas, a progressive spirit and future-oriented building materials to create an innovative company that sets itself apart from its competitors through its high-quality and energy-efficient products. So that creative processes can lead to the desired results, Xella has implemented an innovation management system to ensure the required structure. The Innovation Board is responsible for this. The board comprises representatives from the management, the four business units, the manager of the Research and Development Center, the Head of International Product Management and the Head of Innovation Management. The Innovation Board makes decisions on the strategic orientation of innovation management, the key elements and all aspects of innovation promotion at the Xella Group. The Head of Innovation Management coordinates innovation management activities throughout the group and organizes the annual Innovation Award.
Furthermore, the individual brands also have local Innovation Teams (LIT) that drive the innovation process in the various regions and business units and deliver an overview of the regional innovation status on a quarterly basis. The Xella Holding Innovation Team comprises representatives from the group’s central operations division such as Marketing, Process Engineering, IT, Controlling and Technology and Research. This organizational structure ensures that good ideas do not “go under” and that the individual divisions of the company contribute their share to the innovation process.
Xella places great emphasis on allowing the ideas and improvement proposals of its employees to flow into the working organization and the production process. In future we will also proactively support the inventiveness and innovative potential of our employees in Germany and abroad. Xella has introduced a company suggestions policy at its locations in Germany. This provides all employees with an opportunity to contribute their ideas on cost savings, occupational health and safety or for protecting health and the environment. The ideas for improvement are rewarded appropriately.