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S.E.E.D.S. bears fruit – in four focal areas

Despite the ambitious targets set out in our sustainability strategy, S.E.E.D.S. is already bearing fruit.

Ambitious targets and specific measures

We first sowed S.E.E.D.S. in our company in 2011: the Vaillant Group’s sustainability strategy defines ambitious targets and specific measures for the focal areas Development & Products, Environment, Employees and Society. The Vaillant Group’s international teams are very determined when it comes to implementing the strategy: our employees certainly have what it takes to achieve the Vaillant Group’s sustainability goals – ongoing reviews assess whether they are successful.

Our goals for the focal area Development & Products

What we offer our customers: products which are energy efficient and environmentally-friendly throughout their entire life cycle – from development to purchasing, production and use, all the way through to service and recycling.

Our goals for the focal area Environment

We aim to conserve resources and use them in a responsible manner, to reduce CO₂ emissions and also to actively protect and relieve the environment: the Vaillant Group has pledged to consistently pursue these goals.

Our goals for the focal area Employees

The S.E.E.D.S. sustainability strategy shapes the Vaillant Group’s corporate culture – we believe that our employees form the foundation and soul of our family-owned company. We aim to be an employer of choice, both for new applicants and existing employees.

Our goals for the focal area Society

The Vaillant Group is committed to its social responsibility. The company is dedicated to social advancement and improving the welfare of others – for instance through our strategic partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Worldwide and our recognition of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact in our supply chain.

Take a look at our management tool kit

A visionary sustainability strategy is only of value if its goals are shown to be implemented. But what does our future path look like? We have come up with a classic answer to this key question.

A classic instrument for a visionary sustainability strategy

Formulating a visionary sustainability strategy is one thing; realising the ambitious goals is a whole different matter.

Better said: in a global, multi-layered company such as the Vaillant Group, with its many different divisions, the ambitious S.E.E.D.S. targets give rise to a huge number of complex tasks, which have to be coordinated across departmental and national borders.

Classic image, classic device

The challenge we face is best illustrated using a classic image: a ship only reaches its destination on time if it maintains its course – and progresses at the optimal speed.

A classic image is best accompanied by a classic device, better yet, one which counts among the time-proven control methods used for management purposes. Control circle management refers to a permanent process of determining the current position, correcting the course if need be and reviewing this course on an annual basis, before the control circle starts anew.

S.E.E.D.S. on a completely practical level

For S.E.E.D.S., this means that the sustainability goals will first be translated into practical targets for all company divisions such as Purchasing, Production, Logistics, Sales, Service and Quality. Then comes the review stage. An assessment is carried out at the end of each quarter which looks at the impact of the measures implemented; corrective action is carried out if required.

Looking back to the future

Once a year has passed, the sustainability management team presents a full summary of the status quo as part of the review. Results are analysed and new measures are implemented – the new year commences and brings the Vaillant Group even closer to achieving its sustainability goals for 2020.

Sustainability starts with the first idea

Sustainability generated by the highest level of efficiency is demanded throughout the entire product life cycle and involves all of the divisions within our family-owned company: from Planning and Development to Purchasing, Sales, Production and Use right through to Service and Recycling, all our employees are dedicated to implementing S.E.E.D.S. Each and every colleague sees this as a matter of course – including Claudia Altenrath, Head of Sustainability Management Vaillant Group.

"Now the challenges are even greater.” An interview with Claudia Altenrath, Head of Sustainability Management

S.E.E.D.S. sounds interesting – what does the acronym stand for?

Claudia Altenrath: S.E.E.D.S. is the name of our sustainability strategy. The acronym stands for Sustainability in Environment, Employees, Development & Products and Society.

How are these fields significant?

Claudia Altenrath: These fields represent the four focal areas of the sustainability strategy. S.E.E.D.S. sets out binding, measurable sustainability goals which we aim to achieve by 2020. Besides this, S.E.E.D.S. defines specific measures for implementation and governs how the results are to be reviewed. We assess the situation on a yearly basis to check that we are on track. This approach is based on the classic control loop used in a management system. By doing this, we ensure transparency within the entire Group and are able to make any necessary corrections or supplement our strategy.

You’ve been Head of Sustainability Management since early 2016, a short time after Vaillant received the German Sustainability Award. Was this a tough act to follow?

Claudia Altenrath: Yes and no. Of course, winning the German Sustainability Award was a crowning event that saw Vaillant receive recognition for consistency and transparency with the S.E.E.D.S. programme. We couldn’t actually ask for more at this point in time. But I also think it’s important to note that we have managed to involve many company departments and also partners over the last years. It is a very broad issue, and this is exactly what fascinates me.

Apart from the awards, what have been the greatest success stories of S.E.E.D.S. in your opinion?

Claudia Altenrath: In terms of products and developments, I would have to say the Green iQ products from Vaillant, of course. Our day-care centre in Remscheid also stands out. The partnership between the Vaillant brand and SOS Children’s Villages is a highlight – helping an organisation that supports children and families through our core business is simply a perfect fit. Last but not least, our environmental management plan has been very successful. For example, it has led to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions as well as energy and water consumption.

What next steps have been planned?

Claudia Altenrath: We will adjust our goals for 2020, raising the bar. We’re working on the details right now. Of course, we’ve already taken all the major steps. Now the challenges we face are even greater.

Thank you for talking to us, Ms Altenrath!

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