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Always on the lookout for potential

Nazife Yaman is Environmental Manager at the Bergheim plant. Her job is to implement the Vaillant Group’s sustainability targets. It is a complex task – but that is precisely what appeals to Nazife Yaman.

We reach our goals in the Environment field of focus with the help of Nazife Yaman. She is responsible for implementing the environmental targets from the SEEDS sustainability programme at the Bergheim plant. Every plant within the Vaillant Group uses an environmental programme as a basis to make a contribution that helps the company step by step on the way to achieving its sustainability targets, including cutting CO₂ emissions, reducing water consumption and waste and improving energy efficiency.

Among other things, the Vaillant Group is using the SEEDS 2030 strategy to pursue its target of halving its own CO₂ emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 2030. So there is still plenty to do for the Environmental Manager in Bergheim. “It is still going to take a lot of work and especially a lot of investment,” confirms Nazife Yaman. “The climate strategy is a challenge for us, but with the right investment we can achieve our targets.” This calls for forward-looking management above all else.

“If we have to replace a machine in the production hall, for example, we think very carefully about the options available to us that will improve sustainability,” explains Yaman. What kinds of machines can save resources? Where could hazardous substances be replaced by substances that are not detrimental to health? Can waste heat be used? Can a lighting system be switched to a more energy-efficient kind of light? These are just some of the questions that the environmental managers at the Vaillant Group’s plants ask.

Nazife Yaman helps to find the answers to these questions in her role as Production Engineer and Environmental Manager. She oversees the decisions and works closely with colleagues from the Bergheim plant and the central Sustainability Management department. She also liaises with the environmental managers at the other plants.

Yet colleagues at the site also have ideas and approach Nazife Yaman with suggestions, such as how welding fumes can be extracted by suction, for example. The industrial engineer explains: “The welding process produces fumes that are hazardous to health and must be extracted. The extractor used to run continuously, even when nothing was being welded. We have now installed valves on all welding machines, which are connected to the central extractor system. They are controlled by the welding unit so that the extractor is only switched on while welding is being carried out. This helps us to save a lot of energy,” says Nazife Yaman. It is an example that is totally to her liking. The idea and its execution even earned the Bergheim plant a SEEDS Award, which is presented by the Sustainability Management department for particularly effective sustainability measures across the various sites and plants. “People often approach me. They know that I am always open to their ideas and suggestions.”

An environmental manager needs good communication skills, openness to ideas, technical understanding and painstaking attention to detail when dealing with figures. For each quarter, Nazife Yaman prepares a report on the consumption of water, gas and electricity at the Bergheim plant for the Sustainability Management department at the company’s headquarters. The Sustainability Management team collects the figures from all of the plants and collates them. The resulting set of figures provides the basis for successful environmental management, which must precisely identify at an early stage whether there are any problems anywhere and work out where there is even greater potential to conserve resources and further cut emissions. “That is essentially what it is all about. We want to be a climate-neutral company.” And that is why Nazife Yaman always keeps her eyes open.

Good morning, Ms Yaman! Have you already been to the Bergheim plant today in your role as Environmental Manager?

Nazife Yaman: Yes. I am always in the plant. I have to cross half of the production hall just to get to my office. I always keep my ears and eyes open as I do so.

So your colleagues must always be on their guard whenever you’re around?

Nazife Yaman: (Laughs.) I don’t get the impression that they see me as some kind of threat. But of course I look at things carefully, especially in the course of our inspections. There is our biannual environmental inspection for a start, during which we examine all areas very closely: production, warehousing, maintenance and the outside grounds. Then there are the daily inspections of the production lines, the so-called VPS Shop Floor Walks, in which the plant’s entire management team is involved. Once a week, I use the Shop Floor Walk as a “mini interim inspection”. And then there are the so-called VPS Value Walks, where we are looking for inefficiencies in the production processes. I am also regularly involved in these.

What exactly does VPS stand for and what does it have to do with your environmental manager duties?

Nazife Yaman: “VPS” stands for our Vaillant Group Production System. VPS is about continuous improvement and eliminating waste. We are always wearing green-tinted glasses at the Vaillant Group and trying to work in a more resource-friendly way. To answer your question: VPS and environmental management are different areas of responsibility, but the aims overlap to some extent. Synergies are generated from the fact that I wear two hats – or better still – two pairs of green-tinted glasses.

What are your tasks as Environmental Manager?

Nazife Yaman: There are so many: I inspect the production areas for environmental hazards and devise concepts and measures as part of a team in order to comply with the prescribed environmental standards. I also make sure that all laws and regulations with environmental relevance are observed. I am involved in approval processes and am the contact person for employees and suppliers in all matters relating to environmental standards and their safeguarding. I produce management reviews that detail both taken and intended measures, and I draw up the environmental programme for the plant.

What is an environmental programme?

Nazife Yaman: In an environmental programme we set out the environmental targets we want to achieve in the forthcoming year for the entire plant. Everyone should play their part in achieving the targets. That is why I am always in close contact with my colleagues so that I can consider the potential for the environmental management programme and the SEEDS targets at an early stage. Investment is not needed for every measure. Sometimes it is sufficient to raise awareness among people – by getting them to switch off the computer monitor and the light during their break, for example.

And is there another environmental programme after a year?

Nazife Yaman: Yes. But that doesn’t mean we write an environmental programme for the filing cabinet. Every environmental programme helps us to achieve our targets we set for a year. As Environmental Manager, I am responsible for implementing the sustainability targets for the year 2030. That is why I regularly check the progress, just like all environmental managers. We have a standardised process within the Vaillant Group and we report the interim results quarterly to the Sustainability Management team, where all the threads come together.

How do you work together with the colleagues from the Sustainability Management department?

Nazife Yaman: I am in constant contact with the Sustainability Manager Jens Schulzeborgmühl and with Claudia Altenrath, Head of Sustainability Management. We hold regular telephone conferences, during which we discuss the projects. The Sustainability Management department and the environmental and occupational health and safety managers meet at least once a year at the HSE forum (HSE: health, safety and environment) – and sometimes we spontaneously pick up the phone. Discussing matters with colleagues always helps, even though the plants have different structures.

Binding targets for verifiable results

The focus field of Environment is part of the Vaillant Group sustainability programme: SEEDS establishes ambitious targets, which our family-owned company aims to meet by 2030. Since 2020, the Vaillant Group is climate neutral in its own operations (Scope 1 and 2). The company wants to halve its CO₂ emissions by 2030. Unavoidable emissions will be offset by afforestation projects. As such, the Vaillant Group will contribute to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which include a target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.