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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 its first 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 Brigitte Kruse, Head of Sustainability Management Vaillant Group.

Do you know what the Global Compact is?

Materiality matrix, product life cycle, focal areas, Global Compact: these terms will mean nothing to most people. However, they represent key concepts for the Vaillant Group. Brigitte Kruse explains their significance.

“It is very much a learning process.” An interview with Brigitte Kruse, Head of Sustainability Management

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

Brigitte Kruse: 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?

Brigitte Kruse: 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. It is very much a learning process.

How did the sustainability strategy come about in the first place?

Brigitte Kruse: Actually rather casually – which means that it was not adopted as a ready-made solution, but was developed by us, for us. After speaking to a number of colleagues we were able to determine what sustainability means for the Vaillant Group and its customers and where there was a need for action. In order to corroborate our strategy, we then conducted a systematic survey among our stakeholders. The resulting materiality matrix lists and prioritises the most important sustainability topics.

You mentioned the sustainability goals for 2020. Where is the Vaillant Group positioned at present?

Brigitte Kruse: We’re well on our way to achieving many of our targets. We have already reached our goal of reducing water use across the Group by 20 per cent by 2020. We will now adjust this goal accordingly. We have also fulfilled the proviso of obtaining 100 per cent of our standard purchasing volume from suppliers who, on our initiative, are committed to the UN Global Compact. Yet anyone who celebrates success also has to be self-critical in other areas. As things stand, for instance, despite our aim to reduce our waste volume by 20 per cent, the figures have not changed. This led us to conduct an analysis across all our sites last year to identify areas of potential.

How do the products manufactured by the Vaillant Group make a difference?

Brigitte Kruse: As a leader of technology and innovation in our industry, we have to measure our company against the future viability of our products. The focus on green products is therefore a decisive part of our sustainability strategy. Our customers have high expectations when it comes to the efficiency and environmental friendliness of modern heating technology – and rightly so! These expectations also specifically apply to the conditions under which such technology is developed. The key term here is product life cycle. We demand that our products are green from start to finish: when drafting the very first idea, acquiring raw materials, and during the manufacturing and recycling stages. Across the entire cycle, right down to the last detail.

Thank you for talking to us, Ms Kruse!

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