For over 350 years, our company has strived to make a positive contribution to humankind. We caught up with Thomas Eberle, our Head of Educational Partnerships and Strategic Projects Sustainability, to discover how our Sustainable Business Value (SBV) concept helps us to measure the value our products create for the society...
Thomas, can you explain how our Sustainable Business Value concept (SBV) works, and how it measures a product’s contribution to society?
The measurement and communication of a business’s financial results is standard practice. However, the contribution a company makes to the environment, communities, and good business practice – for customers and society – is more complicated to measure, thus not as common. So, to transform and present the results of our sustainability activities into figures, we’ve developed a system we call Sustainable Business Value (SBV). As all products have the potential to influence society (positively or negatively), the SBV system gauges the impact a product has throughout its entire lifespan or value chain. This results in a financial value, which corresponds to the product’s societal value.
SBV comprises seven dimensions. Which do you consider to be the most important and why?
The SBV system observes and measures a product along its entire value chain, including suppliers, distributors, and users. To do this we defined 7 criteria (or dimensions), which define a product’s monetary value and so its sustainability contribution. An analysis based on these criteria helps define a product’s strengths and weaknesses – allowing us to optimize it, or positively influence its progression. As a process, it’s vital to keep any negative impact on the environment to a minimum, while positively impacting customer value, business interests, societal concerns, digitalization, and ultimately, the company’s competitive edge.
Can you give us an example of how our SBV system has influenced an important company project or initiative?
Our SBV initiative supports the principle of strengthening ties between society and the economy. Put simply: If it’s good for society, it’s good for business – and vice versa! This means that businesses, projects, or technologies – which demonstrate positive SBV values – have the potential to positively influence societal development.
A good example of this is our eyrise® liquid-crystal based windows, which can reduce lighting and air conditioning costs. The liquid crystals block sun rays (and resulting heat) while allowing for ample daylight to filter through. And, by regulating room temperatures, the windows can increase employee wellbeing while also increasing productivity. As a result, employees work four days “faster” and have one less sick day annually, than if they would work in spaces with no liquid crystal windows. A win-win-win situation, benefitting people, their employers, and our company turnover.
Our Liquid Crystal Windows allow for plenty of daylight, while blocking harmful sunrays – helping reduce energy-hungry lighting resources.
By regulating room temperatures, the technology can improve wellbeing and increase workplace productivity. In the course of one year, this could help us work 4 days “faster” and have one less sick day.
Sustainability is a global issue. What contribution does our SBV concept make in supporting an international response?
Sustainability affects us all. Its importance has grown steadily since the passing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2016. Public discourse on the topic focusses mainly on important topics like climate change or plastic pollution. However, sustainability is more than environmentalism – something we’re highlighting with SBV. The topic comprises many themes, including aspects of social and economic sustainability – greater influencing businesses and life at work. This is why our SBV system has the opportunity to become a standardized, universally operational method for measuring sustainability. This standardization allows comparisons to be drawn between different products, business fields, and companies. SBV promotes healthy competition while creating incentives for businesses to communicate and capitalize on their sustainability efforts.
Would you say curiosity is important in successfully embracing – and embodying – the principles of our SBV concept?
The SBV system isn’t a single metric. It’s more of a collection of measures for driving change and progress. Its main goal is to positively influence the long-term impact our business has on society. Meeting climate neutrality goals will (for example) require new production concepts and operations. These changes will be driven by curiosity – the engine for progress. However, curiosity alone isn’t the answer. The process requires a combination of curiosity and a growing consideration for sustainability – a sustainable curiosity, if you will. What’s also vital, is a business culture that supports and promotes sustainability, while recognizing its commercial potential.
Have your SBV experiences influenced your life outside work, e.g. do you look at personal purchases/decisions differently?
New work experiences have definitely heightened my own personal sense of duty, when it comes to sustainability. It’s become very clear, that the only way to pass a healthy planet on to our grandchildren is to take necessary steps today – however drastic they may seem. For example, I strongly oppose all aspects of factory farming and no longer purchase or consume sausage products. I’m vigilant, when it comes to avoiding unnecessary packaging, and purchase seasonal and regional produce whenever possible – especially fruit and veg. And, if it is not for long distancing traveling, I’m re-discovering the world on my new eBike.
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