For GOLDBECK SOLAR, climate protection is not only about solar plants. For a year now, as patron for sustainability, you have been implementing many ideas together with the employees to make us more sustainable. What are these, for example?
There is now a huge range. We separate waste, have switched our paper to recycled paper, only use black-and-white printing, and have also reduced the amount of printouts by over 90 percent. We use only organic milk and coffee in the office, offer alternatives to cow’s milk. The company vehicle fleet is becoming greener; the proportion of electric and hybrid vehicles is growing all the time. We also offer our employees via JobRad access to alternatives to the car. We collect discarded cell phones and electrical equipment and donate any proceeds generated to NABU. The travel policy for business trips aims to avoid travel (especially air travel) wherever possible. This year it is planned to introduce at least one environment day at GOLDBECK SOLAR, where employees can actively participate in projects. This is only a small part of the manifold internal measures. But there is much more that we want to implement. Not everything works right away.
Which are the challenges?
For example, if we want to switch our sanitary paper to recycled paper, we have to coordinate this with our landlord. This also applies to replacing the cleaning agents used by the cleaning staff with biodegradable agents, or switching the lighting to LEDs. We have already been able to initiate some things (e.g. that our electricity supplier supplies “green” electricity, and our IT service provider also works with green electricity), others are still in progress.
What external projects is GOLDBECK SOLAR pursuing?
For example, I am currently determining the carbon footprint of our supply chain. Of course, we also purchase products from China for the construction of our solar parks. In our contracts, it is stipulated that the manufacturers must provide corresponding evidence regarding their supply chains, social standards, the carbon footprint of their materials and their plans to reduce this. We try – wherever possible – to switch to products that are produced in Europe. Further, we look for alternatives to shipping from Asia, and prefer to work with carriers that either operate locally or “green” their truck fleets. We provide guidance to our suppliers on how packaging can be minimized. In addition, we try to implement conservation measures at the ground-mounted facilities we implement. For example, we make sure that fences don’t go all the way to the ground so hedgehogs and other small animals can move freely. We can create habitats for lizards when appropriate and set up nesting boxes for birds. We have the support of RifCon, who develop concepts for us to do this. And we are a member of Leaders of Climate Action and offset our footprint every year through Climate Partners..
Environmental education is also playing an increasingly important role …
Exactly. We have employees who go to schools and talk about photovoltaics and renewable energies. Schools are welcome to request such talks from us.
“Our colleagues contribute a lot of ideas”
Why is it so important for companies like GOLDBECK SOLAR to get involved beyond days like Earth Day?
We are in the renewable energy business, so the topic is naturally natural for us. It is simply the task of everyone – every company but also everyone privately – to do something. We can’t wait any longer, because climate change, environmental destruction and the decline in biodiversity are already far too advanced. It is encouraging that society is beginning to recognize this, and that the younger generation in particular is demanding action. We have a responsibility here as individuals, but also as companies! Actions like Earth Day point this out, but we have to act every day of the year.
What is the feedback from customers, suppliers and partners?
We’re preaching to the choir. The topic is well known and very important to many. The problem is that there are few to no standards against which sustainability can be measured in concrete terms. In Europe, of course, there are requirements such as the RoHS or WEEE directives, or ISO14001 for manufacturing companies – but none of that goes far enough. For example, our cable supplier can tell us exactly where they buy their copper, guaranteeing that their sources of supply are free of child labor or forced labor. This is where we as buyers – but also legislators and our customers – need to recognize that we cannot always meet our sustainability requirements via the “cheapest” product. “Green” raw materials, CO2-optimized logistics and socially fair labor have their price. This must be taken into account when evaluating offers and, if necessary, even given legal preference.
And das collegues?
Our team is very international and relatively young; the average age is just over 30. They put their heart and soul into many great ideas and support all our projects. I think many would like us to do even more. We now also have a sustainability page internally, through which I share topics and information. That goes down well.