Sustainability at Implenia

Implenia is Switzerland's leading construction and construction services company. It also has strong positions in the German, French, Austrian, Swedish and Norwegian infrastructure markets, as well as significant building construction and civil engineering operations in Germany and Austria. In everything it does, Implenia focuses not just on economic success, but also on its responsibilities to society and the environment.

Editorial

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Global climate protests are an expression of the fact that many younger people expect politics and business to enable them to have a future worth living. Construction companies like Implenia carry a great social responsibility in this regard. 

We accept this and try to act accordingly. In recent years Implenia has done much to improve the sustainability of its activities. Our Sustainability Report shows how we are living up to our responsibilities, and I am proud of what we have achieved. Given the huge challenges we face, however, we have to ask ourselves: are we doing enough? 

Sustainability principles could inform our thoughts and actions even more strongly. We need to go further along our chosen path – as a group, as a team and as individual employees. Striving for sustainability is not a “nice-to-have”; it is the key to our future. 

Our employees – whether in the Norwegian fjords, the Black Forest or the Rhone Valley – need to share a common understanding of sustainability. They need to understand how we approach sustainability and exactly what it takes to ensure that our company plays its role in creating a healthy future for coming generations. 

Implenia has defined sustainability as one of its corporate values. The foundations have been laid; the job now is to strengthen our sustainability structure at every level. I am personally committed to this. We will only succeed, however, if all those involved – investors, shareholders, customers, employees and business partners – pull together. 

I invite everyone, inside and outside our company, to work with us even harder on sustainability and to find common solutions for the future.

Thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together. 

André Wyss
CEO

Implenia at a glance

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Implenia is an international construction and construction services company with head office in Dietlikon, near Zurich. It can look back on around 150 years of construction tradition. The company’s experience, size and financial strength allow it to strive for sustainability in its home markets of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden and France, as well as in Romania and Poland. The Group’s expertise extends from consultancy and all areas of planning to the construction of buildings and infrastructure projects, enabling it to come up with comprehensive end-to-end solutions. Implenia reported revenue of 4.4 billion Swiss francs in 2018. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. The financial figures can be found in the company’s annual report.

Our services at a glance*

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Implenia focuses on areas of business where it can stand out from the competition. We are expanding activities in our home markets so we can take better advantage of local knowledge and customer contacts. We are also expanding geographically into other markets with whichever of our capabilities are internationally competitive. Our portfolio consists of four business areas, each distinct in terms of their underlying business models and long-term priorities:

  • Development handles our integrated property development projects. We already have a leading position in Switzerland in this business, and want to maintain this. We are putting more money into investment properties and are establishing innovative financing models. We are also evaluating market opportunities outside Switzerland.
  • Building Construction focuses on the integrated conception and construction of complex new buildings, as well as the modernisation of existing properties. Implenia is one of the leading companies in several of its home markets, especially Switzerland. We position ourselves as an integrated construction services provider across the entire value chain, and we are building up our customer-facing capabilities in consulting and planning. We also continue to grow as a general and total contractor, especially in our home markets. We may also consider targeted consolidating acquisitions.
  • Civil Works includes the regional businesses (e.g. road and railway construction), foundation engineering and tunnel construction. In all of these areas, Implenia has a leading position in Switzerland and a recognised presence in its other home markets. We want to work with partners in foundation engineering and tunnelling in order bring our internationally competitive capabilities to new markets, just as we have done recently in France. We are expanding our engineering capabilities across the value chain. In regional business we are focusing on our home markets and on optimising our competitiveness there.
  • Specialities includes our innovative niche offerings, such as wood construction, pre-tensioning technology and facade construction. We are continuously building up our capabilities in order to take advantage of the fundamental changes occurring in the construction industry, and we maintain a focus on innovation at all times. We scale up successful services, but withdraw from activities that do not offer long-term potential for market leadership.

Vision and values

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Our mission is to work with and for people to develop sustainable real estate, and to construct buildings and infrastructure that meet their modern living, working and mobility needs.

Our five core values are:

  • Excellence: We meet the highest standards with our projects, services and internal processes.
  • Collaboration: We bring together our multifaceted market expertise and technical capabilities for the benefit of our clients and other stakeholders.
  • Agility: We recognise opportunities and risks early on and tackle these quickly, both strategically and operationally.
  • Integrity: We meet a high ethical standard, are honest and always do what we have agreed to do.
  • Sustainability: We achieve results that endure and we protect our fellow humans and the environment

Company structure

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Implenia consists of operational and corporate units. The nine operational units concentrate on their respective core competencies and geographical markets, but also work closely together on company-wide projects. The operational units form the following four business segments:

  • Development: From initial idea through to finished building project – Implenia is Switzerland’s leading real estate developer.
  • Switzerland: Generalist for Swiss construction – from new buildings and modernisation, to road construction and civil works.
  • Infrastructure: Large and complex tunnelling and foundation engineering projects in the home markets and beyond.
  • International: Regional civil works in Germany, Austria, Romania, Norway and Sweden, with building construction capabilities in German-speaking countries.

The operational units are supported by the corporate units: Human Resources, Technical Center and IT, as well as the Corporate Center, which provides central services including Corporate Controlling, Corporate Reporting & Tax, Business Development, Treasury & Investor Relations, Legal, Marketing/Communications, Insurance and Procurement.

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The most senior management bodies of the Group are the Board of Directors (Board), which appoints and monitors the operational executives, and the Implenia Executive Committee (IEC), which is made up of the CEO, CFO, General Coundel, Head Country Management and of the Heads of the four Divisions. The Board of Directors has six members and is responsible for the Group’s strategic and financial leadership. None of the members of the Board of Directors performs an operational management role for Implenia or any of its group companies.

Proven sustainability organisation

Since the start of 2019, Implenia has consolidated and continued to develop its Group-wide technical capabilities within the Project Excellence & Services Competence Centre. This focuses on Process Optimisation, Sustainability and Environmental Protection, Health and Safety, Building Information Modelling (BIM), Quality, Value Assurance, and Equipment and Technology Services. 

The Project Excellence & Services Competence Centre includes the Sustainability Department, which has teams in the German-speaking and French-speaking parts of Switzerland. The experts there deal with sustainability management and reporting, help with sustainability measures within construction projects and promote Group-level initiatives. As the following table shows, the Sustainability Department provides both project-specific (sustainable construction) and internal (sustainable Implenia) services.

Sustainability Department services

Sustainable constructionSustainable Implenia
  • Project-specific expertise
  • Group-wide services
  • Advice and support on national and international sustainability labels, from development and project acquisition to completion
  • Definition and implementation of the company’s sustainability strategy
  • Embedding internal sustainability and environmental protection goals in construction projects
  • Internal and external communication; reporting of sustainability indicators
 
  • Implementation of Group-wide sustainability initiatives, including CO2 reduction measures

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The Sustainability Department is supported and monitored by the Sustainability Committee, which consists of the CEO, the Head of Project Excellence & Services, a representative of the Buildings Division, the Chief Communications Officer, and the Heads of Sustainability in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland. The Sustainability Committee meets four times a year to discuss the latest issues, to define sustainability goals and to take strategic decisions about the Group’s social commitments, ethical guidelines, working conditions and environmental protection measures. Sustainability reporting is also reviewed by the Sustainability Committee. Important sustainability issues are discussed at meetings of the Group Executive Board. As part of the Group-wide reorganisation, the sustainability organisation is also being adjusted in 2019.

Integrated sustainability management

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Sustainable development is a holistic concept. It has to be put into practice across all parts of the business. Sustainable development is a Group-wide responsibility that touches on all activities and that requires the commitment of all employees at every level of the company. This is why Implenia follows an integrated form of sustainability management.

The Sustainability Department’s task is to take up significant issues, analyse them and propose measures and targets. Defined measures are implemented in collaboration with the relevant operational divisions and global functions.

Responsibility for implementation normally rests directly with operational line managers or with the Global Functions, rather than with the Sustainability Department itself. Each division has at least one person responsible for safety, quality and sustainability. They play an important role in bringing sustainability issues into the operational side of the business. Implenia thus ensures that all business units engage intensively with sustainability issues and work to achieve the defined goals.

At the start of every year the Project Excellence & Services Competence Centre prepares the main annual targets in collaboration with the divisions and global functions. During the year, management meets with the people responsible for the targets at “Touchpoint” meetings, each of which is also attended by the Group Head of Sustainability. At the first Touchpoint, the annual goals are discussed, amended where necessary and signed off. At subsequent Touchpoints, implementation progress is discussed and next steps are defined. This process allows the responsible people to check regularly whether the measures are doing what they are supposed to do, and to coordinate between individual business units.

Sustainability strategy

Sustainability has been an integral part of corporate strategy since 2009. The following timeline shows the key milestones of recent years.

Impact of our business activities

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Around 80,000 people work in the Swiss construction sector, and each year they generate around 33 billion francs in added value, which is equivalent to around 5 percent of GDP. In doing so they process a total of 63 million tonnes of material*. Of this, 88 per cent (56 million tonnes) is accounted for by building materials, and the remaining 12 percent by energy (equivalent to 7 million tonnes of oil).

The construction sector’s annual environmental impact comes to a total of 57 trillion environmental impact points**, of which energy consumption is the main cause (56 per cent).

These figures give an idea of the construction sector’s significance for the economy, society and environment. Implenia’s activities also have significant effects on all three spheres of sustainability. The company takes responsibility for the impact it has and has made a long-term commitment to the welfare of current and future generations.

Implenia’s opportunities to influence environmental impact vary depending on where its products and services sit within the value chain. At the planning stage of a project, for example, fundamental decisions can still be taken about using “greener” materials and reducing operational energy consumption; but if Implenia only comes in at the construction stage, the main focus will be on environmentally friendly working practices (see also next chapter).

Implenia also uses its leading position in the Swiss construction sector to gain broader acceptance for a sustainable approach – by carrying out pilot projects, for example, by collaborating on standards and by compelling business partners to comply with its Code of Conduct.

Implenia assigns top priority to curbing climate change. It wants to help mitigate it and tries to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. The company does this in its own projects by using innovative techniques that use less grey energy, and by minimising direct consumption of fossil fuels at building sites, depots and production facilities.

* MatCH-study of des BAFU, 2017
** Swiss key figure for the calculation of life cycle assessments (see explanation under Bundesamt für Umwelt)

Different ways of exerting an influence

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With buildings that it develops itself from beginning to end, Implenia can design and plan sustainably right from the start. It can take account of a wide variety of criteria and use the internally developed GeNaB® assessment tool (GeNaB® is the German acronym for “total evaluation of sustainable construction”.

In most cases, however, Implenia works on private and public sector projects as general or total contractor (GC/TC), meaning that it has to follow plans made prior to its involvement. For this type of project, the environmental impact of the building in its operational phase – things like its energy intensity – will already have been largely determined by the client. Implenia can only have an indirect influence in such cases, for example by offering more socially and environmentally friendly options and materials. Ultimately, the decision will rest with the client.

However, Implenia still has a significant opportunity to influence the social, environmental and economic impact of a construction project when it plans exactly how it will carry out the work. The company can make most of the decisions about what machinery to use, how to dispose of waste and what working conditions should apply on site. However, the emissions produced during construction itself are relatively low compared to the total emissions of a building across its entire life cycle.

As a major buyer of construction materials such as concrete, steel, gypsum, natural stone and glass, Implenia is highly dependent on the availability of these resources. This also means that Implenia can make a real difference through its purchasing decisions. It can favour local materials, or only those that have a low grey energy profile. Such practices are only possible, however, with the support of customers and only if the supply chain is transparent. Unfortunately, however, too little information is available for many materials (see Supplier Management chapter).

Risks and opportunities created by climate change

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As a construction and construction services company with a broad portfolio, Implenia is affected by climate change in a variety of ways. As shown in the table below, climate change brings economic opportunities as well as risks. Changes in the climate could, for example, prompt a response from customers that increases the number and size of orders for renovation and modernisation. Preventive measures against climate change – like better insulated buildings or renewable energy plants – offer Implenia opportunities to apply its expertise in these areas. At the same time, however, increasingly extreme weather could pose real problems for companies and make it more difficult for them to make plans.

It is almost impossible from the current standpoint to predict what the ultimate effect of climate change will be on businesses. What is certain, however, is that Implenia needs to prepare for the expected change and be ready for future developments.

OpportunitiesRisks
  • Sustainable solutions as a distinguishing feature in private and public tendering processes
  • Supply problems
  • More stringent requirements for energy efficiency in the building stock require specialist know-how
  • Volatile raw material prices
  • Greater demand for infrastructure buildings for renewable energies (e.g. pumped storage power plants)
  • Extreme weather events have a negative impact on employees and construction processes.
  • Demand for high-quality, robust infrastructure (roads, tunnels, bridges, buildings) that can survive natural disasters
  • Increasing planning risks
  • Greater demand for building renovation due to extreme weather fluctuations
  • More complex construction methods owing to more complex requirements (e.g. building technology, building envelopes)
 
  • Increasingly strict building regulations (e.g. with regard to soil sealing)

Materiality defined together

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Implenia’s sustainability strategy is based on five material topics priorities. The company first formulated these in an internal process in 2010 and has applied them consistently ever since (see chart). These material topics cover the economic, ecological and social dimensions of sustainability and shape the whole Group’s sustainability commitment. In order to cover all the relevant topics properly, Implenia has changed its “Financial Excellence” sustainability topic to “Financial and Operational Excellence”. As well as financial issues, this newly defined priority now also covers matters relating to digitalization, Group-wide processes and projects, and customer satisfaction.

Implenia’s material topics

At Implenia, the three dimensions of sustainability are covered by five thematic priorities, which also form the backbone of the company’s sustainability report.

Animation: Implenia’s material topics, 04:53

At the end of 2015, Implenia, working with internal and external stakeholders, conducted a materiality analysis based on GRI guidelines in order to review its priorities. The analysis confirmed that the company and its sustainability strategy were on the right track. The materiality analysis was updated and clarified at an internal sustainability workshop during a management conference in February 2017.

Finally, Implenia is guided in its sustainability work by the UN’s internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The company wants to help achieve these objectives. The table shows which SDGs are covered by Implenia and its sustainability priorities.

Relevant SDG grouped into our five material topics 

Material topics of Implenia

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Sustainable products and services

  • SDG 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure
  • SDG 9.4: Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies
  • SDG 11.3: Enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization 

Attractive working environment

  • SDG 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities
  • SDG 8.5: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men
  • SDG 8.6: Substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers 

Respect for the environment

  • SDG 6.3: Improve water quality
  • SDG 11.6: Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities
  • SDG 12.4: Achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes
  • SDG 12.5: Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

Social commitment and compliance

  • SDG 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change
  • SDG 16.5: Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms

Financial and operational excellence

  • SDG 8.3: Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation

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Based on the 2015 materiality analysis and on the SDGs, at the start of 2018 Implenia adjusted its sustainability strategy for 2020. The company now incorporates suppliers and subcontractors more into the implementation of its sustainability goals; this accords with the general trend towards more transparency in the upstream supply chain.

Finally, Implenia wants to do more for sustainability outside its normal business activities, and at the start of 2017, following a sustainability workshop, the company started its “Implenia without Borders” initiative.

Strategic approaches and key themes of Implenia’s material topics

Why is the topic relevant and what are the risks and opportunities?Aims for 2020
Sustainable products and services 
When carrying out building projects, we affect nature by creating environmental emissions. The way Implenia builds can also have an indirect effect on the emissions generated once the completed building is actually being used (e.g. energy consumption for heating and cooling).To our aims 2020
A large proportion of emissions are generated in the production and procurement of construction products. It is important to raise awareness among suppliers and subcontractors and, where possible, work with sustainable partners. 
Attractive working environment 
Construction is an industry in which there is a high risk of accidents, so ensuring a safe working environment is Implenia’s highest priority.To our aims 2020
There is a shortage of skilled personnel in the construction industry. Training and developing its own construction workers is therefore crucial to the Group’s long-term effectiveness. 
Long-term retention and continuing development of its employees is central to the company’s performance, culture and stability. 
Respect for the environment 
The construction industry generates considerable quantities of building waste; it is also one of the largest consumers of energy and, therefore, producers of CO2 emissions.To our aims 2020
Sometimes on building sites, there isn’t enough knowledge about the environment. Environmental protection is not yet consistently embedded in all core processes. 
Social commitment and compliance 
To prevent infringements of the Code of Conduct, employee-awareness measures need to be continued and the principles set out in the Code need to be embedded in business processes.To our aims 2020
The impact of Implenia’s business activities on the environment, society and the economy is far-reaching. It is important that the company is involved in the long-term development of its immediate and more distant environment. 
Knowledge of our own impact is essential if we are to assess and continually develop our mitigation efforts. 
Financial and operational excellence 
As an international company it is important that we share experiences and know-how within and between all business units.To our aims 2020
Clear processes and instructions can help prevent errors and increase efficiency. Owing to the high risks and generally lower margins associated with building projects, efficient and intelligent processes are absolutely critical. 

Our stakeholders

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Implenia’s Code of Conduct defines the company’s most important stakeholders. Our dealings with these stakeholders are briefly described below.

Employees

All of Implenia’s managers are required to foster active dialogue with their staff. One major vehicle for this communication is the target-setting meeting, which takes place every year as part of the management-by-objectives strategy and which is supported by a web-based employee management tool called “iperform”. The company uses various internal communications tools, including the employee magazine “Impact”, which appears twice year, the intranet, staff events and an electronic newsletter. The CEO also writes directly to employees several times a year in his “CEO Letter”.

The “GEBO mailbox” enables employees to contact the Group Executive Board directly. Implenia actively manages a variety of internal and external social media platforms designed to increase contact between employees. These include Yammer (internal), LinkedIn (external), Xing (external), Facebook (external), YouTube (external) and Instagram (external).

Customers

Its customers are at the heart of everything Implenia does. As well as numerous contacts at the project level, the company also pursues general, non-project-specific communication with major customers. Approximately 50 such discussions take place in Switzerland each year. These help foster mutual understanding and give Implenia a valuable external perspective.

Its “One Company” approach has brought Implenia closer to its customers in recent years thanks to improved internal and external interfaces. Monthly meetings take place at management level each month to ensure customers are served as effectively as possible. A survey is conducted after each project so customers give detailed feedback on working with Implenia and rate the company’s services. Implenia also regularly gathers customer statements on topical issues and projects and then uses internal communications to make these statements available to employees as important feedback.

Shareholders and investors

Implenia follows an open, transparent and timely information policy in the interests of its shareholders, investors and the general public. In its periodic and ad hoc reporting, Implenia is committed to equal treatment of all stakeholder groups with regard to timing and content. As with customers, Implenia also gathers regular feedback from its investors and communicates this external perspective to employees through the “Impact” staff magazine and other channels.
 
Comprehensive information about the company is available to all investors, journalists and other interested parties under the «Investors» link on our website. Sustainable investors can also find more information in the “Sustainable Investment” section of the site.

Suppliers

When choosing business partners, Implenia looks for companies that share its own core values. Subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers are obliged to follow the Code of Conduct Implenia has had a supplier management system in place for several years now. This makes its business relationships more transparent and enables communication with suppliers and subcontractors on an equal footing. This relationship is further cultivated at the annual supplier days.

Implenia met most recently with its suppliers in May 2018 under the slogan “Gemeinsam zum Erfolg” (“Successful Together”). The event was attended by some 300 business partners and Implenia representatives, who discussed issues such as compliance, cooperation and contract design. At the end of the day, Implenia awarded prizes to its suppliers for outstanding achievements in sustainability, innovation and partnership.

Public authorities

Implenia is committed to a professional relationship with governmental institutions. The company takes great pains to comply with the law as it applies to its tightly regulated field of activity. In the case of alleged or actual conflicts, the company cooperates fully with the authorities, helps with investigations and communicates transparently.

It also maintains close contact with public sector bodies when engaged in urban development projects. Implenia runs such major projects in close cooperation with the relevant authorities and prefers to hold architecture competitions to ensure the highest possible standards in terms of sustainability, functionality and aesthetics.

Social partners and associations

As one of the largest employers in the Swiss construction sector, Implenia has a special responsibility to its employees. Consequently, its management maintains a constant, active dialogue with its social partners. Regular meetings are held to share information and discuss each other’s needs. Implenia’s representatives work in various organisations and associations, such as regional builders’ associations and the Network for Sustainable Construction Switzerland (NNBS).

Media

Implenia runs an active and open communication policy. The Communication Department provides the press and electronic media with timely and comprehensive information about relevant events. Our communication experts also regularly invite journalists to information events to keep them up to date with the company’s activities and business performance. In this way Implenia can provide transparency to the broader public as well as to its specific stakeholder groups.

Society

Professional media work is only one part of the Group’s information sharing efforts. Another important strand is direct contact with the people who are affected by our construction activity. For larger projects, Implenia organises public information events and site visits. Implenia makes particular efforts to communicate actively with local people when it is undertaking projects in urban areas.

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