Getting to zero – ADC

ADC on September 20, 2022

Lars Knöner, Head of Sustainability Projects at Schüco International, in conversation with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw, discusses the importance of targeting zero carbon and what the manufacturer is doing to achieve this goal.

The construction industry is thought to be responsible for around 50 per cent of all material consumption worldwide. It is therefore vital that it, like other energy- and resource-hungry sectors, targets and achieves zero carbon in the coming years. One company that is already well on its way to this goal is leading façade, window and door systems specialist Schüco. Lars Knöner, Head of Sustainability Projects at Schüco International, in conversation with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw, discusses what achieving zero carbon means for the company and what it is doing to make this happen.

What is Schüco’s overall approach to achieving zero carbon, and what goals has it set itself?

Climate protection is one of the most important sustainability issues for Schüco, and a central objective in our sustainability strategy. In cooperation with WWF Germany, we have developed science-based climate protection targets, which according to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), correspond to the degree of decarbonisation required to comply with the 1.5 degree limit of the Paris climate protection agreement. The overall goal is the complete climate neutrality of our company by 2040 – without offsetting.

The necessary CO2 savings must be made holistically and address three areas or scopes. Scope one refers to the company’s own emission sources, such as CO2 those from boilers or the vehicle fleet. Scope two refers to the energy we purchase, for example the electricity we need for our production processes or our IT technology. Scope three refers to the life cycle of our products and includes the entire supply chain, as well as the processing, use and disposal of our products. In total, about 99 per cent of emissions are related to scope three.

We are obliged by the SBTi to communicate annually on our website and biennially in our sustainability report about our CO2 emissions and about the status of target achievement. The basis for calculating our emissions is the GHG Protocol.

Is Schüco partnering with any other organisations, suppliers or manufacturers? And if so in what ways and to what ends?

At Schüco, we believe that functioning partnerships are an important prerequisite for the sustainable transformation of the construction industry. We can only achieve our climate protection goal if we collaborate closely with our partners and suppliers, and jointly identify CO2 reduction measures. The will to really change something must be present in every process step of the value chain, whether it be in the bauxite mines, the foundries, the system houses or

the processors.

We are also active in various industry initiatives, such as the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), which promotes a responsible aluminium value chain. In Germany in particular, we are active in many regional associations and we have been working for years with recycling initiatives, such as the AIUIF or Rewindo, to promote a functioning circular economy in the construction industry.

What current and new measures is Schüco taking to achieve zero carbon with regards to the materials it uses?

Our materials have the greatest influence on our overall CO2 emissions. In order to reduce CO2 significantly, we will have to rely more on low-carbon aluminium in the future. But its availability is currently very limited and has been exacerbated by the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war, resulting in supply bottlenecks and price increases. However, through our consistent demand for materials with lower CO2 emissions alone, we are setting an example and helping to change the market. We are also actively analysing the use of alternative, lower CO2 materials for our systems and are driving the transition from linear to circular product development.

How do you ensure responsible sourcing of materials and what are your key criteria?

Schüco relies on natural resources and materials, such as metals and engineering plastics. One focus is on aluminium, our most important material in metal construction. With many direct suppliers in the metal construction sector, the realisation of an environmentally and socially compatible aluminium supply chain is a major challenge. At the same time, as part of the value chain, we see it as our responsibility to promote the share of aluminium that is certified according to sustainability criteria.

We are increasing our focus on the procurement of low CO2 materials. Schüco has also been involved in the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) for many years, promoting the responsible procurement of aluminium and the establishment of globally valid and certifiable sustainability standards in the aluminium supply chain. In addition to the ASI Performance Standard, we have now also received certification to the ASI Chain of Custody Standard, which enables us to source responsibly produced aluminiums.

What role does the re-usage and/or recycling of Schüco products play in the company’s overall approach to zero carbon?

A functioning circular economy is one of the key sustainability issues at Schüco. We are convinced that buildings are the raw material depots of the future. In addition, the circularity of building products must be ensured. For our aluminium systems, we rely on certifications according to the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Programme. A Cradle to Cradle certificate not only certifies that products can be returned to the material cycle without problems, but also that social standards are met and that water and energy are used carefully during production.

With a total of 57 certified aluminium systems, Schüco is one of the industry pioneers in implementing the cradle-to-cradle principle. However, these concepts alone are not enough to implement a functioning circular economy in the construction industry. In order to make the return of products attractive for the manufacturer and to make the return of materials into the recycling loop as uncomplicated as possible, what is needed are functioning collection and return systems. As already mentioned, Schüco is committed to closing the recycling loops for aluminium and plastic through the AIUIF and Rewindo industry initiatives.

In terms of the circular economy, there are other exciting approaches that make it possible to save resources. One of these approaches is the introduction of digital material passports in which all the materials used in a building are documented.

The architect Thomas Rau, with whom Schüco has already worked successfully on the completion of various properties, has created a cadastre for these material passports with the Madaster platform, to which the entire property sector has access. As a company, we are also involved in Madaster, because we see an important development for the future. After the building has been used, it simplifies the return of the materials to the material cycle.

Contact Details

For more information, please call 01908 282111, email, or visit the Schüco website.

Source: Architecture Today