With recyclable construction against the throwaway society

02 Feb 2023
Marcus Ehrenberger works as Function Lead in the central Sustainability Management department at STRABAG. In this blog post, he provides exciting insights into the topic of sustainable construction, his field of activity and how his work can sustainably change tomorrow's construction for the better.
Image of an employee at work

Briefly explained: What exactly is meant by recyclable construction?
Recyclable structures are designed so that resources can be used as effectively, as efficiently and for as long as possible. As few new resources as possible, so-called primary materials, should be used, but rather those that were already in circulation, so-called secondary materials. The existing building stock is thus a valuable source of materials for new buildings. After a life cycle that is as long as possible, the recyclable materials from recyclable buildings are returned to the cycle in the best possible quality. Circular construction means that we say goodbye to the term "waste." If we really think in terms of cycles, we speak instead of "recyclables."

What are your tasks as Function Lead for Sustainability Management?
The American economist Peter F. Drucker once aptly described the function of management: "Make what is desirable first possible and then actual." As the central function for Sustainability Management, we do exactly that - with a view to sustainability. We create the strategic framework for the Group's sustainability goals and support the operating units in achieving these goals with concrete measures and reliable data.

My team is particularly concerned with the issues of sustainable supply chains,carbon footprinting of buildings and the circular economy. When it comes to circular economy, we are interested not only in circular construction but also in circularity on our construction sites. We want to improve recyclable material flows and return as much material as possible to the cycle in the best possible quality. We have a great deal of expert knowledge in the Group. An important part of our work is getting the right people around the table, pooling knowledge and joining forces.

Where do you see current challenges in this area?
We have three core social sustainability challenges: climate change, human rights and environmental risks in complex supply chains, and resource scarcity. As a Group, we want to create solutions to these and have set ambitious targets. These are decarbonization of the entire value chain, fair working conditions and environmental protection in the supply chain, and the transition to a circular economy.

How do you approach problem solving?
We develop strategic goals, break them down to measure levels and back them up with key figures. This requires close cooperation with operating units and other corporate functions. We have set ourselves the strategic goal of decarbonization: climate neutrality by 2040 across the entire value chain. In partial steps, we want to first make our own buildings climate-neutral, then the construction sites, then our buildings and finally the building materials. These sub-targets are underpinned by a roadmap and linked to operational measures. With a view to fair working conditions and environmental protection, we have defined clear requirements for our suppliers. We have also introduced risk-based prevention and remediation measures. We still have a lot of work to do in this area and are currently setting up a new social compliance team.

How can you change the future for the better through your work?
By participating in a social transformation process through my work. My vision is of climate-positive buildings, i.e. buildings that generate more energy than they consume, that clean up the air, and that are valued as material banks and fully recycled after their use phase. We as a Group, but also each and every one of us, can take responsibility and, through our work, play a part in changing tomorrow's building for the better in the long term.


Do you also want to build the future with us and make a sustainable difference? Then take a look at our vacancies in the area of sustainability and see if there is something for you:

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