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Sustainable impulses for Controlling and the Construction Industry

October 5, 2023

The Institute for Business Ethics and Sustainable Strategy (IBES) of FHWien der WKW, presented strategic approaches for sustainable business in financial management and the construction industry.

Building a sustainable construction industry

As part of a Responsible Management Lecture by IBES in spring 2023, Anna-Vera Deinhammer (ÖGNI, now an endowed professor in the Real Estate Management study program at FHWien der WKW) and Katharina Aspalter (STRABAG) discussed the basic prerequisite for greater sustainability in the construction industry. A construction industry that strives for an ecologically and socially sustainable transformation – for example in the sense of a circular economy – needs internal and cross-company approaches.

For more sustainability in companies, the following is needed:

  • Promoting and anchoring the topic in strategy and corporate culture.
  • a productive dialog with the entire workforce.
  • an open and transparent reporting system.
  • a networked organizational structure that supports sustainability-oriented goals.

For the construction industry as a whole, it is crucial that the involved stakeholders

  • exchange information on sustainable innovations.
  • share the costs and risks of sustainable transformation.
  • strive for common standards and comply with regulations for greater sustainability.
  • engage in continuous and productive dialogue to jointly address the challenges and seize the opportunities of sustainable transformation.

To support these approaches, Endowed Professor Anna-Vera Deinhammer aims to establish a Competence Center for Sustainable, Resource-Efficient and Climate-Neutral Real Estate Development and Redevelopment at FHWien der WKW. Aspects of the circular economy as well as current legal regulations in Austria and the EU are to be considered.

A summary of the entire discussion about the basic requirements for more sustainability in the construction industry can be found in the BUSINESSART issue 02/2023 (in German).

Current dates of the Responsible Management Lectures – e.g. in fall 2023 on the topic “Sustainability Transitions” – can be found here.

Sustainable controlling for an effective sustainability strategy

The “Change for Corporate Sustainability (TransformS)” competence team at IBES, funded by the City of Vienna (MA 23), together with the Financial Management & Controlling study program at FHWien of WKW, presents four options for action for ecological sustainability controlling. Anna Rennhofer (master’s graduate) examined practical experience with the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) as part of a master’s thesis supervised by Daniela Ortiz (Head of IBES).

To find concrete approaches for the implementation of an ecological sustainability controlling, eight EMAS-certified companies in Austria and Germany were interviewed. The work supervised by IBES shows four concrete options for action that complement each other.

  • The first action option focuses on the relevance of a functioning interface between ecological and financial controlling. Cooperation between the two areas can leverage existing know-how and strengthen the legitimacy of sustainability controlling.
  • The second option recommends using already existing instruments for controlling an ecological sustainability strategy. For example, a balanced scorecard can be extended to include the ecological perspective. This enables internal and external benchmarking of the defined targets and key performance indicators.
  • The measurability of ecological factors is the third option. To use controlling instruments effectively, ecological factors should be measurable physically and monetarily – ideally also across company boundaries. This also serves to make the sustainability strategy tangible within the company,
  • The fourth option for action focuses on raising awareness and actively involving employees. A shared understanding of the sustainability strategy and its anchoring in everyday working life are prerequisites for successful implementation.

The survey shows that the measurability of ecological factors can strengthen the awareness of employees. When applying the described controlling instruments, the involvement of the departments concerned can also be combined.

How financial and ecological controlling can be “thought together” can be read in the article co-authored with Katharina Salomon (Research Associate at IBES) on respACT – the corporate platform for sustainable management (in German).