1. Strategic Analysis and Action

The company declares whether or not it pursues a sustainability strategy. It explains what concrete measures it is undertaking to operate in compliance with key recognised sector-specific, national and international standards.

At the beginning of 2014, our institute was looking for answers to the question: “Which opportunities and risks do we see for Fraunhofer UMSICHT in a consistent alignment with the guiding principle of sustainable development?”. We found the answers in several workshops and discussed them with the institute’s directorate. The results are transparently recorded within the SWOT analysis on page 4 of the current Sustainability Report. Please find more detailed information on this topic in the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Sustainability Report on page 3.

We reported the standards within the Key Performance Indicator G4-56 “The organization’s values, principles, standards and norms of behavior”.

2. Materiality

The company discloses the aspects of its business operations that have a significant impact on sustainability issues and what material impact sustainability issues have on its operations. It analyses the positive and negative effects and provides information as to how these insights are integrated into the company’s processes.

The sustainability strategy of our institute is embedded in our research assignment and anchored in our guidelines, e.g. in paragraph 10: “Fraunhofer UMSICHT sees itself as a pathfinder for technical changes in the areas of environment, energy, process engineering, and safety. The institute promotes effective management, environmentally friendly technologies, and environmentally conscious behavior in order to enhance society’s overall quality of life.” (The complete guidelines can be found here).

Our sustainability strategy was created holistically at Fraunhofer UMSICHT and is anchored in the institute as a whole. Since 2009 our institute has been using the Sustainability Balanced Scorecard (SCBC) as a controlling instrument. Within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft the institutes exchange views in the Fraunhofer Network Sustainability and have developed suggestions for an overall strategy.

We intend to show all our stakeholders (e.g. customers, public and politics) how our R&D products and services contribute to a sustainable development. We would like to get into contact with them to bring forward these objectives together in order to improve the quality of life in our society in general. In 2014 we conducted a stakeholder dialog with representatives from the fields of industry, science, politics, and society and developed a materiality matrix of sustainable criteria (which can be found on page 7 of our Sustainability Report).

In a first workshop in January 2014, those aspects/topics were worked out that the employees expect in the sustainability report of Fraunhofer UMSICHT. The results were clustered and in February 2014 presented to the steering committee of the institute. The latter then prioritized and complemented them. In June 2014, a workshop followed with external stakeholders from the fields of industry, science, politics, and society in which additional aspects relevant to UMSICHT were found.

In an intense and fruitful discussion the following aspects were considered to be of particular importance from an external point of view: employee integration and participation strategy, "sustainable view of the person", contribution of the institute to transformation processes (e. g. energy transition) and transdisciplinary, comprehensible presentation ("translation") of scientific results in a social dialog.

Additional aspects are: regional effects of the R&D results and UMSICHT as motivator for innovative R&D for customers as well as proactive networking. These aspects were primarily attributed to the areas of staff responsibility, innovation process, responsible research, and responsibility for society (as well as for the region).

Please find the materiality matrix on page 7 of our Sustainability Report.

3. Objectives

The company discloses what qualitative and/or quantitative as well as temporally defined sustainability goals have been set and operationalised and how their level of achievement is monitored.

Unlike a manufacturing company, our institute cannot set absolute reduction goals due to its R&D-activities (e.g. concerning water and energy use), for the reason that Fraunhofer UMSICHT consumes different amounts of energy or water depending on the nature and scope of our projects (which include e.g. development of an innovative energy storage or improvement of the membrane technology, thus including a higher consumption of energy or water). However, our work may lead to reduced resource consumption and emissions in the final product and we also make sure that the resources are used as efficiently as possible.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT applies measures in various fields (e.g. in human resource development and sustainability management), which are documented in detail on pages 30 - 31 of our Fraunhofer UMSICHT Sustainability Report. Examples include e.g. green IT, green procurement, reducing paper consumption and childcare for the children of our employees.

The objectives of the institute are also in the Changemaker Manifesto of the Utopia Foundation in the form of ten commitments documented.

4. Depth of the Value Chain

The company states what significance aspects of sustainability have for added value and how deep in the value chain the sustainability criteria are verified.

With its services Fraunhofer UMSICHT as a research institute is positioned at the beginning of the value chain, partly because of developing prototypes and individual products. In order to increase the quality of our services for our customers and clients, we also take into consideration critical issues, since changes in the development process can be implemented more easily and cost-effectively. Critical points include, e.g. the use of hazardous substances and their substitution possibilities, availability of raw materials (criticality of individual materials) and environmental impact during the use and disposal phases (reparability, disassembly, recyclability). We show our clients alternatives and options for action with regard to these issues.

For our customers we also provide sustainability assessments and LCAs based on ISO 14040/44.

Key Performance Indicators to criteria 1 to 4