For Eco-Friendly Behavior at the Office - Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

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Gütersloh, 05/22/2015

For Eco-Friendly Behavior at the Office

Subject: Environment, Employees
Country: Germany
Category: Project

"It's scary to see how much paper and printer toner is wasted every day in the office. I want to do something about it." So Laura Hagedorn, an aspiring industrial manager, gave it her best shot during a "be green" project at the Gütersloh Corporate Center. With a view to the upcoming "be green Day" on Wednesday June 3, the idea to organize a "be green" creative competition with trainees and Group students at the Corporate Center was developed in a cooperation between the Corporate Responsibility & Diversity Management and Internal Administration departments.

In the end, nine young people volunteered to design a reminder tool, such as a sticker, a poster or a stand-up desk display, in coordination with Katharina Kerl (Corporate Responsibility and Diversity Management) and under the expert guidance of Internal Administration, to sensitize employees in the office on a daily basis for the topic of environmental and slowing down climate change. "It’s great that the trainees volunteered their spare time for this. Everyone was very actively involved," says Kerl, who also thanked Linda Müller, Chair of the Bertelsmann Youth and Trainee Council, for her active support in coordinating the project.

No easy task

The creative competition was launched after a tour of building services led by Volker Hinzmann and Martin Rudel of Internal Administration. Over the next three months, the trainees met in three project groups that each worked out a product proposal. "We had so many ideas, and the in-house experts helped us to check what was possible and what wasn't. In the end we found a cool solution - a great product that we’re very happy with," says Jean Michel Diaz, 20, who is on a dual study program at Bertelsmann.

No easy task, because a lot has already done in terms of lifecycle assessment at the Corporate Center in recent years. Thanks to technical innovations in the field of air conditioning and electrical equipment considerable amounts of CO2 emissions have been cut at the Corporate Center since 2008. Greenhouse gas emissions per employee have fallen by nearly ten percent in the past four years there. Now the employees themselves are being asked to help slow down climate change in the building. "Achieving cuts in energy consumption and CO2 emissions in future is not just a matter of technical investments, but is also and especially up to each individual’s behavior," says Luigi Sanfilippo, Senior Vice President and Head of Internal Administration.

And that is exactly what the trainees want to achieve with their ideas for resource-saving activities. But results weren’t the only focus of the workshops. Katharina Kerl developed the concept in line with the Bertelsmann Essentials: "The trainees were called on to think entrepreneurially – essentially, they had to develop a successful product. They worked together as partners in a team and with other service providers. They developed creative ideas while also making a contribution to society, namely to protecting the environment." The groups were to act like small "ad agencies," from brainstorming to the pitch. "Managing a creative process in a structured way was a great experience," says Philipp Aschhoff, 21. "We invested a lot of time and are excited to see the results of the vote." Two budding media professionals from Arvato Sonopress supported the trainees in designing the logos, products and posters.

On "be green Day" on June 3, the Corporate Center staff will vote on how they want to be reminded of sustainable conduct in the future. Employees can vote for their favorite proposal in the Corporate Center basement, where the three concepts will be presented. The winning proposal will be put into practice before the year is out. Winning the competition would be a great reward for everyone involved. "It would be a great feeling if our product was on every desk at some point and we could say: We did that," says trainee Henrik Barton, 18.

In recognition of their efforts, Marie-Luise Kühn von Burgsdorff, Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility & Diversity Management, presented the trainees with certificates of participation in the "be green project." "We very much appreciate your dedicating yourself to the environment in your spare time. This really sets you apart," she told the young men and women.