Sustainable production

If you wish to promote environmental protection, to foster a responsible way of dealing with our planet, you need to influence a variety of parameters. In commercial and industrial production, this involves, above all, the careful use of resources and energy. The good news is that while Germany’s economic output has grown over the last two decades, the country’s industrial energy consumption has decreased. One reason for this is the decline of industrial production in Eastern Germany, and generally lower energy consumption in the industrial sector.

The industrial sector no longer ranks first amongst the four major energy end-use sectors (the other three being transportation, residential and commercial), but has stepped down to second place. Most of the energy consumed in factories relates to process heat; it accounts for approximately two thirds of industrial energy consumption. A quarter is used up by mechanical energy. Heating buildings accounts for only a small fraction of overall energy consumption. In the industrial sector, energy conservation is not an end in itself but a way to cut costs and comply with legal requirements. Plus, as consumers are becoming more critical, it is becoming increasingly important for sales.


Many companies – One commitment

There are three very good reasons for reducing energy consumption in the production process: cutting operating costs, protecting the climate, and conserving resources. From a global perspective, companies in Germany are amongst the pioneers on the path towards better energy efficiency. Two of these pioneers are Laverana GmbH & Co. KG and the Remmers Group. Both of them are Savings Banks clients.

Laverana’s products are available in 40 countries. The natural cosmetics are based on a wide variety of ecological ingredients.

“First we were admired, then we were mocked, and in the end, we were imitated,” says Klara Ahlers of Laverana. The products of this certified natural cosmetics producer – known under the brand name “lavera” - are available in 40 countries. The company currently employs a staff of around 380 people. Klara Ahlers has been Co-Managing Director for more than 25 years, together with founding shareholder Thomas Haase. Both are self-taught when it comes to business: she is a qualified educator, he studied industrial design.

The chemistry is right: Klara Ahlers and Thomas Haase, of Laverana, with Frank Rakel, of Savings Bank Hanover.

Their first business address was a barn. “A lot has happened in two and a half decades of growth,” says Ms Ahlers, “but our objectives have stayed the same: democratisation, differentiation and internationalisation.” Environmental protection, sustainability, and biological raw materials also characterise lavera. In fact, more than 300 ecological ingredients are used in the different cleansers and skin-care products. Animal testing is a taboo, as is the use of silicones, mineral oils, aluminium salts or microplastics. Those mockers who used to make fun of “natural cosmetics” as a niche product have fallen silent. Certified natural cosmetics now generate more than a billion euros in sales in Germany: a level of business that earns respect. It comes as no surprise that Ms Ahlers and Mr Haase also try, successfully, to operate and produce as energy-efficiently as possible. Thomas Haase continuously invests in ultra-modern and energy-saving manufacturing technology – with the support of Sparkasse Hannover. Their trusted advisor is Frank Rakel. He values Ms Ahlers’ and Mr Haase’s business, not only for their success and good interpersonal relations: “Laverana is a valuable asset to the region – and at the same time, it reaches far beyond.” For many years, Mr Rakel has also seen himself as a consultant to Laverana, and Thomas Haase and Klara Ahlers confirm: “As an SME, personal contact and exchange of ideas are very important to us, and that is what Mr Rakel, our corporate advisor, provides.”

From Laverana’s headquarters in Wennigsen near Hanover, it is just a little over an hour’s journey west to reach another pioneer of energy-efficiency: the Remmers Group has a production site in Hiddenhausen, a small town that approximately 20,000 call home. This is where Remmers Group produces varnishes for the high-quality coatings used in industrial and handcrafted furniture production, among other things. “The company can look back at a decade-long history. It is very important for Hiddenhausen,” says Frank Rehmeier. He is the corporate advisor of Sparkasse Herford, responsible for this Remmers Group site. Mr Rehmeier is sure that the site’s importance will continue to increase in the future. Why? Because the company is taking the correct path. It is expanding production and, at the same time, investing in environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient technologies. Although, according to Mr Rehmeier, environmental protection is nothing new for this site: “The company is traditionally well organised in the area of environmental protection, one of the reasons being that the production site is located next to a nature reserve.”

Joint forces for energy efficiency and economic success: Klaus Boog, of Remmers Group, Frank Rehmeier, of the Savings Bank, and Christian Hoischen, of NRW.BANK.

The size of investments is an important factor, he explains: “After all, we are talking about approximately EUR 20 million, for which we have also taken out an Efficiency Loan from NRW.BANK in the amount of EUR 5 million. NRW.BANK also provided additional KfW funds.” Sitting on the other side of the table, so to speak, for the Remmers Group is Klaus Boog. As a member of the Management Board, he is responsible for international business, finance, and the company's operations at Hiddenhausen. “We will create Europe’s most efficient varnish factory in this field in Hiddenhausen,” he says. The set of measures is comprehensive, ranging from state-of-the-art equipment to energetic redevelopment. With these measures, the company aims to continue on the path already taken, using resources responsibly, relying more on natural resources and water-based varnishes. A key factor – as well as the new and very energy-efficient technology – is the closed-loop concept, leading to better emission control and higher occupational safety for employees. Messrs Rehmeier and Boog haven’t been worked together for long – nearly three years – but they are both sure: “The chemistry is right.”

The Remmers Group produces as energy-efficiently as possible, and invests heavily in research.

One reason for this is that both parties – company and Savings Bank – have the same goal: to create a successful sustainable business. The P4 indicator of the Savings Banks' reporting system, which deals with lending for environmental protection, energy and resource efficiency, states: “The member institutions of the Savings Banks Finance Group take an active part in the loan financing of investments in energy efficiency and environmental protection.” Laverana and Remmers are just two of many examples that demonstrate how the Savings Banks act according to their principle of working with and supporting sustainable business.