How do we move from the traditional linear to the circular economy? And how can digital transformation contribute to strengthening the circular approach in construction? Discussing these questions together was the aim of the 2nd STRABAG Stakeholder Dialogue, which took place in mid-September in Cologne under the guiding theme "Digitalization as a driver for sustainability in construction". The modern venue at "Bauwerk Köln" and a small, select group of participants created the right ambience for an open and trustful exchange.

An open exchange

In addition to Dr. Thomas Birtel, STRABAG’s CEO and patron of the project, and CDO Klemens Haselsteiner, several subdivision managers of STRABAG also took part. The idea behind this: an exchange directly at the operative level with representatives of our most important stakeholder groups: private and public clients, suppliers, civil society and NGOs.

Building trust through personal and open exchange – the concept behind the STRABAG stakeholder dialogue

The day began with keynote speeches by Dr. Thomas Birtel and Klemens Haselsteiner, who gave an overview of the topics of climate protection, resource consumption, circular economy and recycling, and explained the associated challenges in the construction industry. In his capacity as Chief Digital Officer, . Haselsteiner emphasized the role of digitalisation in particular.

Dr. Birtel also used the presence of the various stakeholders to announce the launch of the sustainability strategy and its goal of climate neutrality along the entire value chain.

Insights into our Subdivisions

In the following “Spotlights”, subdivision managers Werner Eistert, Hubert Blaim and Stephan Jainöcker gave a short presentation on insights and challenges regarding sustainability in their subdivisions. Afterwards, discussions were held in rotating groups at three tables on the topics of CO2-neutral quarrying, recycling, and digitalization and sustainability of buildings.

Dynamic & interactive: lively discussions in small groups

Through the dynamic and interactive format, participants gained insight into current STRABAG projects and initiatives and were already warmed up for the breakout sessions in the afternoon.

Looking at the entire life cycle

Divided into transportation infrastructures as well as building construction and civil engineering, the breakout sessions focused on the life cycle approach. Two presentations by internal and external experts on different life cycle phases provided strategic impulses for the subsequent lively round of discussions.

As the subsequent presentation of results in the plenary session showed, the various stakeholders already agree on many things:

  • Climate protection does not come for free. In the medium term, refraining from climate protection measures is more expensive than implementing them, primarily for future generations.
  • Resource scarcity is a fact (example sand)
  • Used building material does not become waste when reused, but valuable raw material. Market participants’ acceptance of recycled material urgently needs to be promoted so that its use becomes standard practice – also from the point of view that landfill space is becoming increasingly scarce.
  • “Recycling” in current practice often means “downcycling”
  • Already during the design of buildings, thought must be given to which building materials are used, how they are used, and how assembly and disassembly can be carried out.
  • Technological progress will be decisive for resource-saving construction in the future

Ask Birtel, ask Haselsteiner

To conclude the day, Dr. Birtel and Klemens Haselsteiner answered questions from stakeholders on the key topics of digitalisation and new challenges relating to climate change.

In the end, one thing was clear: The dialogue format is ideally suited to better understand the diverse requirements of the stakeholder groups and to jointly develop solutions for the challenges the industry is facing.

In the concluding Q&A with the tagline “Ask Birtel, ask Haselsteiner”, STRABAG CEO Dr. Thomas Birtel and CDO Klemens Haselsteiner answer the stakeholders’ questions.

Even though more and more areas of business life are migrating to the digital realm, one thing has not changed: Building trust, sharing knowledge and mutual enrichment is best done in person and on equal terms, because trust is the key to solving complex problems. This made it all the more important to hold the 2nd STRABAG Stakeholder Dialogue in analog form and as a face-to-face event.

We thank all participants and look forward to continuing the format!

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