Sustainable products and services

The construction industry has an enormous influence on the environment. Implenia aims to use this leverage by consistently applying sustainable methods and approaches, especially in projects it develops itself. It also involves suppliers when finding solutions and plays an active role in the effort to establish sustainable construction standards.


There are approximately 1.7 million buildings in Switzerland, 70,000 kilometres of road and 5000 kilometres of rail track. Calculations show that the construction and operation of all this infrastructure produces 30 percent of Switzerland’s total greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 40 percent of our energy consumption. The 330,000 people who work on and around our Swiss construction sites generate around CHF 62 billion in turnover every year. These figures make it clear just what an enormous influence the construction industry exerts on the economy, the environment and society.

Because Implenia wants to make a contribution to Switzerland’s future, it aims to deliver sustainability in its products and services – i.e. in its core business. Sustainable products and services meet society’s needs, create long-term financial value and protect natural resources. Clearly, conflicts of interest can arise, but the company accepts this as a challenge.

Depending on whereabouts the product or service sits within the value chain, Implenia can intervene to different degrees. At the planning stage of a project, for example, fundamental decisions can still be taken about using “greener” materials and reducing energy consumption; but if Implenia only comes in at the construction stage the main focus will be on environmentally friendly working practices. Follow-up work on sustainability issues is handled by the internal Sustainability Committee and regularly discussed by the Group Executive Board.

2.2Fighting climate change

For Implenia, which is involved in such a wide variety of activities across the whole construction process, the consequences of climate change are very significant, as are efforts to mitigate them. The company has the ability to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adjusting its own activities.

By deliberately choosing building techniques that require less grey energy, Implenia can contribute to the reduction of emissions during and after construction. Implenia also minimises the direct consumption of fossil fuels on building sites, and in workshops and production facilities (see chapter 4).

2000-Watt Society

Implenia aims to help make the 2000-Watt Society a reality. The 2000-Watt Society is a vision adopted by many cantons, communities, towns and property investors. The Vision emphasises how we can maintain our high standard of living even if we drastically cut energy consumption. For construction projects, this means not only utilising energy-optimised construction methods, but also considering mobility and, therefore, location.

2.3Overall evaluation of our construction projects

The principles of sustainable construction can only be implemented properly if the abstract concept is expressed as specific qualitative and quantitative criteria. Implenia has done this with, for example, its own in-house tool for making comprehensive evaluations of construction projects. This is known as GeNaB® (“Gesamtbewertung Nachhaltiges Bauen” = total evaluation of sustainable construction – see box). GeNaB® is applied to all of Implenia’s own developments, and projects developed by Implenia will only be approved by the Investment Committee if they meet the threshold criteria.

GeNaB®: Total evaluation of sustainable construction



In 2008 Implenia developed its own tool for evaluating construction projects: Gesamtbewertung Nachhaltiges Bauen (total evaluation of sustainable construction), or GeNaB® for short. This has been available on a user-friendly web platform since the middle of 2012. GeNaB® helps construction professionals plan, review and optimise new-build and conversion projects from the point of view of sustainability. The assessment grid can be applied to four categories of building – residential, office, retail and retail park – and to two types of project – new build or modernisation. The extent to which each criterion is fulfilled is measured using a traffic light system. Thanks to GeNaB®, a development can be planned right from the start in a transparent and sustainable way.

2.4Sustainable construction projects

Implenia takes sustainable approaches to many of its projects. It has the most scope to promote sustainability in projects that it develops, plans and implements from scratch itself. This is where the company can directly influence important factors that have a decisive impact on sustainability, such as the location, architecture, construction techniques and energy strategy. Project managers monitor such projects on an ongoing basis using GeNaB®, while sustainability experts in Technical Support subject them to independent verification.

2.4.1 schorenstadt, Basel

schorenstadt in Basel is a ground-breaking project in many respects. Developed by Implenia, it comprises 53 town houses and 22 apartments in two apartment blocks. It is the first “2000-Watt Society” residential construction project in Basel. As well as fulfilling the requirements of the SIA Energy Efficiency Path and the Minergie-P-Eco Standard, schorenstadt is also a pilot project for the SNBS Sustainable Construction Standard The project won the 2012 Real Estate Award for best project development.

In order to keep the need for grey energy as low as possible, schorenstadt is built mainly of wood. The photovoltaic cells installed on the roofs are owned by all the residents, and proceeds from selling the electricity they generate are put into a special fund that distributes public transport vouchers to residents. All residents are obliged to use certified green electricity. A supply contract has already been signed for the first ten years. These initiatives are a product of the 2000-Watt Society commitment and are new for all those involved.

roy, Winterthur
ZHAW library, Winterthur

2.4.2 roy, Winterthur

Implenia has been building the “roy” residential and commercial project on the former Sulzer site in Winterthur since 2013. The development uses mixed construction methods with wooden facades. The investors behind the project are two Credit Suisse AG real estate funds. With this project, which should be completed by 2016, Implenia is not only following 2000-Watt Society standards, but is also aiming for the Green Property Gold award.

roy is a six-storey building with a green inner courtyard. It offers 229 apartments ranging in size from 2.5 to 5.5 rooms. There is also space for businesses on the street-facing ground floor. For any 2000-Watt Society project, it is vital that users can travel in an environmentally friendly way, i.e. by foot, bike or public transport. roy is helped in this regard by its proximity to rail and bus connections. There are plans for 204 parking spaces, which is less than one per apartment, and the mobility concept also includes space for shared cars and a bike rental facility.

2.4.3 ZHAW library, Winterthur

A few years ago, Implenia acquired part of the former Sulzer industrial site in the centre of Winterthur and converted this industrial building, known as City Halle, in accordance with plans drawn up by Winterthur-based P&B Architekten AG. It had to clean up the shingle facades, which contained asbestos, and the contaminated floor areas, insulate the wall to meet Minergie standards, and connect the building up to the district heating system. The building is now being transformed into the new central library for Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). The derelict property has thus been turned back into something that benefits the whole community and makes optimum use of an inner-city site. Over the coming years the university plans to develop its new main campus at the Sulzer site.

2.4.4 Recycled material for civil engineering Claie aux Moines

The gravel works at Claie aux Moines is a pioneer in recycling building materials. The works in Canton Vaud has been selling mostly recycled material in Western Switzerland since 1984. A new production facility housing the most advanced recycling technology in Switzerland came on line in summer 2013. The new plant recycles around 100,000 cubic metres of demolished material every year: including every type of concrete, tiles, bricks, asphalt and mixed materials. It can produce all the sizes and qualities of aggregate required by the market.

Switzerland’s most modern recycling plant uses a new two-stage process involving an air separator and a colour separator. The air separator removes foreign bodies such as wood and plastic from the demolished material while the colour separator sorts the heavy items such as tiles and bricks, asphalt and concrete. Thanks to this two-step approach, the recycled material is of perfect quality. The entire processing line is more than one hundred metres long. Between 12 and 15 percent of the electricity required by the plant is supplied from its own photovoltaic system, which generates more than 50,000 kilowatt hours of power a year.

As the main shareholder, Implenia supports the recycling work done at the Claie aux Moines gravel works as well as promoting the use of recycled concrete and other recycled construction materials in its own building and infrastructure projects. The use of recyclate is likely to increase sharply in the years to come – not least thanks to the new SIA 112 /2 standard, which Implenia helped to develop. The new facility thus represents an important link in Implenia’s overall sustainability chain.

Climate protection in the Gotthard Base Tunnel

The 57-kilometre long Gotthard Base Tunnel between Erstfeld and Bodio is a truly epochal piece of engineering. By the end of 2016 the longest rail tunnel in the world should help reduce the weight of cars and trucks on the roads between central Switzerland and the Ticino, thus contributing to more sustainable mobility across the Alps. Implenia has played a leading role in this superlative construction project. It headed the TAT consortium of five companies and had particular responsibility for technical implementation of the work. TAT was in charge of excavating and coating the tunnel, as well as constructing the shoulders in the Faido and Bodio sections, a stretch of almost 29 kilometres. These 29 kilometres presented particularly tough challenges for the tunnel builders, including the notorious Piora syncline.

As we now know, everything went well. TAT’s two hard rock drilling machines, each four hundred metres long, bored two parallel 9-metre wide tunnels from Bodio to Faido, and then on northwards to meet the construction gang coming from the opposite direction at the end of October 2010. The excavation of the tunnels required a huge amount of construction material, especially in situ concrete. For example, every day the TAT team used 160 cubic metres of concrete to coat and stabilise the tunnel walls. There were problems using the type of concrete originally planned, so the Implenia site management team suggested an alternative recipe to the client, resulting in a significant improvement in the tunnel’s environmental balance sheet. By using two lower CO2 sorts of cement made by Swiss producer Holcim, TAT saved a total of 33,000 tonnes of CO2 over the course of the entire construction period from 2002 to 2013. In addition, the building supplies – including 650,000 tonnes of cement and additional materials, 12,000 tonnes of steel inserts and 1400 tonnes of explosives were delivered by rail rather than lorry. This saved another 6100 tonnes of CO2.

Helping to renaturalise the Linth plain

The famous engineer Hans Conrad Escher built the system that takes the River Linth by means of the Escher channel from Mollis in Canton Glarus to Lake Walensee and through the Linth channel from Walensee to Lake Zurich. This 19th century feat of engineering protects the local people, infrastructure and farmland from flooding. But over the course of time the embankments became unstable and in the 1990s the neighbouring cantons began a renovation project to improve flood security. After more than ten years of planning and five years of construction work, the renovated Linth control system was officially inaugurated in spring 2013.

Implenia was one of the companies involved in the 100 million-franc project, taking charge of the section of the Escher channel between Vreneli and Linthbrücke. One of Implenia’s tasks was to strengthen the inside of the left embankment. Much of the outside wall, one of the few Swiss habitats of the Large Blue butterfly, had to be left alone. In the Chli Gäsitschachen area, Implenia experts also had to widen the river and design a nature reserve. The river returned to its original natural flow so that it could form gravel islands, river meadows and willow stands. Implenia also extended and renaturalised excavation pits, creating a habitat for fish, yellow-bellied toads and frogs.

Renaturalising the Linth Plain: Implenia experts have widened the river and designed a nature reserve in the Chli Gäsitschachen area.



Maintaining biological diversity

Sustainable construction also involves minimising impact on flora and fauna, so Implenia always tries to maintain biodiversity when it is at work. One way of doing this is to increase the proportion of green space designed into its own projects. Provision of as much dedicated green space as possible, allied to diverse planting appropriate to the site, has a positive impact on biodiversity. In heavily built up areas green roofs can help create a microclimate and provide a habitat for rare flora and fauna.

2.4.7 Tetrag supports sustainable operation of buildings

Almost half of the energy consumed in Switzerland can be attributed to buildings. This high proportion shows just how important energy reduction measures in buildings are. Tetrag Automation AG – a 100% subsidiary of Implenia – has long experience of systems designed to aid sustainable operation of buildings and facilities. Its integrated energy monitoring and alarm solution e3m is one of the biggest products on the market.

“We chose Tetrag because of its outstanding track record as a total contractor and its great expertise in energy management. Our high expectations were met in full.”
Ralf Kreienbühl, Energy Manager Swisscom (Schweiz) AG

Swisscom is just one of the major companies that use the system. The communications firm asked Tetrag to develop a turnkey energy monitoring system for its 67 energy-intensive data centres and telephone hubs. Tetrag was chosen because of its great expertise and experience as well as its ability to offer a complete package from metering to finished energy report. Swisscom’s aim is to increase its energy efficiency by 20 percent between 2009 and 2015. By identifying optimisation potential and monitoring the effectiveness of the measures, the energy monitoring system is making a key contribution to achieving this ambitious target.

“The energy efficient operation of sales offices is an important element in the implementation of Coop’s CO2 Vision. Without Tetrag’s professional energy monitoring system, our aim of becoming ’CO2-neutral by 2023’ would not be achievable.”
Thomas Häring, Head of Energy and Technology Total Store at Coop

2.5The Sustainable Construction Switzerland standard

Implenia played a leading role in developing a new national construction standard. During the period under review Implenia, together with other major stakeholders and investors, established the Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz (NNBS, Swiss Sustainable Construction Network) in order to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences as well as cooperation between construction professionals in the commercial and public sectors, education, politics and science. The aim is to create synergies that result in the positive development of the construction sector.

The Standard Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz (SNBS, Sustainable Construction Switzerland Standard) is based on the Swiss government’s sustainability goals and centres on specific national challenges like densification. Other initiatives, such as the 2000-Watt Society and Minergie ECO, have been integrated into the new standard, with these proven approaches augmented by economic and social criteria. In the meantime, the standard has been through a two-year development phase in which Implenia has played an active role from the start. The company’s experiences with the development and application of GeNaB® were very helpful here. A test phase, involving Implenia, was run in winter 2013 / 14. So how well does the standard work in practice? The company has investigated this at the “schorenstadt” development in Basel, and found that the standard can indeed be applied at a reasonable cost.

Now that it has been modernised by Implenia, the “Flurpark” office building in Zurich is ready for a sustainable future.



2.6Densification thanks to modernisation

The renovation of old buildings offers enormous market potential and can also play a significant role in sustainable development, densification and better use of existing properties. Implenia previously worked in this area on a fragmented, regional basis, but now the company is building up more cross-regional, multidisciplinary expertise and aims to bring this greater power to bear on the market. The first interdisciplinary modernisation teams have been at work in the Basel, Aarau and Zurich regions since 2013. Residential densification is becoming increasingly important, and wooden construction can also make a significant contribution because of the lightweight construction methods it facilitates when adding storeys to existing buildings.

2.7Suppliers as partners

Working sustainably also means that our business partners have to step up to the plate. As a general or total contractor, Implenia awards large volumes of work to suppliers and subcontractors. Around 70 to 80 percent of turnover is accounted for by such third party contracts.

As part of its effort to forge long-term partnerships, Implenia developed a multi-stage supplier management system during the period under review (see illustration), which it launched at the beginning of 2014. It requires business partners to declare the actions they are taking on environmental, employment, health and safety, risk management and compliance matters. All new suppliers have to go through a prequalification and answer a questionnaire on various aspects relating to these areas; their answers feed into the subsequent evaluation of a possible collaboration. Examples of questions relating to the environment and health and safety are: “Is your company certified under OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001 or EMAS?”, “Do you train your employees in health and safety at work, and if so, how?” and “Have you implemented your own Code of Conduct?”

Implenia’s supplier management system creates greater transparency and a basis for long-term, fruitful collaboration with partners who have a common understanding of the fundamental values. The system also allows Implenia to identify trends early on. Purchasing volumes can be concentrated on suppliers that have made a positive impression. If negative signals emerge, appropriate measures can be taken. In addition, if partners are integrated early into Implenia projects, risk factors can be identified and managed more effectively while synergies can be exploited in the procurement of goods and services. Implenia’s ultimate aim with the new system is to ensure all companies throughout the value chain make a greater contribution to increased sustainability, for example by actively providing innovative, sustainable solutions and using environmentally friendly materials.

Discussion about
Implenia’s new
supplier management


Customer complaints


2.8Taking customer feedback seriously

Satisfied customers are essential to the long-term survival of any business. Implenia employs various means to find out how its customers view its services. As well as talking to them directly about their experience, Implenia carries out systematic surveys relating to complaints it has received and to customer satisfaction.

Written complaints are recorded and dealt with immediately by local staff. In 2013 the Buildings Business Unit systematically evaluated the complaints it received. Around two thirds of them related to issues with buildings, especially the construction, the fittings and the materials used (see chart). Most complaints come from homebuyers, and sorting out the problems, especially in apartment blocks, remains a challenge. Consequently, Implenia launched a project designed to improve the whole purchasing process.

Customer satisfaction
At the end of every project – and also during the process in the case of larger projects – Implenia uses a questionnaire to see how satisfied the customer is. Some of the questions are about the end result, and some about the whole construction process. Customers are also asked to give an overall rating for Implenia’s performance. In 2013, Implenia received 292 feedback forms from customers.

The 164 relating to the Buildings Business Unit showed high levels of satisfaction with its work (see chart). As in the previous year the unit achieved its target of at least 90% positive reviews. The commitment and expertise of the workers received particularly good ratings. Marks were not as high for sorting out problems, but pleasingly satisfaction in this area has gone up over the last two years (from 67% to 76%).

Another 128 customers filled in the questionnaires for other Business Units. They were most positive about the advice and support received and about the quality of execution. There were also good marks for sustainability and protecting the environment, as well as for construction site safety. The overall result of these responses was a very high customer satisfaction rating of 92%.


Interview with Beat Schwab,
Head Real Estate Asset Management at Credit Suisse


Customer satisfaction


2.9Achievement of goals 2012 /2013

Implenia wants its core business to contribute to sustainable development.


Goals for 2012 /2013

Achievement of goals


Advise customers early and comprehensively

  • Launch group-wide key account management
  • Initial successes achieved with key account management. Further
    work being done on group-wide approach.

Push ahead with the initiation and realisation of sustainable construction projects

Building Construction:

  • Work on one “Swiss Sustainable Construction Standard” project

Building Construction:

  • Active involvement in formulating the Swiss Sustainable Construction Standard as member of the Federal Office of Energy’s steering group (chapter 2.5)
  • Continuously check compliance with sustainability criteria in ongoing projects
  • “schorenstadt” project submitted as pilot project for the Sustainable Construction Standard (chapter 2.4.1 /2.5)
  • Keep developing and rigorously applying GeNaB®
  • 2000-Watt Society implemented in the schorenstadt project and planned for the “roy” project (chapter 2.4)
  • Rigorous application and checking of GeNaB up to Investment Com­mittee application stage leads to better project quality, “office use” category upgraded to more com­prehensive property assessment (chapter 2.3)

Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Construction:

  • Work on specific “Sustainable Construction in Civil Engineering and Infrastructure” projects

Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Construction:

  • Implenia’s expertise in raw materials and construction materials aids drafting of new SIA112 /2 standard. The norm is currently at the consultation stage (chapter 2.4.4)


  • Owing to difficulties working with the planned cement at the Gotthard base tunnel project, the switch was made to lower-CO2 types of cement. As a result, 33,000 tonnes of CO2 were saved over the construction period (chapter 2.4.5)
  • Implenia can have a positive influence on sustainability in the civil engineering and infrastructure sector by doing the following:
    • selecting sustainable civil engineering and infrastructure projects
    • choosing the right materials to build with
    • reducing energy consumption during construction by maintaining an efficient fleet of vehicles and equipment

Define and implement criteria for supplierss

  • Define, implement and
    review criteria for suppliers
  • Supplier questionnaire on environmental and health & safety matters formulated and implemented (chapter 2.7). Review begins in 2014.

Improve links between different Business Units

  • Make “Sustainable Overall Construction” a reality based on Implenia’s core competences
  • Comprehensive provision of sustainable services by various parts
    of Implenia at the “Neugrüen Mellingen”, “schorenstadt, Basel” and “roy, Winterthur” projects. (chapter 2.4, Title story chapter 2)
  • Make sure collaboration
    between different parts of the group is the norm

Goal fully achievedGoal partially achievedGoal not achieved

2.10Goals and activities 2014 /2015

Implenia wants its core business to contribute to sustainable development.


Goals for 2014 /2015

Activities 2014 /2015

Advise customers early and comprehensively

  • Deliberately apply our ex­pertise in sustainable construction when working with customers
  • Target projects for acquisition that are focused on sustainable construction and show customers the sustainability potential
  • Together with the client, work out solutions that fit the sustainable construction strategy
  • Use more wood in projects by expanding production apacity

Push ahead with the initiation and realisation of sustainable construction projects

  • Take a leading role in implementing the Swiss Sustain-­able Construction Standard (SNBS) and promoting the “2000-Watt Society”
  • Create a shared understanding of sustainable construction in civil engineering and infrastructure projects
  • Practical application of the SNBS at our “schorenstadt” project
  • Continue pushing implementation of the “2000-Watt Society” in projects
  • Refine GeNaB® criteria quantitatively and apply across all project phases
  • Back up understanding of what sustainable civil engineering and infrastructure projects involve with specific criteria and indicators

Define and implement criteria for suppliers

  • Work with forward-looking suppliers
  • Evaluate, select and develop suppliers using self-declaration and prequalification
  • Work out project-specific solutions with suppliers

Improve links between different Business Units

  • Use our capabilities (financing, sustainability planning, wooden construction) to build sustainable buildings
  • Building three “sustainable projects” based on Implenia’s core skills
  • Make sure collaboration between different parts of the group is the norm
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