Interview with Thomas Kleist: “At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, sustainability is very important “

Interview with Thomas Kleist: “At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, sustainability is very important “ 1920 1080 Südliches Überseequartier

Recycled steel for concrete reinforcement, wood from legally verifiable sources and low-carbon concrete are just a few examples of the ever-present sustainability concept in the construction of Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. As Senior Sustainability Manager at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), Thomas Kleist has been accompanying the project in HafenCity since 2016 and is responsible for technical building equipment and sustainability.

In our interview series, he talks about his field of activity, URW’s corporate social responsibility strategy, and ways to reduce CO2 emissions as early as the construction phase.

Watch the full interview here

Sustainability in permanent focus

In the project development of Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier, the team attaches the greatest possible importance to all-embracing sustainability. For example, the BIM (Building Information Modeling) working method is being used for the first time. In addition, the URW team cooperates with a CO2 consulting firm and compares the status quo of sustainable implementation of the construction project with the targets as part of monthly tracking. And these targets are quite ambitious: “We have an internal strategy paper at URW called ‘Better Places 2030’,” says Kleist, explaining the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy. In addition to a commitment to promote sustainable mobility and integrate local communities into business activities, for example, this also includes clear targets regarding emissions. “It defines the extent to which we want to reduce our Co2 emissions in both the construction and operation of all buildings.” Accordingly, URW reviews all building materials throughout the construction process in terms of their CO2 emissions, as well as their recyclability, and compares them to potential alternatives. “We are currently on a very, very good track to even ‘exceed’ the targets,” Kleist is pleased to report.

Leading the way: first certificates for the new quarter

The ambitious efforts of URW and Kleist’s team have already been honored by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), which awarded Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier the DGNB pre-certificate for sustainable building sites on June 10, 2021 – as one of the first four projects ever in all of Germany. For this purpose, DGNB checked compliance with numerous criteria at coordinated intervals before the start of and during implementation of the construction measures. These are grouped into the five areas of construction site organization, resource protection, health and social issues, communication with the local public and quality of construction. Upon completion of construction, the office buildings will also receive the DGNB gold award.

Further certificates are to follow: For example, all 14 buildings will be certified with the BREEAM Excellent standard upon completion. The certification stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and is considered an industry-wide recognized assessment system that has been in use since 1990. Construction is scheduled to be completed by fall 2023. Kleist looks forward to completion with anticipation, “That’s actually the best thing about a construction project, when you stand there on opening day and say to yourself ‘We’ve done that‘.”