Sustainability is one of the most important guiding principles of our time. The goal: to preserve the ability of systems to regenerate themselves and thus continually – i.e. today and tomorrow – answer the needs of humanity. Discussion regarding sustainability first arose in the field of forestry, fueled further in the 1980s by an international enquiry commission’s publication of the Brundtland Report and the Club of Rome. In 1992, Agenda 21 was published following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and finally, in 2015, 17 sustainable development goals were ratified by the UN as part of Agenda 2030 – including 169 subgoals and 232 global indicators (as of July 2017). Three pillars were laid down for ensuring the goals foster development around the world in a way that is environmentally compatible, socially just, and economically efficient. The German Federal Government’s sustainability strategy is based closely on Agenda 2030.
The guiding principle of sustainability is becoming increasingly important for many people in their everyday lives. The products and services we demand should be produced and made available in a sustainable way. We want the work we carry out on behalf of enterprises to be meaningful. Accordingly, companies increasingly gauge themselves by the extent to which they pursue sustainability goals and operate in a way that is not only economic and effective, but also environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Furthermore, it’s important to manage firms in ways that are sustainable in the long term. Sustainability management transcends a number of tasks pertinent to internal and external communication.
Speaking for myself, I have dedicated the research, development, and advisory services I have carried out for companies through the University of Kassel, Fraunhofer, and Steinbeis to an important subgoal of sustainability: the energy transition – shifting to renewables as a source of energy. This has involved considering the electricity, thermal energy, and transportation industries. Essentially, it’s about electrification of the thermal energy and transportation industries, in order to use photovoltaic equipment and wind turbines for energy supplies across all sectors of industry. An important prerequisite for this is a cost-efficient and robust infrastructure. Aside from focusing on energy provision, sustainability includes other aspects, too. This edition of Transfer Magazine shows the many ways in which the experts at Steinbeis have been involved in the guiding principles of sustainability in the work they carry out for their projects. I do hope it makes an interesting read!
With kind regards,
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Braun has held the chair of Energy Management and Power System Operation at the University of Kassel since 2012. He is also director of the department of Planning and Operation of the Future Power System at the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (Fraunhofer IEE). In addition to his work at the university and Fraunhofer, in 2017 he founded the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Renewable Energy Systems, which offers development and consulting services against a backdrop of the transition to alternative energy sources.