Research hand in hand with sustainability

Our perception of sustainability

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and has far-reaching implications on various areas, including research and development. Resource efficiency and sustainability are becoming increasingly important – also in the research landscape.  With our focus on applied research, we are at the beginning of the innovation chain. In this position we have a special responsibility, as a multiplier for the implementation of greater sustainability in industrial manufacturing.

Securing technological sovereignty is an important prerequisite for social and economic sustainability in Germany and Europe and a strategic goal for the Fraunhofer EMFT. We make an important contribution to this by developing innovative and forward-looking technologies and translating them into applications. In doing so, we work closely with partners from industry and other research institutions and actively participate in joint bodies and initiatives, for example BCA.

For us and our team of over 150 employees, acting sustainably means addressing the issue intensively and holistically. We are continuously working on permanently integrating the ecological, economic and social aspects of sustainability into our activities - both in daily institute operations and in our research and development topics. We are on the right track and can also move even more within the company - to become a little more sustainable every day.

Research with Responsibility

Sustainability, climate and environmental protection are integral components of our strategic orientation. To this end, we have launched a transformation process to firmly anchor meeting these global challenges in our corporate culture. Sustainability concerns us all, and everyone can contribute to it.

In our institute operations, we focus on energy efficiency, climate protection and resource conservation. We optimize the operation of the buildings and our daily activities in clean rooms, laboratories and offices to this end. A major lever is the respective, consistent orientation of upcoming strategic building projects. The sustainability in our mobility in the course of our work is also considered here. Another aspect is maintaining employee satisfaction and creating a healthy working environment for all employees.

In our research projects, we are committed to innovative ideas and topics that can make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This objective is clearly reflected in the selection and definition of our strategic research fields. These include research into new technologies and solutions for securing food availability through sustainable agriculture, climate-friendly production processes in microelectronics or innovative solutions for affordable medical care in the future, among other things.

We have defined concrete measurable goals and initial measures for these strategic topics for sustainable action in our research operations. We will regularly monitor the achievement of goals and implementation of measures and communicate them transparently - both internally and externally.

How we aim to achieve our sustainability goals in our institute operations

Energy efficiency

The energy consumption of research operations in Fraunhofer EMFT's clean rooms and laboratories accounts for the largest share of our carbon footprint. Reducing energy requirements in this area is therefore our top priority. The measures initiated for this purpose include:

Ressourcenschonende Infrastruktursensorik im Reinraum der Fraunhofer EMFT
© Fraunhofer EMFT / Bernd Müller
  • Optimization of our production processes through load-controlled ventilation systems
  • Clean room operation adapted to a research environment with reduced energy consumption during off-peak hours (weekends, nights)
  • Conversion to LED lighting
  • Establishment of an energy monitoring infrastructure
  • Switch from stand-alone PCs to energy-saving laptops
  • Enabling mobile work
  • Purchase of electricity from renewable sources
  • Use of energy-efficient equipment
  • Reduction of office energy consumption through mobile working
  • Training our employees in the use of energy in their daily work
© Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
© Hans Reniers / Unsplash

Climate protection

To reduce emissions of air pollutants in cleanroom operations, state-of-the-art burner/scrubber systems are being integrated into the infrastructure. To reduce emissions from business trips, these are to be planned primarily by rail, and for unavoidable trips with the institute's company car, electric mobility is deployed.

Resource conservation

To conserve resources in everyday work, digital filing and paperless offices are being pushed. All employees are encouraged to print documents only when necessary, and all printers are equipped with recycled paper. 

Waste management

We align all our processes with sustainable standards and focus on resource-saving and waste-avoiding solutions in all areas of our research and development. The existing process for waste separation and disposal from all institute operations is to be expanded in the direction of procurement in order to avoid unnecessary disposal through targeted needs-based procurement of materials.

The Fraunhofer EMFT employees in 2022
© Fraunhofer EMFT / Marc Müller

Employee satisfaction as a key indicator for social sustainability

Our employees are our most important resource. It is therefore important to us to understand their views and needs and to create conditions in which they can work as safely, efficiently and without unnecessary disruptions and stress factors as possible. Increasing employee satisfaction is a strategic goal for Fraunhofer EMFT. Regular employee surveys serve as a basis for continuous improvement of working conditions at the institute. Examples of measures already introduced include tailored coaching and training as well as the options for mobile working, which are available to all depending on their respective personal situation.

Sustainable mobility

Times are changing - also with regard to the mobility of our workforce. Whether by bike, train or e-car, environmentally friendly mobility is also an important issue at Fraunhofer EMFT. That is why we promote various offers such as the EMFT Dienstrad (company bike) or the Jobticket (job ticket) and recommend that our employees use public transport for business trips and commuting to the workplace wherever possible.

Overall, these measures are an important step towards sustainable mobility and help to create a more environmentally friendly working environment. At the same time, we want to encourage our employees to make environmentally conscious choices and reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Master's thesis: Methodology of Life Cycle Assessment using the example of a comparative analysis of three film coating processes.

Jennifer Goldbrunner, Master student at Fraunhofer EMFT
© Fraunhofer EMFT / Elisa Göbel
Jennifer Goldbrunner, Master student at Fraunhofer EMFT

Jennifer Goldbrunner focuses on the central theme of sustainability in her master's thesis at Fraunhofer EMFT. Using the innovative methodology of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), she conducted a comparative analysis of three different film coating processes. LCA allows for the evaluation of environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of a product or process, from raw material extraction to production and disposal.

Through her thorough analysis, we gain valuable insights into the sustainability of these processes and can identify potential optimization pathways. Her research opens the door to a deeper understanding of environmental impacts and creates opportunities for innovative approaches to the sustainable design of this important process.

In the following interview, learn more about her personal motivation, the sustainability aspects she examined, and the challenges she encountered during her master's thesis.

>> To the interview

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