With five business streams across 159 manufacturing sites in over 70 countries, Kingspan is a leading global manufacturer of products for the building industry.
Rooted in a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation, the organisation recognises its responsibility not only for its own success, but also for a broader contribution to sustainability. Kingspan’s Planet Passionate programme will demonstrate how a diverse global organisation can focus its resources on achieving clearly defined targets to “make building better”.
Back in the early 2000’s, Kingspan’s CEO Gene Murtagh recognised the compelling arguments for combatting climate change. For Kingspan’s product development programme this means focusing on the performance of its products in use, but for the organisation it also requires a radical rethink of its own business operation.
In 2010 Kingspan launched its Net Zero Energy initiative – a 10-year challenge to the business to match 100% of its operational use through renewable energy and renewable energy certification. With the company on track to achieve this milestone (90% in 2019 and set to achieve 100% of target in 2020) Planet Passionate was conceived as the next, more ambitious, programme to further develop the organisation’s demonstrable environmental achievements.
Like its predecessor, Planet Passionate is a 10-year programme, launched in 2019 and operational from 2020. The timescale reflects the challenge: it takes time to introduce radical change across a large organisation, but allowing too much time may constrain any sense of urgency.
Working with partners such as the Ellen McArthur foundation and the World Green Building Council, Planet Passionate is focused on four specific areas for improvement:
Within these four broad ambitions are twelve quantifiable and measurable targets with definite delivery dates. These include: increasing direct use of renewable energy to 60%; 1 billion PET bottles to be upcycled into insulation by 2025; 100 million litres of rainwater to be harvested by 2030; zero emission ready company cars by 2025.
Effecting real change requires genuine commitment and personal accountability.
The targets set in Planet Passionate are demanding and there is no established pathway to achieve them. Instead, the programme requires every business unit to embrace innovative thinking to challenge established practices and devise new ways of working.
Success relies on a pioneering spirit and a belief that there are solutions to every barrier. It relies on Kingspan’s culture of collaborative innovation to develop solutions.
Championed by the CEO, there is a clear “golden thread” of responsibility. The project management structure established for the Net Zero project has been expanded to reflect the scope and number of new targets. Managing Directors of each division take personal responsibility for progress, with a supporting structure tasked with specific projects and encouraged to develop pioneering solutions.
Quarterly meetings, led in person by the Group Head of Sustainability, monitor progress and create a forum for free discussion. Following the pattern of the Net Zero initiative, milestones will emerge and the camaraderie and commitment of the close-knit project management team encourages the sharing of ideas and understanding.
Planet Passionate is a hugely ambitious endeavour, but the company’s absolute commitment to achieving its goals is clear. The management recognises a moral obligation to address the environmental impact of its operation but also anticipates a growing business benefit.
Climate change is no longer a remote academic argument. As every business recognises its own role, so market leaders such as Kingspan need to be ahead of the curve – developing the right products and simultaneously demonstrating how innovative thinking really can fundamentally change the way manufacturers operate successfully.