Environment and climate protection – 2021 sustainability report

Environment and climate protection – introduction

V-ZUG is taking measures to avoid, reduce and, where necessary, offset as far as possible the emissions generated through our business activities. We are investing in energy-efficient facilities and will switch to almost completely renewable energy sources in the future. 

Avoid, reduce and offset
In an effort to be CO2-neutral today, we offset our direct emissions (Scope 1) in full and our indirect emissions (Scopes 2 and 3) in part in collaboration with the Ripa Gar Foundation and in support of a reforestation project in Scotland. In particular to obtain a more holistic perspective of the 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions identified in accordance with the GHG Protocol, we conducted a screening in 2021. We will set future goals with regard to Scope 3 emissions on the basis of this; we aim to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 80 percent by 2030. 

Internal ecological incentive tax for CO2 emissions
We support sustainable business decisions with a voluntary, internal ecological incentive tax on CO2. V-ZUG and the companies in the Metall Zug Group pay CHF 120 per tonne of CO2 emitted into an in-house fund. This enables us to finance sustainable projects and initiatives, such as the expansion of the waste-heat utilisation concept or the additional costs for vehicles with alternative drive systems.

Renewing infrastructure
V-ZUG invests in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable sites, constructing environmentally-friendly buildings using innovative methods. Together with the Tech Cluster Zug, we set new standards in redeveloping our original site with the Multi-Energy Hub (MEH). For the new V-ZUG Cooling Technology Ltd building in Sulgen, the energy supply is also environmentally-friendly.

Life cycle assessment
In 2021, we created the first life cycle assessment for our three production sites in Zug, Arbon and Changzhou. We used the ecological scarcity method to calculate our environmental impact points (EIP). Based on this, we will be able to monitor how we achieve our targets in the fields of energy and resource efficiency more precisely in the future. 

Electrifying transport
We are keen to shorten transport routes and improve logistics processes. By 2030, we would like to replace our entire service fleet with electric vehicles. V-ZUG also believes hydrogen has major potential as an alternative energy source. 
Recycling waste
We make sure we create as little waste as possible in all our work processes. We endeavour to reuse all materials or to send them for proper recycling. 

Figure 15: Share of EIPs per site: Zug, Arbon, Changzhou. 

Environment and climate protection – goals

Environment and climate protection – key figures

No significant increase in CO2 emissions, despite parallel operation of buildings and processes
The direct and indirect CO2 emissions totalled 4,600 tonnes in 2021. CO2 emissions therefore remain at roughly the same level as the previous year. The reason for the 2% rise compared to 2020 is the increase in natural gas consumption in Zug (use of the “Zephyr hangar” as a new site for surface technology and testing the new system; parallel use of enamelling ovens and buildings). The gradual launch of the energy-efficient Sulgen site while production continued in Arbon did not have a significant impact on the increase in CO2 emissions.

The Zug production site has used 100% hydroelectricity for a number of years in order to promote the development of renewable energies. Correspondingly, the CO2 emissions are declared according to the certificate of origin (based on the market, according to reporting requirements in compliance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol). The emission factor used comprises direct (Scope 2) and indirect (Scope 3) emissions. To enable a comparison, the emissions of drawn electricity (location - based) are also identified in the GRI index, based on a calculation method developed by the University of Geneva. This is based on a model with real market data for Switzerland and an aggregate hourly load profile at the Zug site. This comparison helps in the discussion focussing on the recognised discrepancy between purchased electricity and electricity actually drawn.

Fig. 16: CO2 emissions (in tonnes of CO2

Only a slight increase in absolute energy consumption, despite growth and transformation
Absolute energy consumption at V-ZUG was 117.4 TJ in 2021. This can be broken down as follows: electricity (43.3%), natural gas (29.7%), biogas (0.03%), fuel oil (6.5%), as well as diesel (20.5%) and petrol (0.02%) in our vehicle fleet. In comparison to 2020, energy consumption increased slightly (+3.7 %) for the reasons mentioned above – not least because of the parallel operations in Arbon and Sulgen.

Fig 17, Energy consumption at V-ZUG by energy source (in TJ)

Environment and climate protection – stories

Transparent assessments
In 2021, V-ZUG compiled its very first operational life cycle assessments in Zug, Arbon and Changzhou. “We now know the impacts of our production on the environment,” says Marta Bribian explaining her work as Project Manager Operations. The new assessments are based on consumption figures from 2020. In the future, together with the product environmental assessments, we will quantify all environmental impacts caused by our production processes, products and services across the entire life cycle. “In doing so, we are adopting a holistic approach in order to be more resource-efficient,” says Environmental Officer Manuela Schneider-Hirth. 

The key goal in conducting the life cycle assessments is transparency. “We were very surprised, for example, by the resource consumption of packaging material,” recounts Jason Zhou, Managing Director of V-ZUG Special Components. Due to the fact that the material used at one site serves as packaging, while at the others it is treated as waste, possible improvements carry twice as much weight. With the help of the life cycle assessments, we can present the respective impact of environmental measures across all categories, for example energy, mobility and logistics based on facts. The software used for the life cycle assessments can also calculate the use of alternative materials, thereby favouring future-oriented decision-making. “In 2021, we set binding sustainability goals. In the future, we will focus even more intensively on reducing our environmental footprint in our strategies, projects and measures, ideally irrespective of operational growth,” says Marcel Niederberger, Head of Sustainability at V-ZUG, with conviction. 

Figure 18: Life cycle assessment at Zug (headquarters), 2021 

“We are pleased that we can provide V-ZUG with a new tool, in the form of the product and operational life cycle assessments. We firmly believe that V-ZUG will successfully incorporate the findings obtained into the decision-making processes and thus optimise the development and production stages.”

Mischa Zschokke, Senior Partner, Carbotech AG 

Energy from the sun and the ground
For V-ZUG Cooling Technology Ltd, 2021 was all about “packing boxes”. We were gradually able to move into the new Buran building in Sulgen, construction of which was completed in 2020, during the reporting year. Moving an entire production facility was somewhat more complex than moving home: “We can't just stop production in Arbon one day and pick it up again in Sulgen the next,” explains Andreas Albrecht, Managing Director of V-ZUG Cooling Technology Ltd. It is more a case of winding down and powering up in parallel over several months.

So what is different at the new site? “Our main focus is on temperature regulation,” explains Björn Weiss, Project Manager for the new build in Sulgen. The key element here is a groundwater well. By means of a highly efficient heat pump, we can provide CO2-neutral coverage for more than 95 percent of the heating requirements. We only need to cope with longer periods of cold weather in minus figures by calling on gas heating. And what happens if it becomes too hot around the refrigerators? “We cool rather than using air-conditioning,” stresses Weiss. “In the summer, we use the groundwater itself, channelling it into the heating elements.” This enables us to cool the production facilities and offices on hot days without consuming any additional energy. In optimum conditions, we can satisfy the energy requirements for heating and lighting by means of the 537 kWp photovoltaic system on the roof. 

But changes can also be seen inside the extraordinarily light building. Because our production facilities are in a single hall, our material flow is entirely linear. That means that the refrigerators move from one side of the hall to the other, covering almost no distance between the individual production stages. As a result, we can do without forklifts inside the building. At the end of March 2022, the Sulgen plant will be fully operational, “then we will finally be able to really bring the building to life,” says Weiss in anticipation.

Smaller environmental footprint despite growth
“I don't like talking about a flagship project,” says Tobias Frei, Project Manager for the Multi-Energy Hub (MEH) in the Tech Cluster Zug, “but in my opinion, a site development with a holistic energy solution of this magnitude is unique in Switzerland.” From 2022, the MEH will supply the Tech Cluster Zug with heat, cooling and renewable electricity, insofar as it intelligently interlinks the different energy sources in the grid. The MEH is operated by a joint venture between WWZ Ltd and the Tech Cluster Zug Ltd (Metall Zug Group).

We constructed the MEH's energy centre in autumn 2021 in the existing ZUGgate warehouse. In the future, two heat pumps will manage the energy flows from the internal waste heat, the heating and cooling requirements for the processes and building and the Circulago lake water network. They will also store excess energy in the groundwater. Once connected to the site network, the new energy supply will enable us to separate operational growth from our environmental footprint. This has demonstrated a juxtaposition between the life cycle assessments of 2020 and 2033: energy consumption driven by growth will increase by 60 percent while the environmental footprint will fall by 27 percent over the same period.

In the forecast, we mathematically replaced the environmental impacts of the current energy sources with those in the MEH. “This enables us, for example, to quantify the different environmental impacts of the future heat pumps and the current gas heating system,” says Carina Heuberger, Coordinator of Lean Management and Strategic Projects.

Figure 19:  Increasing energy requirement driven by growth, dissociated from the environmental footprint (in environmental impact points, or EIP). 

Contribution to SDGs 7, 9, 12, 13 
Climate change, environmental impact and biodiversity loss are global problems that affect us all. For the Tech Cluster Zug, V-ZUG is turning production on its head and reducing its footprint. Implementing eco-friendly building solutions creates innovative, sustainable workplaces. With groundbreaking projects such as the MEH, we are aiming to set a powerful example and inspire the development of similar initiatives. We are increasingly using more renewable energy both in Zug and in Sulgen. At the same time, we are optimising our processes and machinery to ensure that V-ZUG’s appliance production is efficient in terms of energy and resources. An internal CO2 levy is a targeted incentive for this. We offset any remaining CO2 emissions, and our offsetting contributions support reforestation in our own V-Forest project. As the forest grows, it will remove CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it for long-term storage, all the while helping to restore and permanently support biodiversity in an area heavily impacted by deforestation.