Business for Good: At Kingspan environmental sustainability and social responsibility are priorities

Business For Good | Thu 27 Jun | Author – Business & Finance
Kingspan staff Wellness team initiate health-focused challenges.

As a world leader in insulation panelling, Kingspan is hugely concerned with energy efficiency and the environment. We speak to Fergal Murphy, General Manager, Kingspan Insulation Ireland about the company’s CSR initiatives.

Q. Tell us about your Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives?

At Kingspan we take a broad view of the definition of CSR, focusing on our Environmental & Social responsibility. CSR is integrated into our core business and strategy. As a provider of insulation products we focus heavily on reducing energy demand of the built environment. Additionally, our brand is synonymous with environmental sustainability across our entire product portfolio. Our social responsibility is equally as important. Our current operations implement our policy of Product, Planet and People. We are committed to ongoing product development and innovation, ensuring that all of our facilities worldwide are Net Zero Energy by the year 2020 and our dynamic and motivated workforce is key to the future growth of our company.

Our Environmental Responsibility

According to McKinsey Global Institute, building insulation technology is the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions. At Kingspan Insulation we believe in the Fabric First approach – getting the best performance from the materials that make up a building. As building design moves towards NZEB, our focus is on energy reduction in highly efficient homes and commercial buildings.

In 2011, Kingspan embarked on our own initiative, committed to ensuring that all of our facilities worldwide are Net Zero Energy by the year 2020. We recently entered into a partnership with Eco Alf Foundation which aims to use 500 million recycled plastic bottles per annum in our insulation products by 2023. Our target is to double this to one billion bottles by 2025.

Our Social responsibility

With regards to our Social Responsibility, we look internally and externally with our key stakeholders. We are committed to providing a safe, enterprising and exciting workplace for all our employees. We run several initiatives at our Castleblayney facilities. We have active health, safety and wellness programs in place across all our sites.

We are proud members of Guaranteed Irish, the not-for-profit business membership organisation that represents over 600 businesses in Ireland, and bear the Guaranteed Irish symbol in recognition of our commitment to supporting the local communities in which we operate. We support both small- and large-scale sporting teams in our communities and have been involved with Cavan GAA since 1995 and Ulster rugby for the last 5 years. Recently we supported Cavan GAA in their smoke-free initiative which was launched at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Q. What inspired your CSR initiatives?

At the heart of Kingspan, our tradition and history are rooted in the small communities of rural Ireland. Today, we are a global player and a recognised worldwide leader in energy efficiency and insulation technologies. Our philosophy – Product, Planet and People – is fundamental to our business. Our company is about the people, the teams who develop our product, who run our production facilities and who interact with our customers, helping us to continue to develop and produce product and systems to reduce the carbon footprint of the World’s Building stock.

Q. Describe why you chose this particular sector/area. How does it relate to your company and/or brand?

We supply a product which reduces the energy demand of a building when put in place. The next logical step is to reduce the energy used to manufacture the product, contributing to a product with a lower energy footprint. As part of the Kingspan Group we are in line with our overall target of achieving 100% Net-Zero Energy by 2020. At the end of 2018 we had achieved 75% of our Net Zero target. Sustainability is at the core of all our activity in Ireland and globally.

Q. Describe what you are doing to help.

Our goal is to help build a more sustainable future by delivering positive environmental and social outcomes for all our stakeholders, and by proactively leading the corporate response to climate change. We will continue to actively engage with and make positive contributions to the communities we belong to. Kingspan employees continue to volunteer with Junior Achievement Ireland, helping to educate and inspire young students.

Q. Has your vision grown since you started?

We continuously look at ways of improving the performance of our products and their contribution to energy reduction. We believe that it is crucial to minimise energy use as a first step in the process and have invested in energy efficiency projects.

Q. How do you think implementing CSR has benefitted or improved your business?

Integrating CSR into our long-term strategic plans has allowed a very clear pathway to implementing our social and environmental responsibilities. This drives us to manage and measure CSR activities across all levels of our business.

Q. How do you involve/include all employees in your CSR initiatives?

The vision of our wellness team is to encourage fun and participation, and to challenge and to highlight the importance of health and wellness. Our wellness team have orchestrated several initiatives including the Step Challenge. This initiative was to engage employees in a fun, healthy 4-week walking challenge. Our combined number of Steps after 4 weeks was a massive 39,137,061.

We recently celebrated ‘National Workplace Wellbeing Day’ and our employees took part in an 8-week Healthy Eating & Exercise programme.

Q. Do you have any employee-led CSR initiatives?

We encourage our employees to lead and participate in many of our CSR initiatives. We do this in several ways – through community funding, through community volunteering and through partnerships with schools and colleges. Members of our team work with local schools in a programme that addresses key educational issues, including tackling school retention rates and fostering a pipeline of talent and training educators. The programme creates a positive impact for students with high barriers to employment including offering work experience, mock interview skills and mentoring.

Q. Do you have any advice for companies who are just beginning to implement a CSR strategy?

Leverage your core business, service or product in a socially responsible context. There are many ways to give back and participate within your community. Align your CSR policy with your long-term business strategy.

Business for Good

Business & Finance, in association with Aviva, recognises the efforts of companies attempting to create meaningful social change through effecting strong Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.