Environment considerations form a key part of the business model at Audi.
Established 12 years ago, the Audi Environmental Foundation plays an important role in the brand’s holistic approach to business – with sustainability and environmental protection key components of everything Audi does.
Isabella Bigler, Patricia Jell, Patrick Morda
Sebastian Copeland and AUDI AG
28 January, 2022
“Since industry is one of the catalysts for anthropogenic climate change, it’s only logical that it has a key role to play in providing solutions"
Doing things more efficiently, pursuing net zero emissions across its entire business and actively helping to protect the environment are all key ingredients in Audi’s business model. Producing more efficient, innovative technology might be the most familiar side of the way Audi operates, but its dedicated environmental arm, the Audi Environmental Foundation has been busy working on projects of its own that compliment the brand’s philosophy.
The man at Audi charged with focusing on the environment is Dr Rüdiger Recknagel, heading up the Audi Environmental Foundation as well as serving as Head of Environmental Protection for the Audi Group.
“The decision to establish the Audi Environmental Foundation 12 years ago attests to the Four Rings’ commitment to protecting the natural world,” says Recknagel.
“Since the Environmental Foundation regards innovative technologies as instrumental to building a sustainable future, we act as a spark plug for their creation. One of the areas we focus on in our work is promoting greenovation projects to conserve natural resources.”
“Since industry is one of the catalysts for anthropogenic climate change, it’s only logical that it, too, has a key role to play in providing solutions. Industry is capable of developing and deploying the technologies needed to achieve net carbon neutrality¹ in the future. As a responsible business, Audi is committed to playing its part.”
Polar researcher, photographer and speaker, Sebastian Copeland, agrees with Dr Recknagel that industry has an important part to play in protecting and promoting the environment. The award-winning adventurer has reached both the north and south poles on foot and in his partnership with Audi, an exhibition of his photographs was part of the brand’s 2021 Greentech Festival booth.
“The fact that a car manufacturer like Audi has announced that starting in 2026 it will only launch new models with electric drive systems on the global market is an important development,” says Copeland.
“Net carbon neutral¹ transportation along with carbon capture, a carbon tax and sequestration - which entails depositing it into the subsoil - are critical to preserving the environment,” he says.
But while people tend to equate environmental protection with limiting carbon emissions, Dr Recknagel doesn’t feel that goes far enough.
“By 2025, we project our core plants in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Brussels, Györ and San Jose Chiapa will be net carbon neutral¹. Our second goal is to reduce water use. We plan to increasingly curtail the use of drinking water in production going forward by using rainwater and circular economies. Our third focus is on conserving resources. We have set ourselves clear targets to not only minimise packaging materials, but also maximise material recycling in our production. The fourth key pillar in our environmental program is promoting biodiversity by implementing or further expanding such projects at all core Audi production sites.”
While people tend to equate environmental protection with limiting carbon emissions, Dr Recknagel doesn’t feel that goes far enough
“Even a company like Audi is only a small part of the big picture"
There is no single or simple solution, but rather a series of ongoing strategies that deliver results over time. Audi has already enjoyed considerable success according to Dr Recknagel, demonstrating that every effort counts.
“Compared to what emission levels at our core plants would have been without the measures we have taken, we have already made good progress toward achieving net carbon neutrality at our plants. Thanks, for instance, to the photovoltaic systems on the roofs, production at our Brussels plant, for one, has been net carbon neutral¹ since 2018. Another example is the Audi site in Györ, Hungary. With over 36,000 solar cells covering more than 160,000 square metres, it is one of the largest PV roof systems in Europe. What’s more, a geothermal system provides over 70 percent of the plant’s heating needs. With green electricity and other interventions, we have also moved the needle quite a way at our plants in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and San José Chiapa in Mexico. In fact, Ingolstadt has been powered by electricity from renewables since 2012.”
“The Audi Environmental Foundation’s role in motivating people cannot be overstated. No one can save the world on their own,” says Recknagel.
“Even a company like Audi is only a small part of the big picture. The important thing is to do something, make the right decisions and contribute in some way.”
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