In the face of global climate change and increasing scarcity of mineral oil and natural gas deposits, Wilkhahn is backing maximum energy efficiency and virtually CO2 neutral production. To this effect, a joint venture was started with a local farmer in 2007 and the Wilkhahn Energie GmbH & Co. KG was founded. 2008 a highly modern combined heat and power unit has been producing both electricity and heating energy at the main production site in Bad Münder, Germany, that was used in production and administration buildings. It is powered exclusively by renewable raw materials. Wilkhahn was thus able to achieve a virtually CO2 neutral total energy balance.
With an average running time of 7,500 hours with 3,000,000 kilowatt hours, the power unit produced approximately the annual electricity requirements of Wilkhahn, and, at the same time, the resulting waste heat was directly used as heating energy. The power unit thus has an efficiency level of 82 %. However, the best part was that vegetable oil was used as fuel instead of oil or gas: during the combustion process not more CO2 is released than was previously absorbed by the plants.
In December 2012 the company suffered a severe blow. The combined heat and power plant that was driven by vegetable oils came to a permanent standstill due to a technical fault. As a result, the proportion of renewables used at the Bad Münder headquarters dropped to 42% of 52% in 2013 – but it was still a very positive contribution to climate protection. However, we’ve had to adjust our ambitious climate-protection target due to the failure of the combined heat and power plant. In the future, we’ll be endeavouring to obtain 50 per cent of the energy used at the Wilkhahn headquarters in Bad Münder from renewables.
Material-friendly furniture design
Our design principles are based on the Less is More maxim. At the developmental phase, we’re already looking at how to minimize the material required. The goal is to make handling easier and save resources too. What’s more, when making our furniture, we only pick materials that meet strict standards. And it goes without saying that no prohibited chemicals are used. Way more than half of the materials come from German suppliers and a third from specialized partners in Europe. Only a small proportion of materials are sourced from countries far away overseas.
In view of global climate change, water’s a resource that will play an increasingly important role in future. In terms of its environmental impact, waste water is also a key issue. At Wilkhahn, we make every effort to minimize consumption of this valuable resource. We treat process water, practice recycling and use state-of-the-art varnishing machinery. As a result, no waste water is produced during furniture manufacture that requires monitoring. To curtail the environmental impact, all other waste from the production and management departments is sorted according to type.