We think and act sustainably and holistically. In doing so, we take all facets of sustainability into account. Economy, ecology and functionality are inseparable for us.
We call this basic principle ‘the blue way’. It pervades our entire company – internally and externally.
‘the blue way’ combines reason and emotion. Stringent, goal-oriented processes that allow space for creative freedom. In our projects, we always include the creative right hemisphere of the brain and the rational left hemisphere. This results in holistic thinking.
Our cooperation is based on partnership and transparency. We have a financial focus. We want to grow and generate good profits. We share these earnings with our employees. ‘the blue way’ also governs our interaction with our clients.
‘the blue way’ milestones
1986 - introduction of building simulation
Spurred by the first oil crises of 1973 and 1979, we tackled the issue of energy consumption. We developed a mathematical model that simulates the energy consumption of a building – even at the project definition stage. As a result, our clients know how a building must be designed to minimize energy consumption even before planning starts.
1992 – Eco-management for Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
In 1992, Daimler AG commissioned us to develop and eco-management strategy for the construction of the Potsdamer Platz. It was to be an integral element of the project management.
Reduction of heat consumption
Optimal thermal insulation and the use of passive solar energy reduced heat consumption in Potsdamer Platz buildings. Sophisticated facade concepts with natural ventilation were used for all office buildings – including high-rises. The result are energy savings of up to 50 percent compared to conventional air conditioning systems.
Lower carbon emissions
The Eco team ensured the use of a cogeneration plant, which supplies the entire Potsdamer and the neighboring Leipziger Platz with power. Waste heat from the system meets all the heating and cooling needs. The result is a 75 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to the originally planned separate plant rooms.
Environmentally friendly building materials used
The Drees & Sommer team stipulated that ecological and healthy building materials had to be used for the most important trades. The result is a saving of more than 22 metric tons of HCFCs. The achievements of ‘the blue way’ were given retrospective recognition in 2012. The Potsdamer Platz became the first established quarter to be awarded the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) Silver Certificate.
1999 – ahead of its time – Drees & Sommer in Untere Waldplätze 11, Stuttgart, Germany
In 1999, the company took a new approach to saving energy in its new administrative building in Stuttgart, Germany.
Reduced heating demand, use of geothermal energy
A highly insulated façade and triple-glazing resulted in a massive reduction in the heating requirement. Heating and cooling pipes installed in the concrete slabs (concrete core temperature control) turned the slabs into huge radiators. The use of geothermal energy with boreholes about 80 meters deep reduced energy consumption to one-fifth of the current standard. Carbon emissions were halved.
Obere Waldplätze 11 is a pioneering building, pleasant and a model of ecology. It offers considerably reduced building operation costs without substantially increased overall investment.
Thanks to these characteristics, in 2009 the DGNB awarded it Gold certification in the New Building category – ten years after its construction! This was followed by DGNB Gold for Established Buildings in 2011.
2003 – Mature Project Communication System (PCMS)
This, too, is an element of the blue way’: Smooth cooperation between all project participants contributes significantly to the success and quality of a project. Efficient project organization saves all stakeholders both time and money. As a central platform, PCMS guarantees a standard data and document base. This ensures that the projects participants have ready access to all project data, in particular to planning documents, ensuring swift continued processing. Architects, principals, planners und contractors store their planning documents and minutes in the PCMS, allowing time-saving exchange of data.
2007 – Drees & Sommer becomes a founding member of the DGNB
The DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) was founded in Stuttgart in 2007. The aim was to promote sustainable building and to establish a certification system – the German Sustainable Building Certificate. The DGNB certificate recognizes buildings that are particularly environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, economically efficient and optimized for user amenity – typical requirements of ‘the blue way’. That is why it was essential for Drees & Sommer to help shape the DGNB as a founding member.
2008 – Green Building campaign
In numerous discussions with principals, property managers and politicians about sustainability and Green Building, we often hear same comment: ‘I am really interested in the subject, but know far too little about it to form an opinion and join the discussion.’
So we launched a campaign to close such gaps in knowledge in a simple and understandable way. It started with Expo Real 2008, followed by a whole series of presentations, client events, press releases, and the publication of the reference book Green Building. Thanks to our campaign, Green Building has become firmly established in the real estate industry. Today, sustainable building is considered an absolute must.
2010 – Optimization of established properties
Many established properties have one key flaw. They are excessively expensive to operate. High consumption values make the properties uneconomical. And gradually, the number of tenants declines. Measures must be taken to improve performance. But how can these be economically planned and implemented? A typical task for holistic solutions in line with ‘the blue way’. Because when it comes to complex renovation projects, it is crucial to keep the owner’s overall strategy front of mind. This is ensured by our tiered analysis, in which we combine possible options with a holistic perspective. We then recommend courses of action specifically tailored to the particular case, and implement the measures involved. A revitalized building must be more economical than before – only then does the strategy work in the sense of ‘the blue way’.
2012 – The Blue Way for the energy transition
In 2012, power consumption in Germany totaled approximately 600 million megawatt hours. Industry, trade and commerce accounted for some 44 percent, and transport and households for some 28 percent each. About 80 percent of the baseload is met by conventional means, namely nuclear power, coal, gas, and oil.
If around half of the electricity in Germany is to come from renewables from 2030 – and about 80 percent from 2050 – a holistic process is required. The key steps are listed below.
1. Reduction of consumption
- Efficient facades
- Use of geothermal energy
- Intelligent building services equipment
- Efficient lighting systems
- Energy monitoring
2. Energy generation
- Combined-cycle gas and steam turbine power plants
- Cogeneration plant
- Swarm technology (connection and control of many privately owned small power plants)
3. Energy storage
- Batteries that can store excess energy for hours, days and, if necessary, even weeks
- Use of excess electricity to produce hydrogen
4. Energy distribution
- High voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) for low-loss transmission of power
- Smart grids
‘the blue way’ means integrating the necessary measures into an overall process. Politicians must define this process and ensure financing of the necessary additions to the network. Industry must ensure that renewable energy sources become competitive. Such development requires a complete change of subsidies policy and amendment of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).
2015 - Digital Blue
The demands on buildings are increasing. They are required to be networked, energy self-sufficient, zero-emissions, healthy, integrated und flexible. One key element prevents them becoming true Blue Buildings: operating efficiency. Digital Blue integrates digitization. This results in better, more economically viable buildings – fully in keeping with the spirit of ‘the blue way’.
We achieve this, in part, through digital design with Building Information Modeling (BIM), as well as through modular construction and lean management. The Cradle to Cradle® approach also benefits from digitization. The material passport contains all relevant information on the materials and designs used in the project from a building ecology perspective.
2016 - Blue City – Integrated Urban Solutions
Around the world more and more people are living in cities. Many developments – which are often mutually exacerbating– are throwing up numerous challenges. The tasks involved require close cooperation between a range of disciplines. Factors to be taken into consideration include economic, ecological, functional, social and esthetic aspects of urban areas.
Energy, climate, resources, mobility, infrastructure, digitization, finance and society – all of these factors affect cities and influence urban life.
In the spirit of ‘the blue way’, we deliver networked solutions and integrate their individual components to create holistic approaches and concepts that are specifically tailored to our clients’ challenges.