Spotlight on Social Responsibility
A number of topics were on the agenda last year: the ever-increasing need for mobility; the urgent need to protect the environment and work against climate change; necessary investments and innovations; strengthening Austria's economy and its position as a place to do business; sustainable management – and last but not least, the refugee crisis.
The expectations placed on an infrastructure provider are contradictory by their very nature. We have to be particularly responsible in weighing up different interests and demands. In 2015, we took important steps to better adjust our decisions to take account of economic, ecological and economic effects. Our existing sustainability programme was revamped based on the materiality principle, and was reinforced in the central corporate strategy and goals.
As a leading infrastructure company, we feel obliged to act in the interests of society and for the benefit of society. From 2012, therefore, ASFINAG has contributed pro-actively to the ‘United Nations Global Compact’, thus committing itself to ten of the principles defined under the Compact’s human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption sections. We will increase this commitment in 2016. Together with other organisations, we are pursuing the sustainable development goals that were agreed on in September 2015 by all 193 member states of the United Nations.
So let us issue an invitation to all our stakeholders: use one of the many opportunities for dialogue and contribution to help us in our quest for sustainable development.
Alois Schedl (responsible for sustainability in the Board of Management)
Comprehensive Sustainability Programme
In 2015, ASFINAG reframed its many sustainability activities. The focus was on the question of how we can get more people and goods moving on our roads more quickly and more safely, at the same time using fewer resources – and what ASFINAG can do to make this happen.
Numerous studies, surveys and stakeholder expectations were analysed and the many, often contradictory demands were evaluated according to the principle of materiality. The decisive factors were the possible impacts on the economy, society and environment as well as the significance of the relevant topic for the stakeholders. The result is a thematic map, representing the most important concerns and how they link together, which forms the basis of the sustainability programme.
ASFINAG contributes to sustainable development in Austria in three main areas:
- We create and secure jobs, insofar as we link together the areas of economic activity in Austria with a safe, available and customer-focussed road network.
- We are developing a resource-efficient and future-oriented transport system.
- We integrate our stakeholders in the process of creating sustainable mobility by making decisions based on respectful dialogue.
The aims for the next few years mirror the variety of tasks handled by ASFINAG. Traffic information systems and cooperation with public transport providers are being expanded; new procurement guidelines and an environmentally-sound attitude towards resource management should make building projects even more sustainable; habitats along the motorways are being better connected; and high on the agenda in the energy sector are improvements in efficiency, the possibility of generating renewable energy internally and the use of alternative drive systems. Furthermore, a test section for automated mobility is being prepared. The diversity management strategy and the partnerships with various stakeholders are being developed to ensure good internal and external cooperation.
An overview of our current sustainability goals can be found on our website.
Important contributions to Global Development
In September 2015, the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were signed by all United Nations member states. All forces in society – politics, the economy, science and civil society – will play their part in trying to reach important goals by 2030, from fighting against poverty, to stimulating the economy, to combating climate change. ASFINAG too will play its part in this.
With the current sustainability programme, ASFINAG is supporting twelve of the total of seventeen goals:
Through contributing towards strengthening Austria's position as a place to do business, building and maintaining safe, efficient roads that can withstand higher temperatures and more severe weather, and through its role as a reliable employer, ASFINAG is contributing towards achieving four of the goals (Goals 8, 9, 10 and 11). Further measures to protect the environment in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative drive systems contribute towards Goal 7.
With the resource-efficient measures, a cornerstone of the sustainability programme, ASFINAG is doing its bit to achieve Goal 12. It also works closely together with its stakeholders to increase its level of knowledge and its capacity for taking action against climate change (Goal 13). ASFINAG's focus on biodiversity ultimately helps to protect terrestrial ecosystems (Goal 15).
With its efforts to improve road safety, ASFINAG is also helping to make Goal 3 a reality: "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages."
Within the company, the diversity management strategy promotes gender equality and self-determination for all women and girls (Goals 5 and 10); and, of course, ASFINAG takes a firm stand against corruption (Goal 16).
More details about the sustainable development goals can be found on the United Nations website.
"As a Board member I am absolutely convinced that ASFINAG bears a huge responsibility – for our employees, for our customers, for Austria's position as a place to do business, for the environment and the society which we all live in. I am happy that within our company we live sustainability every day and at every level."
Member of the Executive Board, ASFINAG
The same thing is true for all important goals: They can only be achieved by working together! That requires an ever-closer cooperation between internal and external stakeholders. In 2015, ASFINAG expanded its stakeholder management policy, and among other things set up its own work group with the ÖBB to develop and agree on networking projects. That should lead to even better mobility offers.
The feedback on our previous work is encouraging: Customers have rated ASFINAG as "very good". The customer satisfaction index (CSI) and the performance index (PI) are important indicators for the level of satisfaction with ASFINAG's performance. With 77.9 points (+0.8) for the CSI and 76.8 (+1.9) for the PI, these values at the time of the last survey were particularly good. Just a few points higher and ASFINAG would have been given the rating of "excellent" instead of merely "very good". For this survey, the market research company IFES asked a total of around 1,500 people from various customer groups in spring 2015.
The level of contact and cooperation with the stakeholders is steadily being increased: In 2015, ASFINAG Service Center received over 520,000 inquiries, concerns or remarks, which were all processed, answered and presented to management in a consolidated form. Through this, our customers and other stakeholders have a direct link to management at any time and can have their voice heard. The inputs from the Service Center and from the customer survey go into developing and improving services. Some of the new projects put in place in 2015 included: ten new "premium points of sale"; improved signposting for toll stations; travel time information in real time at two border crossings; and additional parking spaces at park and drive facilities. Additional projects are in the pipeline for the next few years, such as the introduction of digital toll stickers.
In addition to the various instruments for continuous feedback and constant inputs, regular dialogues are carried out with selected stakeholders. The results are incorporated into ASFINAG's goals and strategies. This is why stakeholder management is handled in the "Strategy, International Matters and Innovation" department, and is also represented by members of staff in the sustainability team.
Further details on our stakeholder management policy can be read here.
"As a customer with limited mobility, I very much appreciate that ASFINAG doesn't overlook the requirements of customers with special needs. Travelling poses a particular challenge even for this relatively small section of the population."
Innovations bring Improvements for both Customers and the Environment
2015 saw new research projects being initiated, partnerships entered into, and innovative ideas supported and implemented:
A highlight regarding innovation was the "Arrivé" project: The travelling time between Vienna and Vienna Airport is constantly measured and published in real time across various channels (e.g. overhead direction signs, the ASFINAG app, asfinag.at). This leads to a much-improved ability to plan journey times. At the end of the year, a similar service will be implemented which shows waiting times at the border going into Germany.
A particular innovation in the construction industry was the use of a shipbreaker to dismantle the old Erdberger bridge on Vienna’s A 23 Südosttangente at the Prater interchange. This meant that the building time could be reduced considerably and that a number of HGV journeys could be avoided. In winter, some new salting techniques were tried out. So-called pre-wet salt will be used more often in future. Pre-wet salt sticks to the road much better, meaning less of it is lost in comparison to dry salt.
Proven innovations like, for example, the thermal scanner and acoustic tunnel monitoring were used on a greater scale in 2015 and new innovations were promoted. Examples of this are three weigh-in-motion systems for recognising overloaded HGVs, the development of a verifiable system of measuring the width of heavy and/or abnormal loads, and a research project looking into how vehicles can be used as mobile sensors. ASFINAG's commitment to supporting a test section for automated driving completes the list of innovation activities in 2015 and at the same time offer a view towards the major issues of the next few years.
Focus on reducing total energy consumption
In 2015, a work group created ASFINAG's first energy audit as proscribed by the Austrian Energy Efficiency Act (EEffG). The largest consumers of energy are the safety installations inside tunnels, the winter services with their fleet, and the motorway operation and maintenance facilities. An energy concept was developed based on the audit with a range of measures and ideas that should lead to energy being used more efficiently. They include changing to LED lighting inside tunnels and outdoors, studies of small-scale power stations using mountain water in the area around the tunnel, as well as the feasibility of using solar power and wind energy. In addition to this, it is planned to acquire vehicles with alternative power and to install extra electric filling stations at the motorway service areas.
The first suggestions are set to be implemented in 2016. The increasing demands of the various standards and road safety provisions (e.g. better lighting and ventilation in the tunnels) make energy savings more difficult. Despite this, it has still been possible in the past few years to keep energy requirements constant. Total final energy consumption in 2014 amounted to 188 GWh. At the same time, ASFINAG is also reducing its carbon footprint, since from the beginning of 2016 the total power consumption now comes predominantly from renewable energy sources.
Asylum seekers: a new challenge for ASFINAG
All of Europe, Austria included, was engulfed in a human tragedy in 2015. The thousands of victims of war in the Middle East currently hoping for a chance at a new life in Europe are not just a logistical or financial challenge but a socio-political one too. For ASFINAG, this meant three areas where we had to get involved.
Above all else, the main priority was safety. ASFINAG employees strived to make sure that the dangers along the well-known refugee and smuggler routes were minimised as much as possible. At certain hotspots, warning sign trailers were on hand to warn of people on the road and enhanced traffic control systems, traffic managers and en-route services were deployed. Likewise, ASFINAG set up special areas where refugees could be initially processed and accommodated. In response to the changed situation, the system giving information about border crossing times eventually had to be discontinued.
Sustainability reporting for the year 2015
This Annual Report with integrated Sustainability Report covers the financial year 2015 and ASFINAG’s areas of activity in Austria (previous report: 2014) It corresponds with the G-4 core guidelines of the "Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)", the world's leading standard for sustainability reporting. Details – in particular the GRI index, strategies and management approaches, example projects as well as additional facts and details – can be found at GRI-Index. Sustainability Officer at ASFINAG, DI Thomas Steiner, is available as a direct contact partner at: Thomas.Steiner@asfinag.at or +43 (0) 50108-0.
"Our sustainability report shouldn't be judged by how often the term "sustainability" is used. It should reflect our level of engagement in this field."
Sustainability officer at ASFINAG