The N. word has long fallen into disrepute, but an adequate replacement for the old German word sustainability was not found at the IHK’s N. festival either. After all, 1,400 entrepreneurs and self-employed people accepted the invitation and caused a lot of hustle and bustle and a good atmosphere in the foyer of the chamber headquarters on Fasanenstrasse on Thursday.

“Fascinating,” said the Honorary President of the IHK, Alba boss Eric Schweitzer, the response. Schweitzer took the opportunity to take a stand for waste separation, especially organic waste collection. If all organic waste really only ended up in the bin provided (“30 to 40 percent waste”), so much biogas could be produced that 50 percent of natural gas imports from Russia could be substituted. It’s all a question of sustainable behavior in everyday life.

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The most prominent speaker was Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens). With verve, almost defiantly, she called for sustainability to no longer be discussed on an abstract level, but to be transferred to reality. For this purpose, politicians want to create the structural framework and resolve concrete conflicting goals between nature conservation and energy generation – keyword new wind turbines -, between climate protection and tenant protection – keyword energetic renovation. She was “wildly determined” to use the “kick” of the Ukraine war – as terrible as it is – for the expansion of renewable energies.

Your plea for the mobility turnaround – specifically against the expansion of the city motorway and for less car traffic in the city center – was received with much applause.

Sustainability seems to be primarily female, said Jarasch at the beginning of her speech. Up until her appearance, it was mainly women who took the podium, especially the Sustainability Council of the IHK, which is actually called the “Network for Corporate Responsibility”. Four entrepreneurs want to advance the topic, both within and above all outside the IHK: Antje Meyer from the communications agency orangeblue has taken over the chair. Whereby sustainable social and economic considerations should also be considered, because without employees and stable sales, avoiding carbon dioxide does not help either.

The podium on the role of Berlin companies in the transformation of the economy brought together a wide variety of actors. Sandra Jost founded DexLeChem in 2013, which operates “green chemistry”, i.e. devises environmentally friendly processes for the production of chemicals.

Berlin is at the top when it comes to chemical research, said Jost, even if there is comparatively little chemical industry at home here. The chemical industry is elementary for many products, but still works primarily with fossil raw materials and fossil energy, although there are better methods.

In Germany, for example, ammonia is still being produced using a process that is almost a hundred years old and consumes far too much energy. However, the discussion about the “transformation” of the industry is less about new processes, said Jost, and more about replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. “It’s crazy.” Sustainability is a “mega-topic” and means drawing from a large innovation pool – “they have to go to the core of their value creation”.

Martha Marisa Wanat, head of Bicicli Holding GmbH, advises companies on how to make their mobility more low-emission. She prophesies a “return to company housing” as it was built 100 years ago by entrepreneurs like Siemens. Even then, it was a question of locating the employees close to the plant in order to save them long journeys. Today this is called traffic avoidance. Company apartments could also play a major role in the increasingly tough competition for skilled workers.

Many companies were able to present their sustainability projects in smaller formats, including the global company Amazon, which alongside Google is one of the really big providers of cloud services.

Jonas Bürkel from Amazon Web Services (AWS) explained that moving data and programs to the cloud already means significant energy savings because the data centers of the large Internet companies work much more efficiently than the servers in their own company. AWS also offers many programs and best-practice models that companies can use to calculate and optimize their resource consumption.

Traditional companies such as Berliner Salzenbrodt GmbH, founded in 1909, with their shoe care brand Collonil, have long been concerned with sustainability, as sales manager Carsten Gövert emphasized. From the packaging to the ingredients, the care products have been changed, which is also what the customers demand. For example, the Parisian fashion company Cartier sent two inspectors to the company before orders were placed.

Flughafen Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH is now also working with the company to achieve ecologically responsible impregnation of its stone floors. In this case, the topic of sustainability even led to a new business area.