OekoBusiness Vienna: environmental service package  for local companies

OekoBusiness Vienna: environmental service package for local companies

by Thomas Hruschka, Director of Sustainable Development, Environmental Protection, City of Vienna

DOI 10.12910/EAI2017-020

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OekoBusiness Vienna was launched in 1998 by the Municipal Department for Environmental Protection on behalf of the Vienna City Administration. To date, 1,185 companies have participated in OekoBusiness Vienna, implementing more than 15,000 environmental projects and actions. The success of OekoBusiness Vienna illustrates that the voluntary move to apply quality standards for sustainability that exceed legal requirements creates significant financial benefits

OekoBusiness Vienna is enshrined in the Smart City Vienna framework, the city’s long-term and holistic strategy to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The aim is to ensure the best quality of life for all of Vienna’s citizens and to save resources through comprehensive innovations. An important part of this aim is for companies in the city to do business in an environmentally sustainable way.


Philosophy and objectives

The purpose of OekoBusiness Vienna is to help companies generate “green and clean” profits through environmental management practices that benefit both the environment and the companies, ensuring financial rewards and high quality for each company.

OekoBusiness Vienna aims to:

•   Reduce the adverse environmental impact of economic activity through integrated environmental protection strategies

•   Improve the competitive position of Viennese businesses through more efficient use of resources (making full use of innovative potential and cost-saving opportunities), sustaining employment over the medium term

•   Strengthen the advisory component in the relationship between the city administration and the private sector

•   Contribute to the sustainable development of the City of Vienna

•   Encourage exchange of information, nationally and internationally, with city administrations and companies running similar programmes

•   Extend and support environmental protection efforts both nationally and internationally

•   Help move business performance, consumption, transport and administration in the City of Vienna toward greater sustainability.

Fig Inizio pag 115

Three steps to becoming an OekoBusiness company

OekoBusiness Vienna funds certain consultancy services to encourage businesses to take action to reduce their environmental impact and to improve their corporate social responsibility performance. In individual meetings, consultants develop solutions tailored to the needs of each business. There are three steps to this process.

Step 1

Consultants working within the OekoBusiness Vienna network conduct a sustainability check-up together with the company to find savings potential and identify fields where the company’s environmental and social performance could be improved.

Step 2

Based on the results of step 1, the company’s management can decide whether to participate in the programme and select a suitable consultancy module.

Step 3

Supported by tailored consultancy services and expert input, the company develops its sustainability project(s) and begins implementing them during the first year of participation. An independent commission assesses the progress made and decides whether to award the company the OekoBusiness Vienna distinction. All measures taken are documented in the OekoBusiness Vienna database, which can be accessed publicly ( available in German only).



… for the environment

A look at the results clearly shows that the environment is the real beneficiary of OekoBusiness Vienna. The following aggregate figures illustrate the effects achieved by businesses in Vienna since OekoBusiness Vienna was launched in 1998:

•   Solid waste output reduced by 124,910 tonnes

•   Final energy savings of 1.41 terawatt hours

•   400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided

•   Total transport mileage reduced by 96.4 million kilometres

•   Drinking water consumption reduced by approximately 2.678 million cubic metres.


… for each participating company

The voluntary environmental measures worked out in the context of OekoBusiness Vienna also boost the companies’ profitability. By implementing their environmental protection projects, OekoBusiness Vienna participants have been able to cut their operating expenses by a total of €135 million. Most investments in environmental protection pay for themselves in less than two years.

The effort to integrate environmental policies and measures in economic activities throughout Vienna is backed by an evaluation report by the Austrian Institute for Industrial Ecology.  About 98 per cent of participants in OekoBusiness Vienna rated the programme as “excellent” or “good”.

ÖekoBusiness Vienna
Businesses responded very positively to some of the programme’s strong points, including consultancy services, the incentive to make changes, the raising of environmental awareness, the opportunity for a systematic analysis of a business’s current situation, and the enhanced company image as a result of winning an award. The innovative impact of the measures proposed was also greatly appreciated by the participating businesses. The high-quality consultancy services provided by OekoBusiness Vienna have spawned a wide variety of new policies and measures.

In addition, the programme publishes a quarterly newsletter, which provides information on current developments relating to the programme itself and on outstanding measures and innovations by programme participants as well as relevant city news. OekoBusiness Vienna also offers networking opportunities to enhance exchange with other companies and consultants. The regular business breakfast in particular is very well received. Each breakfast is hosted by a different participating company, which can present its measures directly on site.


OekoBusiness Vienna partners

OekoBusiness Vienna is based on interaction and cooperation among all partners, which is a major success factor in the programme.

Public authorities, stakeholders and companies all work together on OekoBusiness Vienna to implement preventive and integrative environmental protection policies and actions that also benefit businesses’ bottom line. Public subsidies are granted for consultancy and training, and capital investments are made by the private sector, in some cases with support from additional public sources.

The major partners of OekoBusiness Vienna are:

•   Vienna Economic Chamber

•   Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management

•   AK Vienna (Vienna Labour Chamber)

•   ÖGB (Austrian Trade Union Federation)

•   WWFF (Vienna Business Promotion Fund)

•   Municipal Department 36 - Senior experts for the industrial code

•   Municipal district offices (local authority for business procedures)

•   Networking and cooperation among all partners helps to create a win-win situation for the environment and for businesses in Vienna. OekoBusiness Vienna supports the environment while at the same time contributing to economic stability and job creation.


International recognition

An important advantage of OekoBusiness Vienna is its universal applicability, which allows the programme as a whole, or individual aspects of it, to be implemented in other regions and countries. In 2004, five Austrian provinces (Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Vorarlberg and Upper Austria) began cooperating with OekoBusiness Vienna by using the database. Now all nine Austrian provinces offer environmental consulting services to businesses and cooperate in further development with OekoBusiness Vienna. The European Union has provided € 674,000 in support for various joint projects over the last 15 years. These funds were awarded within the framework of the INTERREG IIIA “Vienna-Györ” project, which focuses on energy efficiency and exchange of training between the Hungarian city of Györ and Vienna. Other environmentally conscious cities such as Athens, the capital of Greece, and Chennai (Madras), India’s fourth-largest city, are developing OekoBusiness programmes of their own, modelled on Vienna’s programme.

UN Habitat has included OekoBusiness Vienna in its Best Practices Database, which lists the best sustainability projects worldwide. Likewise, the European Commission regards the environmental service package of the City of Vienna as an example of best practices.


OekoBusiness stars

We have chosen to showcase four OekoBusiness stars to provide better insight into the programme and its successes. All of these companies have been part of OekoBusiness Vienna for many years. They have implemented innovative measures and have achieved outstanding success in reducing their environmental footprint, increasing financial savings and improving their image as environmentally and socially responsible companies.


Confiserie Heindl

Confiserie Heindl is a traditional Viennese family-run company, which produces fine chocolates and confectionery specialities at its production site in Vienna. All products are made at the highest technical level by experienced confectioners who love their craft. Confiserie Heindl uses only the best raw ingredients and traditional family recipes. The company has been certified IFS “higher level” since 2014 and is a partner of the fairtrade cocoa programme. All raw ingredients containing cocoa are fairtrade, and all other raw ingredients are regional ingredients from domestic suppliers as far as possible.

Selection of measures carried out through OekoBusiness Vienna since 2006:

  • Installed one of the largest private photovoltaic systems in Vienna with 130 kW peak; the system saves some 24 tonnes of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to a 10 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • All cocoa used in all products comes from fairtrade sources
  • Waste logistics and waste separation optimised: shipping boxes and pallets are returned to vendors and reused. Some 60 per cent of shipping boxes have been eliminated for deliveries to customers. The new packaging line saves around 553,792 metres of plastic film each year
  • Environmentally friendly paints used on packaging
  • Waste heat recovered from compressors is used to heat both the chocolate tanks (90 tonne capacity) and the approximately 500 metre long chocolate pipes and to supply hot water to the production facility
  • The new fresh-air ventilation system largely replaces energy-intensive and costly air-conditioning
  • A new light control system regulates or reduces electricity consumption throughout the new building
  • Ongoing employee training further contributes to success.



EVVA is an Austrian family company and one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of access solutions  –  in both the mechanical and electronic sectors. Since 1999, EVVA has implemented more than 150 environmentally sustainable projects supported by OekoBusiness Vienna to reduce resource consumption, reduce energy and waste costs, avoid waste, and recycle existing materials and water.

Selection of measures carried out through OekoBusiness Vienna since 2006:

  • Advancements in clean production (metal processing without the use of oil) made at EVVA through dedicated projects
  • Water consumption reduced: EVVA converted its electroplating and waste water system in 2008. Waste water is treated using vacuum evaporation and returned to circulation.  As a result of these measures, EVVA has cut water consumption by 80 per cent
  • Use of materials: Lock cylinders are manufactured using modular construction, which reduces material and storage costs
  • Innovative dry metal treatment introduced in the production line, which saves oil and enables waste material to be recycled 100 per cent
  • Photovoltaic system with a power of 120 kW peak installed, which reduces CO2 emissions by 20 tonnes annually.


Henkel CEE

Henkel is active worldwide with leading innovations, brands and technologies in three business segments: adhesive technologies, beauty care, and laundry and home care. The company has had a local presence in Vienna since 1927. It opened a central storage facility for detergents and cleaning agents in Vienna-Meidling in 2006. The Vienna head office is responsible for 32 countries in the Central Eastern Europe (CEE) region. Henkel CEE has taken part in OekoBusiness Vienna since 2007. According to their most recent corporate strategy, Strategy 2030, Henkel has set out to become three times more efficient in 2030 than it was in 2010, thereby saving resources.

Selection of measures carried out through OekoBusiness Vienna since 2007:

  • “Non-tower project”: Henkel was able to produce a detergent without an energy-intensive drying process for the first time
  • Fabric softener project: New ingredients are mixed in a cold process without compromising product quality. This significantly improved Henkel’s energy balance at the site
  • The washing performance of liquid detergents at low wash temperatures was optimised by using enzymes instead of petrochemical detergents.


20_QIart20_Fig Boutique Hotel
Boutiquehotel Stadthalle


Boutiquehotel Stadthalle

The Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is a green showcase in Vienna’s hotel landscape and has been taking part in OekoBusiness Vienna since 2001. The hotel is a prime example of the feasibility of innovative ideas that lead to new successes at different levels.

Selection of measures carried out through OekoBusiness Vienna since 2001:

  • The hotel was built using passive house construction, which has a zero-energy balance
  • Energy is generated by a ground water heat pump and photovoltaic and solar power systems
  • The breakfast buffet offers only regional and organic food
  • Waste separation and compliance with all environmental standards, such as those for electricity and water saving, are a matter of course
  • Lavender is planted on the roof in the inner courtyard to act as natural insulation
  • Furniture that is no longer used is given to employees or charitable institutions, or made available for free removal. Efforts to upcycle: some rooms have already been furnished.


N. 3 2019

Rivoluzione economia circolare

N. 2 2019

Energia dalle stelle - Scenari, opportunità, protagonisti

N. 1 2019

Insieme per l'innovazione La nuova sfida per Ricerca e Imprese

N. 3 2018

Cooperazione internazionale

N. 2 2018


N. 1 2018


N. 4 2017

Nucleare dal passato alle opportunità

N. 3 2017

La Sanità tra Scienza e Tecnologia

N. 2 2017


N. 1 2017

Smart city

N. 4 2016

Patrimonio culturale

N. 3 2016

Uomini e insetti

N. 2 2016

Efficienza energetica e vantaggi per lo sviluppo

N. 1 2016

Dopo la COP21 di Parigi