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THE GREEN BUILDING FROM KERAKOLL, COMBINING INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY.
The gamble has been on producing sustainable buildings, and this is a business which managed to overcome the crisis successfully, thanks to an innovative, sustainable approach and the very high quality of its products. The philosophy of the Kerakoll Group is to focus on research and innovation, alongside a policy of protection and reclamation and total appreciation of the companyâs heritage.
The group from Sassuolo has now been active in the field of green building for 40 years, and, thanks to these positive attributes, is now recognised as a leading player on the international scene. We asked Gian Luca Sghedoni, the CEO of Kerakoll Spa, to tell us what he thought were the companyâs strengths, and what challenges lay ahead.
What is Kerakollâs approach to growth?
The companyâs strategic vision is based on innovation, and continuous research into sustainable architectural solutions which help improve building construction and make the home a place of better living. Kerakoll has built up its competitive advantage on this basis. The construction sector is increasingly focusing on building solutions which are both of very high quality and at the same time sustainable. In this context, Kerakoll is seen as a cutting-edge business, able to offer a complete range of solutions to the market: solutions which are technologically advanced, but which also respect the environment and peopleâs wellbeing.
How have you faced up to the crisis?
During these difficult years, Kerakoll has managed the market very successfully. Our decision has been to continue to innovate with an eye to sustainability, in order to find solutions which are ever more compatible with the environment and the health of those who use our products. This has allowed us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and to continue to grow.
What is your annual turnover (according to the latest figures), and what quota of this is down to exports?
In forty years of operation, Kerakoll has enjoyed a process of development which has enabled it to transform itself from a leading company within Italy to an Italian company strong in Europe, and subsequently to a European group; still with an Italian essence, but orientated towards world markets. We export to almost all parts of the world, and exports account for 50% of our turnover, which amounted to 340 million Euros in 2012. We have a direct presence abroad, with factories and commercial branches in 12 different countries.
What role does innovation play for Kerakoll?
We at Kerakoll like to talk about sustainable innovation, and this means investing in processes and products, but especially in business culture. We want to offer the building community new services and new sustainable products, using a distribution network which in Italy consists of 8000 specialist shops.
What about the Kerakoll GreenLab, the Groupâs new Research and Development centre: is this a concrete example of your strategic vision?
The Kerakoll GreenLab was constructed in line with the Groupâs vision of innovation, sustainability and architectural excellence, and provides a perfect example of cutting-edge technology and the use of sustainable materials. It is a real centre of knowledge and scientific expertise. From this point of view, we are among the best in Italy. Our country ranks right at the bottom in R&D investments, but our company invests 5.4% of its turnover in âGreen Researchâ and has created this cutting-edge workshop. It is a real centre of excellence and the workplace of 87 eco-building engineers, specialising in scientific medical research, technological development and quality control.
What are the aims of this experimental research centre?
The building contains 9 high-tech laboratories for developing Green Technology, and these are dedicated to various strategic areas of research, such as environmental impact, CO2 reduction, indoor pollutants, natural materials, VOC emissions, earthquake safety, and thermal insulation and soundproofing.
How, where and to what extent can you continue to grow abroad?
We already operate all over the world through our commercial branches and production companies. Many stars of international architecture rely on us for their projects, for example: Herzog & De Meuron for the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, built for the 2010 South Africa World Cup, or Santiago Calatrava for the Queen Sofia Art Centre and the âAgorĂ â in Valencia.
We are planning investments in production abroad, but not with the aim of outsourcing our manufacturing and manpower. Rather, we want to ensure that our development in those countries most of interest from a commercial point of view receives that support that only a direct presence can provide. Such support is absolutely essential in our sector, given the considerable impact of transport costs. Among the foreign markets of greatest interest to us, one is certainly Brazil. Here, we are making important investments in terms of infrastructure, also looking ahead to the forthcoming Olympic Games and football World Cup, both due to take place in 2016.
What are your short and long-term plans?
Our expertise in a wide range of disciplines will be increasingly focused on responding to the new requirements of architecture and the construction industry: requirements in terms of technology, safety, and energy efficiency, as well as breathability, design and aesthetic appearance. In the not too distant future, we will be producing a home with an instruction booklet. In this, we will outline all the Green Building devices we have used in terms of advantages to health and the environment, as well as solutions for saving energy, for soundproofing and for earthquake protection.