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EU EMAS Award Winners 2014

The European Commission has announced the winners of this year's European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Awards. The six winning organisations showed excellence in applying innovative solutions to improve their environmental performance, thereby demonstrating the how innovation is an important step in creating a research-efficient economy.

Environment  Commissioner  Janez  Potočnik  said:  "It is a real pleasure to see the levels of creativity, excellence and engagement shown by the entries for the EMAS Awards 2014. Eco-innovation not only brings environmental benefits; it also makes business sense. So I am proud to congratulate all the EMAS Award winners for their outstanding eco-innovations. They are showing us examples of the creativity we need to start the transition towards a circular economy. Keep up the great work!"

The 2014 winners and their achievements are as follows:

Organisations from the private sector

Micro-organisations: VAS. & EK. KOTTARIDI G.P. (Greece) has developed a unique eco-innovation. They produce barbecue briquettes made from Greek olive pits. This EU-patented product is a renewable source of energy, free of chemical additives, and emits no carbon dioxide. These briquettes are not only the first green product of their kind, but are also produced in an innovative and environmentally-friendly manner from waste fuel.

Small organisations: HR Björkmans Entrémattor AB (Sweden), a proud green pioneer in the floor mat rental and laundry market, has developed an innovative mat washing system. The use of this closed system, with its low washing temperatures, special detergents and a water reuse rate of up to 98%, has resulted in sizeable energy and water savings. It has also led to significant reductions in the volume of used and contaminated water entering the municipal waste water treatment cycle.

Medium-sized organisations: Sächsische Bildungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH (Germany) uses EMAS as its point of reference to familiarise future skilled workers in the chemical and waste disposal industries with the concept of corporate sustainability. SBG’s innovative vocational teaching approach encourages students to transfer and reproduce EMAS skills and values, in addition to providing them with the tools to develop their own ideas for improving environmental performance. These students can then incorporate EMAS principles into their future jobs, bringing knowledge about environmental management to numerous different companies.

Large organisations: voestalpine VAE + Weichensysteme + HYTRONICS GmbH (Austria) were the first companies to apply a holistic life cycle approach to engineering, and specifically to producing turnouts (switches) for railway systems. Through intensive research and development work, VAE has optimised its use of materials and logistics, as well as the recycling of turnouts. Other best-practice initiatives include the adoption of a CO2-neutral energy policy and an insistence that the companies' affiliates adhere to global Human Systems Engineering standards.

Organisations from the public sector

Small organisations: Aeropuerto de Menorca (Spain), one of the airports managed by state corporation Aena Aeropuertos SA, has significantly reduced its total water consumption by re-using waste water treated in a membrane bioreactor plant. The airport has also achieved a significant reduction in electricity use by installing an innovative automatic climate and lighting control system.

Large organisations: Umweltbundesamt (Germany) is the German federal scientific agency for the environment. The first zero-energy public building in Germany, ‘Haus 2019’, was built for use by the UBA in 2013. The Haus's shell is completely airtight and it gets its electricity exclusively from renewable sources, including photovoltaics and a heat pump that obtains energy from pumped groundwater. Haus 2019 fulfils the EU legal requirements on energy efficiency for public buildings six years in advance, and will hopefully encourage others to follow.

Honourable mentions

While not granting them a full award, the jury identified two additional organisations whose eco-innovations were so impressive that they, too, were worthy of special recognition. The following organisations received honourable mentions from the jury:

Small private organisations: Druckerei Lokay e.K. (Germany) was established in 1932, was one of the first carbon-neutral printing firms. Over the past 20 years, the company has dispensed with the use of alcohol in its printing processes and switched to eco-inks and green energy. It has also developed the first comprehensive eco-friendly paper collection in europe, encompassing 45 different varieties. Lokay also runs a company bicycle scheme, providing "Climate Bikes" to encourage its employees to cycle to work. Importantly, the company shares its green specialist knowledge with other printers in order to promote eco-friendly practices throughout the industry.

Large private organisations: himolla Polstermöbel GmbH (Germany) one of Europe’s leading producers of upholstered furniture, has gained German ‘Blue Angel’ eco-label certification for its entire product range. In recent years, the company has achieved particular improvements in the area of energy management, employing an energy manager, installing a photovoltaic system and participating in the Energy Efficiency Network initiated by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.