Master thesis: WIR SIND DRAN (IT´S OUR TURN) Status Quo Analysis of CSR Communication in Architecture and Engineering Firms
- Interview-based research
- Experts interviewed: Martin Haas, Dr. Frank Heinlein, Michael Kuhn, Lynn Mayer, Matthias Palloch, Amandus Samsøe Sattler, Prof. Werner Sobek
When it comes to sustainability, why do we usually only comply with what is required by law in our planning and building processes? Why don't we play the keyboard further or wider? What would motivate architects to take much more responsibility, to think in circular systems, to give preference to renovation over new construction and to minimize the consumption of resources? What can the carrot look like if the stick does not want to be used?
These and similar questions have occupied our founder Kathrin for a long time in her work as a communications manager for planning offices. Accordingly, she was euphoric when she was offered the opportunity to get to the bottom of these questions in a scientific setting as part of her part-time degree program in "Communication & Leadership".
"We're on it ... and talking about it!" – this was the title of our founder Kathrin's Master's thesis published in 2021. In her "Status Quo Analysis of CSR Communication in Architecture and Engineering Firms", she interviewed people who are perceived as pioneers and experts in the field of sustainable building in Germany.
“In times of resource scarcity, climate change and Fridays for Future, communication on sustainability is mandatory, one would think. At the same time, despite its considerable environmental impact, planning and building practice still manages without a guilty conscience, said Amandus Samsøe Sattler in preparation for our interview. This suggests that there is currently little need for sustainability communication in the architectural context.
Moreover, the architect per se avoids anything ‘promotional’ and does not want his commitment to sustainability, including the communication of it – loosely based on Walter Fisch’s saying in 1950 `Do good and talk about it! ´ – to be misunderstood as greenwashing.
Therefore, I ask people who are perceived as pioneers and experts for sustainable building in Germany: What does a credible commitment to sustainability look like and how much communication can it take? Is an architect allowed to take his or her own stance or is he or she primarily obliged to builders and investors? Who should be addressed through which channels and which tools can help? Is the communication of one’s own sustainability efforts subject to a separate strategy or is it rather part of corporate communication? And above all: is there a silver bullet, a convincing narrative, or just trial and error?”
Special thanks go to the experts interviewed, Martin Haas, Dr. Frank Heinlein, Michael Kuhn, Lynn Mayer, Matthias Palloch, Amandus Samsøe Sattler, and Prof. Werner Sobek, without whose willingness to be interviewed and honest information this work could not have been written. Kathrin would also like to thank Nina Eisenbrand, Petra Ronzani, Dr. Marlène de Saussure and Yvonne Schober for their organisational help in conducting the interviews.
Ultimately, this status quo analysis not only led to another degree, but also laid the foundation for BAUKUNST.PLUS. Among other things, this is where our founder Kathrin learned how to motivate and empower others to act in a more sustainable way, using creativity, strategy, and humor.