Shaping the future


Smart living requires sustainable solutions – our main goal is to make future living as resource-saving as possible. We therefore keep a close eye on sustainability in our own processes and structures.

Meeting global challenges

Today, humanity’s global ecological footprint is already larger than the earth’s resources will sustain in the long term. The continuous rise in the world’s population and expanding industrial output are also leading to an increase in consumption and the need for resources, especially in emerging and developing countries. Against this background, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. They are intended to steer politicians, society and companies towards sustainable development.

The world’s population is growing and with it consumption. In order to conserve economic resources, the United Nations is focusing on 17 Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs.

As one of the world’s leading energy service providers for greater energy efficiency in buildings, we are making a contribution towards the sustained saving of energy, water, CO2 and ultimately costs. By helping our customers to meter, visualise, bill and manage their energy and water consumption, we make the individual consumption of resources understandable for each one of them and therefore controllable. At the same time, we participate in the political debate and support initiatives to improve energy efficiency and climate protection in buildings. As regards these SDGs, we therefore see our greatest opportunities of exerting influence in the following:

  • SDG 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy for all
  • SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • SDG 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

ista’s corporate vision and sustainability strategy pursue the same goal: to make a contribution towards sustainable added value.

Five questions to Thomas Zinnöcker

Thomas Zinnöcker, CEO of ista, on how he defines sustainability and what sustainability at ista stands for.

What importance does sustainability have for you personally?

For me, sustainability is an important prerequisite for the business success of a company. In the long term, it is impossible to develop a successful business model against the interests of society and the environment. Therefore, when developing and implementing their business strategies, companies must always see themselves as partners of the environment and society. They must systematically support politicians in their efforts to pragmatically implement decisions for greater climate protection, greater energy efficiency and greater social compatibility. Ultimately, it is therefore economic sustainability and good corporate governance that can largely permit ecological and social sustainability.

What priorities would you like to set for ista International's sustainability agenda?

I would like to position ista as a modern, sustainable and therefore future-proof company. ista has a sound foundation, namely a business model geared to sustainability and a highly pronounced understanding of values in the company. We will systematically build on this foundation so that, in future, we can offer our customers and their tenants even better solutions for saving energy and water and therefore costs over the long term. So ista is making its contribution to greater energy efficiency and conservation of resources and thus to the success of the energy transition.

What work does ista have to do to remain the industry leader in sustainability and further expand its pioneering role?

Digital technology is gaining increasing importance for the success of the energy transition. For some years now, ista has therefore been systematically exploiting digitalisation when further developing its product and service portfolio. New digital radio technology and the resultant improved quality of data help us to give our customers transparency of their consumption data even more quickly and flexibly. Thanks to our digital metering and billing technology, we are therefore creating not only greater convenience for the housing industry and tenants but also greater energy efficiency – and still keeping investment costs low. This is an important success factor for us in the fight to hold our ground in the very dynamic competitive environment of the "smart home".

What contribution can ista make towards meeting the goals of the international sustainability agenda (SDGs/COP21 etc.)?

The international sustainability agenda is an important point of departure for us to which we can gear our pan-Group sustainability objectives. We want to play an active role, take responsibility and bring different stakeholders together for the long term, for example tenants, our customers in the housing industry, politicians and NGOs. Here, we are focusing on the global objectives for the modern and sustainable use of energy and water. With innovative product developments, we contribute towards greater transparency in the use of scarce resources in our 24 markets. Furthermore, with our codes of conduct we set standards for suppliers and employees to ensure our partners keep to our social convictions.

To what extent would you say sustainability is linked to ista's business model?

Sustainability is at the very heart of ista. Our products and services meter and visualise individual energy and water consumption and therefore make our customers and their tenants active players in the energy transition. Tenants can become "smart tenants" who actively and flexibly regulate, control and optimise their energy consumption behaviour. Only transparency enables consumers to take responsibility for their consumption and gets them actively involved in the energy transition. Therefore, the core idea behind our business model is to create consumption transparency and thus a world where energy efficiency is really practised. That is and always was crucial for our success and our over 100-year company history.

Systematically implementing the corporate vision

For us, sustainability means above all ensuring future viability: for our customers and partners as well as for our own company and our employees. We work with our customers in a spirit of partnership and would like to lead in energy and water management. Our ambition of being the process and technology leader is based on a culture of trust in our business relations and towards our employees. The sustainability strategy helps us to shape this corporate vision for long-term viability. It is based on the pillars « Responsible leadership and control », « Responsibility in the business model » and « Responsibility for society ». In the defined fields of action – « Products and services », « Energy and resources », « Employees » and « Dialogue and society » – we have set ourselves ambitious goals and continuously monitor the measures implemented.


ista’s sustainability strategy is based on responsible leadership as well as responsibility in the business model and for society.

Fields of action and strategic goals

Field of action – Energy and resources

Strategic goal: Reduction in the average CO2 emissions of our company car fleet in Germany (excluding pool vehicles and vehicles of the customer service technicians) by 13% compared with 2013.

Status 2015: Since 2013, we have succeeded in cutting the average consumption of our company car fleet from 6.8 litres to 6.55 litres per 100 km and therefore reducing the relative CO2 emissions by 3.4% compared with 2013. Various steps have already been taken to cut mileage.  For example, we have introduced a car-sharing app and set up a video conferencing system at head office in Essen to avoid business trips and therefore further reduce the CO2 emissions of our company car fleet.

Target horizon: 2018  

Field of action – Products and services

Strategic goal: International harmonisation of products and services. Further development of the service portfolio towards intelligence services in multi-family buildings on the basis of the existing digital infrastructure.

Status 2015: In 2015, we launched an initiative to further develop the corporate strategy with a view to the core business and possible new fields of business. In Germany, we are cooperating with Dr. Riedel Automatisierungstechnik: together we developed a system solution for networking technology and services for the intelligent multi-family building.

Target horizon: 2017

Field of action – Employees

Strategic goal: Steady increase in employee engagement.

Status 2015: Rollout of further offerings in the field of health and family promotion. Development of a new Global Mobility Policy, which defines new standards for long-term assignments. Introduction of various staff-related measures for the long-term implementation of the company values. Introduction of pay structures which enable employees to receive comparable remuneration for equivalent work. Preparation and selection of the service providers for the next employee survey in 2017. Status of the last survey (2014): indices 82 (Engagement Index) and 73 (Commitment Index).

Target horizon: 2017

Field of action – Dialogue with politicians and society

Strategic goal: Further expansion of transparent dialogue with external stakeholders. Establishment of the company as a partner for the energy transition in the eyes of customers, politicians and society.

Status 2015: Internal validation of the materiality analysis, for the first time also including international stakeholders. Active participation as an expert in stakeholder dialogue formats for the implementation of European energy policy. Intensification of customer dialogue through the rollout of a new CRM platform.

Target horizon: 2017

Seizing sustainable business opportunities

Global challenges such as climate change have led to greater demand for products and services which sustainably conserve resources. This trend is also being promoted on the regulatory side since laws and directives to improve individual and regular consumption information are being introduced in many countries. In the reporting period, we supported initiatives by the European Union to increase energy efficiency and climate protection in buildings. These include the « Heating and Cooling » strategy, the ongoing review process for the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). In this context, a comprehensive law on the energy transition was passed in France. The « Transition Law » provides for energy consumption to be halved by 2050 – the mandatory introduction of submetering is an important element in achieving this goal.

Life for people in the home of the future will be more convenient and comfortable – networked technology in particular is to help people to save energy. We are therefore continuously refining our strategy for smart living. Together with Dr. Riedel Automatisierungstechnik GmbH, ista has, since the end of 2015, been offering a system solution for the digital networking of multi-family buildings. We describe further projects and measures in the Portfolio chapter.

Optimising our own processes

Sustainability is at the core of our business model. Therefore, for us, living the sustainability idea throughout the company is a question of credibility. We also measure consumption figures in our own working environment and try to constantly optimise our resources and materials management. We not only increase our own efficiency but also actively address physical and regulatory risks which climate change may cause. In this context, our employees are our ambassadors for greater sustainability. They also assume responsibility for society and the environment outside ista. We report on our achievements in this field in the Environment and Employees chapters.

Picture credits: gettyimages, grasundsterne