Managerial Odyssey 2023: Germany company#4 Drees & Sommer

In this article, we will introduce you to Drees & Sommer, a German construction company that is helping to create the working environment of tomorrow. Its inspiring philosophy brings together profitability and ecology.

1 - An Overview of Drees & Sommer

Drees & Sommer is an international consulting firm that has been assisting its clients with real estate and construction projects for over 50 years. They imagine a project, and go from the initial idea to the commissioning of the building. They design innovative and eco-responsible projects, and have numerous projects alongside companies. The goal is not only to be design, sustainable, and to optimize space, but also to arrange in such a way as to enhance employees’ well-being and interactions.

For example, Nokia relied on the know-how of the User Experience team of Drees & Sommer, with whom they co-concepted an innovative work environment for 90,000 employees around the world. The goal was to design an organization of space that favors co-creation, a sense of belonging, contributes to the well-being of employees and fosters an inclusive culture. They created a global strategy based on the needs and preferences of employees, carefully analyzed in order to offer a positive work environment experience. 

As you can see, Drees & Sommer wants to be integrated in the future of work by creating spaces favorable to the well-being of employees and the environment.

In this article, we will focus on the eco-responsible aspect of Drees & Sommer’s projects within companies.

2- "The blue way": the desire to combine eco-responsibility and profitability

We had the chance to meet Simone Bücksteeg and Katrin Barth in the  space dedicated to the future of work at the Ambiente trade fair in Frankfurt. We approached them at the end of a conference, and they kindly took the time to answer our questions. 

It quickly became clear that Drees & Sommer makes it a point of honor offering services that take into account both economic interests and ecological aspects. We were told that by focusing on a sustainable construction vision, Drees & Sommer optimizes the long-term profitability of projects and their clients’ return on investment. Drees & Sommer call this approach “the blue way” and it is truly a philosophy that the company has inscribed into its DNA.

->Regarding their internal environmental efforts, we are informed that each year a carbon footprint is established, and the conclusions are highly positive. CO2 emissions per employee amount to 2.29 tons per year, and more than 80% of these emissions are related to business travel. We are also told that:

  • The company is currently in the process of converting its fleet to green vehicles. 
  • All German locations are 100% powered by green electricity
  • Locations are covered with photovoltaic panels. 

3- Designing tomorrow's offices according to the Cradle to Cradle philosophy, a response to the ecological crisis

After having asked our two contacts about the climate crisis, we realize that environmental issues are taken very seriously at Drees & Sommer. The company calls itself a principled company. Their commitment to environmental protection can be seen both internally as illustrated above, but is above all seen in their core business activities.

1. An Explanation of this philosophy

It is a philosophy that states that human beings and their activities are not a danger to nature or health, and that it is possible to “do good” rather than just “do less harm” by reducing our impacts. 

This concept is based on the idea that all products should be designed to be reused at the end of their life and not end up as waste. This means designing products with biological materials can degrade without harming the environment, or technical materials that can be recycled without any loss of quality.

The Cradle to Cradle philosophy aims to replace the current linear “use and discard” economy with a circular economy that will reduce waste and preserve natural resources for future generations.

If indeed this is an appealing philosophy, it is because it is both an ecological and an economic solution.

2- Drees & Sommer's application of this philosophy: designing the offices of the future

Drees & Sommer is in an optimal position to introduce cradle to cradle innovations to the market. Indeed, the company is strategically positioned between investors, builders, architects and material manufacturers. Therefore introducing these innovations into the design, construction and operation of buildings. 

Thus, Drees & Sommer has the will to design work spaces conceived for for the long term, through the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials.

The firm works with the Building Material Scout (BMS), a service platform that lists over 40,000 sustainable and environmentally friendly construction products. (building materials such as bricks, stones, wood, concrete, finishing materials, insulation, plumbing …)

Within their premises in Stuttgart, Germany, there is a “living Showroom”, a place that has been completely revitalized according to Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principles, a practical example as to what they offer their customers:

All the materials in this showroom have been screened to ensure that they are neither hazardous nor polluting. Also included are:

  • Fine carpets that retain dust and acoustic absorbers with an air purifying surface ensuring a healthy indoor environment
  • A living green wall that creates a pure atmosphere and humidifies the often dry air in the office
  • Swivel chairs that are not only fully recyclable, but also come with a take-back guarantee. At the end of their life, the manufacturer reclaims the chairs, refunds approximately 20% of the purchase price and then recycles them according to C2C principles.


But Drees & Sommer also work with their suppliers to help them develop environmentally friendly C2C solutions. 

For example, they are working with Schüco, a leader in custom carpentry, to develop C2C-certified windows and facades. Indeed, the materials used for the construction of windows and facades must be able to be recycled into high quality raw materials.

We hope you enjoyed this article! Thanks and see you soon!


Élodie & Dimitri