Ecology and economics go hand-in-hand 2 minutes spent reading

Ecology and economics go hand-in-hand

Mareike Felhofer
Mareike Felhofer was responsible for employee communications in the Internal Communications team from 2013 to 2019. For the Corporate Blog, she mainly wrote articles on the topics of health & safety, corporate responsibility, environment and energy or employee campaigns and events.

Thanks in part to the contribution made by David Binder, voestalpine has become one of the most environmentally-friendly technology and capital goods groups. The qualified chemical laboratory technician has been head of the emissions measuring group in the testing and analysis unit (TSP) in Linz since 2018.

“When I was young I wanted to be a wildlife conservationist in Africa”, admits David Binder. But luckily for the climate, and for voestalpine, he followed a different path. It happened like this: David Binder came to the notice of the TSP team during his internship, while a pupil of a technical high school specializing in chemical engineering. Which makes this step all the more logical. “Back then, measuring emissions and immissions didn’t enjoy the priority within the Group that it does today. However, that all changed with my entry into the company when we started to establish a separate department.”

Proud of accurate measurement results

Today the testing and analysis department is an accredited testing laboratory and an inspection center for air pollution controls, as well as a link between the company and the authorities. Together with his 5-person team, at prescribed intervals David Binder controls around 280 emitting sources within the Group, including workplace measurements, at the voestalpine sites in Traisen, Donawitz, and Linz. All relevant air pollutants are measured, including everything from dust and particulate matter, exhaust gases, metals and heavy metals, to halogens and dioxins. As is so often the case, this again demonstrates that ecology and economics can go hand-in-hand.

"At the beginning, the plant managers were always a little skeptical when we turned up, until it turned out that our measurement results could be used to optimize resource use, and so reduce costs."
David Binder

David Binder is as proud of his contribution to changing such attitudes as he is of the accuracy of his measurement results.

Measurement processes becoming ever more precise

What particularly fascinates this father of two and an enthusiastic climber about his task is the rapid speed of development. This takes the form of the constantly increasing demands made of the measurement methods. “They’re becoming increasingly precise, while at the same time the threshold limits are falling. This is a major challenge for new and pilot facilities in particular.” The trend is towards continuous measurements using equipment which supplies information on a permanent basis. Consequently, these days David Binder and his team are required to conduct many comparative measurements. These serve to verify whether the measurement devices are supplying proper data and evaluating them correctly.

Customers demand emissions measurements

For David Binder this rapid development is an indicator of the future of operational environmental protection. “Today already customers are asking us for emissions measurements and data when they order a product from us. That means that the topic of emissions and emissions measurements is not only acknowledged as integral to operational responsibility, but is also included in a company’s catalogue of quality criteria.”

Mareike Felhofer

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