Knauf's Rajesh Maheshwari On Lightweight Construction Being An Inimitable Part of The Sustainable Construction industry.
For many companies, sustainable construction entails responsible manufacturing practices that reduce environmental impact and waste generation during the building materials production process. Leading drywall products and systems manufacturer, Knauf's Rajesh Maheshwari chats to T2NZ about the company's dedication to sustainable goals. Established in 1932, this German company has stood for courage, and determination, and has a business savvy view.
Maheshwari affirms that the empowerment Knauf offers to its employees helps them to explore their individual potential to the limit. In his role, he is happy about both the learning as well as the fact that his customers appreciate Knauf's policies towards health, safety and sustainability. He also speaks about digitalisation as well as growth and tremendous changes within the industry.
Q: Knauf as a company has a strong commitment to sustainability, how do you prioritize your commitment both within the organization through your products and your services?
A: As the UN states 'Sustainable development and climate action are linked – and both are vital to the present and future well-being of humanity.'
Knauf has a very responsible approach toward society. We have a documented sustainability policy in place, encompassing environmental social and economic aspects. The detailed policy clearly outlines our sustainability goals, plans and actions.
Drywalls, in general, are quite sustainable as they are low in dead weight, consume minimal water and have many more benefits.
Q: How does Knauf propose to influence other key players in the industry?
A: Our approach towards society and all the stakeholders in the supply chain is very pragmatic. We liaise with local authorities including civil defence, municipality and other relevant bodies to ensure compliance with local regulations. Infact we are among the first ones to lead such initiatives. We can now see other industry players following similar steps, but a quicker approach is needed.
Q: Please tell us about your key projects and how sustainability has been prioritised in this area.
A: When we started our operations in the UAE all our products were imported. Now, more than ninety percent of our products are made in UAE, thereby reducing the carbon footprint through reduced transportation. We also have a top-driven initiative called “Continuous Improvement”: a global program that has regional managers and managers at individual manufacturing sites, to assess this ongoing increase in productivity and reduction in wastage.
We are one of the first companies to get ISO 50001 certified for better energy management in our industry. We are also certified for ISO 14001 (environment) as well as ISO 45001 for health and safety. We recently won the Green Building Council award in 2021. Our in-house projects lead towards increased sustainable offerings. We also deliver to projects with stringent LEED requirements across the Region.
Q: Is it easy to find potential new customers who are invested in sustainable construction?
A: It’s all about sensitising the clients on the benefits of drywall construction for the full “project cycle”.
We generally come across clients who start comparing the material rates of lightweight construction vs traditional items.
That’s where our role comes into play. We explain to them at length, the overall benefits of drywall constructions in terms of reduced overall weight on foundation, more usable area (thinner walls with better performances), lesser water consumption, logistical benefits (less number of trucks to deliver the same amount of material), quicker project completion and design flexibility.
Consistent and persistent efforts are required to change the established mindset. The good news is that we are already seeing the changes happening in the industry.
Q: How have developments in Construction Technology impacted the gypsum board industry, and of course, what impact has it had on the overall construction industry sustainable construction?
A: A significant change in the industry has been growth of modular and offsite construction. Lightweight construction has gained importance as its long lasting, easier to install and to work with. Gypsum boards are one of the most important lightweight construction materials and are hence gaining lot of importance.
Also, digitalisation is already a part of construction industry and is going to gain further momentum.
We have developed several online tools like Spekbuild and BIM Plug-in, to enable all clients to design and develop their own drywall solutions based on their needs.
Q: Could you tell us more about Knauf’s social impact strategy?
A: As mentioned before, our sustainability policy has three pillars, environmental, economic and social. The social aspect of our sustainability policy hinges on quality of life and high safety standards. When it comes to products, we supply those that are compliant with regulatory approvals; we will not supply anything which does not qualify under the safety norms.
Our manufacturing maintains a high standard of safety. We are ISO 45001 certified and follow the health and safety norms as per their guidelines. Furthermore, Knauf organises frequent employee training sessions to keep all updated on the latest best practices in health and safety, as well as sustainability. We also have customer training sessions at “Knauf Training Center” at our HQ in Dubai, to not only to educate them about our systems, but the focus is also on how to reduce wastage during installation which also contributes to sustainability. So yes, in terms of the social aspect of our sustainability policy, it is quite comprehensively detailed, and we follow it very seriously.
Q: Please tell us about your favourite game. Why do you like it so much?
A: I have been quite passionate about cricket right from the beginning. I follow international games. These days, my work schedule permitting, I try to keep track of important matches. I have also organised some cricket games in the office and with our customers and it’s always fun.