Fresh Wind Fills Green Sails

Steinbeis assists with the introduction of an environmental management system

When it comes to the environment, the Evangelische Heimstiftung (EHS) is thinking big. By launching an environmental management system, EHS isn’t just showing that it takes its responsibility to the environment seriously, it is also fostering innovation and growth in its 82 nursing homes and 17 mobile home care services in Baden- Württemberg – not to mention awareness and competence. The facilities will be subject to an audit and receive the Grünes Segel certificate (“Green Sail”) in recognition of compliance. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Applied Management at Aalen University is assisting EHS in the development and rollout of its environmental management system.

Managers at EHS turned to the Steinbeis Transfer Center in Aalen to design a suitable system, based on the idea of the Green Sail – which bears a similarity to the EHS logo – in collaboration with Professor Dr. Ulrich Holzbaur, director of the center. The team drew on experience from similar projects in the business world and on the city of Aalen’s “Green Eel,” adapting and integrating them into the EHS sustainability and environmental management project.

Getting everybody involved is one important aspect of Green Sail – by working together to formulate environmental targets, an environmental roadmap and an environmental declaration, full use and can be made of the experience and motivation of the entire workforce, fostering involvement in the project. The result is that the environmental team and nursing home managers work hand-in-hand to protect the environment.

“Representing the potential of 83 facilities, 7,200 employees and 10,300 persons receiving care and assistance, EHS can and must make an important contribution to environmental protection and sustainable development. Sustainable corporate governance is anchored in EHS’s code of conduct, because God’s creation is not endlessly renewable or limitlessly available,” says Bernhard Schneider, CEO of EHS, underscoring the importance of Green Sail.

The Green Sail project has led to the initiation of a continuous improvement process at EHS – allowing it to serve as a model for environmental performance and encourage the careful use of existing resources. Indirect effects include the positive image of EHS as well as the sharing of environmental information and awareness among employees, home residents and third parties. Introducing Green Sail also led to an even deeper integration of sustainable development at EHS.

The Green Sail project has been honored by the German UNESCO Committee for its contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005 - 2014. The first two EHS facilities launched the Green Sail process by the end of 2013. The environmental teams started their work in two nursing homes with the assistance of the Steinbeis Transfer Center and planned first activities. Two of the project’s highly motivated and committed supporters are the environmental teams in the Haus im Schlösslesgarten nursing home in Eberdingen-Hochdorf and the Paul-Gerhardt-Stift nursing home in Giengen. Guidelines and checklists have been drafted to assist the nursing homes. One special feature of Green Sail is the peer audit, in which an evaluation of environmental management is carried out not only by EHS management and auditors, but also by sites which have already been certified and qualified external auditors from the municipal or care sectors.

The first facility to be audited was the Haus im Schlösslesgarten nursing home in Eberdingen-Hochdorf. The audit of the second pilot site in Giengen took place in February 2015. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Applied Management is assisting the EHS sites during the launch of Green Sail and working with them throughout the process until the quality standard has been established.


Professor Dr. Ulrich Holzbaur
Steinbeis Transfer Center Applied Management (Aalen)

Judith Eschenhagen
Evangelische Heimstiftung GmbH (Stuttgart)

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