That tastes good to guests and the environment

That tastes good to guests and the environment

Standing upright, the green rooster on a silver background. A stylized drawing surrounded by the words "sustainable – environmentally friendly – credible". The official EMAS certification shows that environmental management is an important focus for the geistliches zentrum schwanberg.

The beginning can be dated: in 2008, there were first considerations on the schwanberg to submit to an environmental certification. But there is no end in sight. The commitment to sustainability can and will never stop, because it is an ongoing process. And a wide field.

"The goal is continuous improvement to reduce the environmental impact on site," says andrea rickel, cake manager and responsible for the entire EMAS certification package at schwanberg. This includes constantly reflecting on one’s own actions and one’s own offer: "is what we are doing right??" Ute hellwig, executive director of the spiritual center, calls the crucial question. After all, standards and knowledge are changing all the time. "There is no one rough step," says hellwig. But there are many small.

These had to be discovered first, because "environmental management" is not a very tangible concept at first glance. Andrea rickel explains it in the area of cuisine: where does the food come from?? How much is cooked, how much is thrown away? How much gauze is produced? Which foods on the menu are associated with particular environmental impact? These and many other questions had to be answered. The inventory was very exciting, says andrea rickel. "You get a completely different view."

The spiritual center’s food offering has changed since then. The already high proportion of vegetarian dishes has been further increased. Orange juice has disappeared from the breakfast table, replaced by juice made from local apples. Fresh food is cooked, almost no frozen food is used. The cakes are home-baked, the flour comes from a local flour mill. These few examples alone show that the focus today is on regional and seasonal dishes.

Suppliers must prove where food comes from. "We demanded to know how many kilometers they had traveled," says the cake chef, citing one example. A map displayed in the dining hall shows who supplies the products. This questioning, this demand for proof, has had an effect. Suppliers have reacted, adapting their offer to the wishes of their customers.

If you convert the catering for the conference guests, the spiritual center has almost 29,000 catering days per year. In addition, almost 10 0000 for the community casteller ring, which is also supplied with food. So the spiritual center is not exactly a small customer.

The guests appreciate the home cooked and regional food. An important point if you want to run a successful conference center, the managing director says. "The seminar offer alone is not enough. People need to feel at home."If the menu is not appealing, guests will not return.

Catering is only one small area of the spiritual center’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection; there are many others. At the moment there are two cakes, but they are to be merged. "Ute hellwig calls it "the challenge of the decade. With the consolidation, duplicate equipment can be avoided – fewer cooling cells, fewer convection ovens, which means a gross energy saving.

In the course of environmental management, all rooms and equipment were inspected. Where can be reduced, where must be renewed? Where waste can be avoided? Where can energy be saved with structural measures?? An environmental team sets new goals every year, documents what has been achieved and what has not, the environmental declaration for EMAS certification, which was drawn up in 2014, is supplemented, updated, and updated. "It never stops," says andrea rickel. "In 20 years, others will be sitting there and there will be many new topics again."

Communication is important

There are many different ways of doing it, and the costs vary. Some problems can be solved just by talking to each other. The temperature in the rooms, for example. In winter, guests often turn up the heating to 5 degrees. The cleaning staff turned it off because no one had been in the room for hours. To then raise the temperature again cost time and energy. As part of the environmental management, it was agreed that the heating is set to 2, employees and guests know about it, the temperatures are pleasant, the environment benefits.

A lot has happened at the spiritual center in recent years. The electricity supply was switched to hydroelectric power, new equipment was purchased, the street lighting was switched to LED, windows and doors were replaced as part of the castle renovation, and much more. There is still a lot of work to be done, on the roof for example, or on the elevator attached to the roof. It may look good and be compatible with the preservation of historical monuments, but at the same time it represents an undesirable cold bridge.

To examine one’s own actions with regard to environmental compatibility and to improve them as much as possible is the one point that is important at the schwanberg. The other is to pass this work on to the outside world and thus stimulate change. "What we do, we don’t do alone in a quiet room," says ute hellwig. "It radiates."On the suppliers for example, on employees, but also on the guests. The spiritual center passes on its knowledge. Through information events, through folders on display, through various course offerings.

Those who book a stay at the jugendhof can, for example, choose so-called cooking modules. An offer that is increasingly used. Just last week, 64 children from the nikolaus fey school in wiesentheid were active in three groups in the spiritual center’s kitchen, exploring how delicious seasonal and regional cuisine tastes – and how easy it is to implement. Among other things, the children made a raw vegetable platter with dip and a mushroom pizza themselves. Take your enthusiasm home with you. Most of them want to cook the pizza there – in this way, too, the spiritual center is bringing a bit of sustainability into the world.


EMAS, a seal of approval from the european union, is the world’s most demanding system for sustainable environmental management. Organizations of all types are awarded the EU label if they meet the strict requirements of the EMAS regulation. EMAS participants continuously improve their environmental performance with the help of a standardized management system. They report on the environmental goals they have set themselves and how they are being implemented in the annual EMAS environmental declaration. This is open to the public and validated by a government-supervised, independent environmental verifier. The environmental verifiers also check whether EMAS is being implemented correctly in practice and confirm that EMAS participants are complying with all environmental regulations (legal compliance). (source: emas.De)

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