Sustainable value creation is at the heart of HIAG’s site redevelopment vision. As the long-term owner of the sites, HIAG shapes districts at the intersections of important traffic routes. The challenge lies in understanding the identity and “soul” of a site and transforming it so that it remains at the heart of the districts, thus preserving the environment for future generations. HIAG effectively helps counteract the pressure of urban sprawl.
The fourth industrial revolution has triggered an unprecedented global change. For HIAG and for Switzerland, this transformation process offers unique opportunities to help shape the framework for a process that, as in the early 1700s, began with the division of labour and led to an enormous drive for innovation under the influence of the Enlightenment’s major figures. Switzerland’s considerable economic strength, political stability and tourist appeal give HIAG the ability to engage in initiatives and projects at its sites that have a global impact.
The merging of HIAG’s values with its social responsibility can also be seen in the sustainable development goals formulated in the 2030 agenda of the United Nations, which serve as HIAG’s guidelines. Thus, HIAG’s sites can become centres of meaningful entrepreneurial initiatives and serve as a framework for a technology-based renaissance: infrastructure, innovation and production capacity deliver solutions for future generations.
Some of HIAG’s sites are located on the courses of rivers, and have hydroelectric plants that were important energy sources for previous industrial operations. Due to their integration in site structures, HIAG has gradually taken over the operation and maintenance of these facilities, repairing and modernising the plants in recent years. Today, they are being used again to produce electricity at three sites in the Zurich highlands, in Biberist and in Diesbach. In 2018, five small hydroelectric plants with an installed capacity of about 2 MW generated a total of about 5’670’961 kWh of electricity from renewable energy, which corresponds to the average annual requirement of about 1’400 homes. The 2018 output in Diesbach corresponds to only 8.5 months, as the turbine was out of service for quite some time following a fatigue break. Furthermore, due to the hot summer and the correspondingly low water levels, the hydroelectric plants in Biberist (SO), Schönau (ZH), Floos (ZH) and Oberaathal (ZH) produced less energy or were idle.
In Aathal (ZH),hydroelectricity is important for both the canton of Zurich and the historic preservation office. Three of the 12 power plants in the hydroelectric power chain that stretches through this region are expected to receive renovation subsidies from the canton in the medium term based on a concept drafted by HIAG. These protected energy sources will therefore be maintained according to historic preservation principles, and HIAG will be able to operate the three hydroelectric plants in Aathal economically and for long term.
On the roof of the former recruitment centre at the Kunzareal site, HIAG installed one of the largest photovoltaic facilities in the Brugg-Windisch region, with electricity production of 149 MWh from 794 modules with a surface area of 1’300 m2. Since 2013, approximately 573 tons of CO2 emissions have been saved, as at the end of 2018.
For new buildings, HIAG always checks whether the roof areas are suitable for solar panels and whether the energy produced can be used locally or stored.
When creating housing projects, HIAG pays attention to the careful use of resources and strives to optimise the energy footprint, taking into account the needs of future residents throughout the entire cycle of use. The certification approach varies depending on the starting point with regard to use, anchor tenants and existing building structure. In recent years, HIAG’s structures have received Minergie and LEED certifications, and for protected building structures, GEAK certification.
HIAG promotes the use of public transport and therefore does not provide a fleet of vehicles for its employees. Employees who need to travel frequently receive general or half-fare transport passes. Employees also have access to Mobility Carsharing, and those who travel often by train or who work at various sites receive mobile technical equipment. HIAG also supports mobility vehicle stations at its sites whenever possible.
Quality in architecture and urban planning
Site redevelopment is an intensive communication task in which the requirements of policies, historic preservation, existing users, the local public and sometimes organisations must be taken into account, in addition to the legal conditions for construction and planning. In order to deal with these complex interests, competition procedures are frequently held by invitation for urban planning issues and master plan procedures. Interests are recognised and dealt with by means of concrete contributions in multi-level processes and in committees where important stakeholders are represented. HIAG can thus reconcile its entrepreneurial vision for the site with the parties involved and at the same time feed proposals featuring premium urban planning and architectural quality into its processes. Since HIAG remains the sites’ longterm owner, elements of operational strategy can also be introduced very early on, in order to support the development of an independent identity at the sites and to spark new life in vibrant quarters.
Cooperation with educational institutions
HIAG fosters exchanges with educational and research institutions and supports task-specific cooperation with universities in the context of site redevelopment. That way, students are given the opportunity to put theoretical knowledge into practice. In recent years, there have been cooperation programmes with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in the field of architecture, Lucerne University in the field of interior design and the University of Applied Sciences of North-West Switzerland in the field of energy and environmental technology. In addition, HIAG supports employees who work on specific topics as guest lecturers at universities such as the University of Zurich and Lucerne University.
A focus on client needs
From HIAG’s point of view, all direct and indirect site users are considered as clients. That includes our tenants’ customers and employees as well as their ecosystem. HIAG views long-term redevelopment projects from the future client’s perspective. It has come to learn, for example, that even properties that are initially occupied by one tenant should be designed to accommodate multiple tenants. HIAG’s insights also have an influence on the development of different services for the quarter and the creation of green spaces that serve as places of identity, the conversion of historic buildings and the targeted use of art.
A partner for the Swiss workplace
For HIAG, site redevelopment also entails the strengthening of the Swiss workplace. HIAG’s commercial tenants include well-known, major corporations such as ABB, Brugg Rohrsysteme, Doka Schweiz, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., Media Markt, Jeld-Wen and Stadler Rail. HIAG places great value on close relationships with industrial anchor tenants. It benefits from its own expertise in the redevelopment of industrial structures, which is based on its industrial past.
HIAG also puts the considerations of local businesses first when redeveloping sites. Wherever a suitable supply structure is available, local suppliers are always invited to the tendering process and can thus become part of local development. Even the sites’ management is carried out largely in cooperation with locally well-anchored service providers or with HIAG’s own teams on-site.
HIAG leverages digital entrepreneurship for site redevelopment
The activity of the Biberist paper factory has had a lasting impact on the site. Its impressive structures bear witness to this past cycle of use. With the dismantling of the paper machines and the freeing up of floor space, the path is now clear to connect the immense potential of this industrial site to the performance of the HIAG Data infrastructure.
Today, startups at the Biberist site are launching and scaling transnational business models of the fourth industrial revolution based on the creation of intangible value, intellectual property, digital swarms and the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Only 1% of the building’s surface area is currently being used for this. These innovative startups include a company that produces 3D printing solutions for applications in professional sports, mobility and securing clean drinking water in developing countries, an eSports leisure centre with a venue for eSports tournaments and cloudsupported high-end simulators for racing. With the arrival of the logistics company Sieber Transport, the site can now offer globally-oriented companies a seamless connection to a high-performance international supply chain.
HIAG has positioned the Biberist site as a destination for startups that are building their business models on new technologies, including big data, artificial intelligence, data security and high-performance network connections. These advances, the operational data infrastructure and the planned construction projects are consistent with six of the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations.
Pioneers of industrial development
At the Legler site, pioneers of the previous industrial revolution once screwed in the first light bulbs, commissioned one of Switzerland’s first hydroelectric power plants and supplied denim to all of Europe. HIAG has chosen Alpine Co-Working as a partner at this site in order to make it a retreat, offering the workforce of large corporations and organisations a place to rethink and redesign their business models, and enabling companies to confront the challenges of the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution.
The project at the Legler site will meet the retreat requirements of established companies, which up until now have gone to boutique hotels and spa resorts, or have even created their own resort locations. The upcoming transformation corresponds to this fast growing trend. In addition to rooms for workshops and events, the site has quality accommodation and catering facilities, and will be suitable for business and family events with up to 150 guests. At the same time, it will become an “alpine hub” for today’s digital nomads.
With this strategy, HIAG combines core sustainability values with an investment in historically valuable building structures, while activating local businesses, supporting the development of the entire region and taking into account seven of the United Nation’s sustainability goals (see table).