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Living and working in the heart of the Dolomites

#salewaculture #sustainability

SALEWA is a family-owned, management run business with deep roots in South Tirol, so it was no surprise that the Oberalp Group decided to locate its international headquarters in Bolzano.

The SALEWA headquarters opened on October 6, 2011 and is one of the most prominent buildings in the region. It’s an impressive 50-metre high complex that looks like a rock crystal with extensive glass slabs and towers that reflect the surrounding mountains. Although we had to promise the local authorities that it would not be taller than the city’s churches.

“I believe my responsibility as an employer and company owner is to create an environment where my staff can thrive and grow,” says President Heiner Oberrauch. “A company’s headquarters is much more than a place to work. The building is a place where people can meet and socialise. They should feel at home here, and see it as somewhere they can evolve professionally.”

The headquarters were designed specifically to ensure that SALEWA employees can strike the right balance between professional and family life and according to three core criteria: nature (ecology), life (socio-cultural aspects) and transparency (economic development and maintenance). In fact, it was the first building in Italy to earn “Work&Life” certification from the KlimaHaus agency.

In addition to providing a warm and friendly environment to work in, the building also acts as an interface between the brand and local residents. It has its own indoor and outdoor climbing and bouldering wall, retail shop, landscaped grounds and bistro – all of which are open to the public.

The building pioneers new architectural, social and eco-friendly standards. On its roof is a photovoltaic power plant that produces some 430 kWh of energy a year. This means that it is not only carbon-neutral, but also generates twice as much power as the building needs, so that excess energy can be supplied to the local region.

In summer, high-efficiency shading panels and solar-control glass prevent overheating, while the building’s concrete core activation regulates room temperature. A carefully thought-out lighting concept uses natural light to save energy and a special disposal process collects and separates waste in all areas. The state-of-the-art warehouse system handles more than 30,000 items each day; all cardboard boxes are either reused or recycled.

For young families, Salewa’s in-house crèche, run by a Bolzano social childminders’ cooperative, aims to provide children the best possible care during the initial years of development, close to their parents, who don’t have to give up their careers.

Salewa’s company cafeteria offers carefully prepared food that tastes like home cooking and uses healthy, locally sourced ingredients. You’ll find plenty of fresh fruit and salads; you won’t find any frozen or fast food.

The Cube, SALEWA’s own climbing gym, is a cutting-edge (low-tech and eco-friendly) climbing wall where the local mountaineering community, employees and the public are able to train, socialise and sfogarsi (let off steam). It has large glass panels on one side that open up. Given that Bolzano has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, most of the climbing takes place with the doors open and plenty of fresh air.

And if you were expecting the president’s parking space to be just outside the front door, think again. Instead there’s a parking lot for bicycles and a free electric charging station.

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