Women in construction
Today, it is still unusual to find women in construction. We would like to stand out one of the exceptions at URSA. Marina explains her work and her daily challenges in an interview in which she claims: "Girls must be empowered to design their future and fight for it"
Describe briefly your professional work and your company, how did you get into the world of construction?
I am responsible for Marketing and Communication at URSA Ibérica, a company dedicated to the manufacture of building insulation materials. I came to the world of construction indirectly and a bit by chance.
Until shortly before I started my degree in Technical Architecture, I didn't have my career priorities clearly defined. I did like science and wanted to acquire technical training, but it was a last-minute decision that I have not regretted.
Once I had finished my degree and with the idea of becoming a Site Manager, I started an interview process in 1993. At that time, Barcelona was going through a period of crisis after the construction boom prior to the previous year's Olympics. During this time I had my first clash with gender prejudice in the sector, as not only was my profile rejected, but the interviewers themselves asked me curiously how such a young girl with good looks could want to be a Site Manager.
I saw an offer in the newspaper in which they were looking for Technical Architects for the Prescription department of Poliglas and since then I have not left the sector. I was never a Site Manager but I discovered the exciting world of building materials to which I have dedicated myself professionally.
Do you think there are still difficulties for women to access management positions in the construction industry? What would you change?
The difficulties are still there. Yes, the comments that used to be made freely have changed and now those in charge of personnel selection are more cautious and politically correct.
But the difficulties of access remain the same. The percentage of jobs in the sector is still very low. I also believe that in this sector, on a day-to-day basis, women must continually prove their worth and their good work.
What do you think about quotas versus individual skills?
I don't like it at all, but as things stand I don't see any other solution. I wouldn't like to think that I got my job because I fit into a quota, rather than because of my professional worth.
However, many times, the actions that the law obliges us to take, under penalty of a fine, are effective (radars to reduce speed, obligation to wear masks... etc.). In this case, quotas may be a lesser evil to give women access to certain jobs that are currently forbidden to them.
How can the education sector and companies themselves encourage women's vocations to enter areas considered male domains?
Education is fundamental and from the very beginning. Both at home and at school, boys and girls need to be educated in the confidence that no job is inappropriate or inaccessible to them because of their gender.
We see that parity for certain jobs is not evolving, because a society that in some respects is still very "patriarchal" is not evolving either. We encounter opposition even from our own mothers who do not see it as a good idea for us to work in jobs that are traditionally men's jobs.
Girls must be empowered to design their future and fight for it.
Companies in the sector also have an important challenge ahead of them in terms of approaching professional training and telling women that there is a place for them in their company.
- Big Data
- Building Renovation
- Circular Economy
- Climate change
- CO2 Reduction
- Energy certified
- Energy efficiency
- ESG rating
- Green Deal
- Green Recovery
- Healthy homes
- Human rights
- Mineral wool
- Renovation Wave
- Safe homes
- Safe work
- Solidarity Campaigns
- Thermal insulation
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- United Nations Global Compact
- We are URSA
- We are Xella
- Xella Group
Protect the climate and stimulate the economy with efficient support programs
At the heart of European climate and energy policy is the creation of structures for a secure, affordable and environmentally compatible energy supply. Given the consequences of the corona pandemic, Europe is also facing massive economic challenges, e.g. rising unemployment, declining economic output, a drastic slump in local business and income tax revenues, cancelled or postponed investments.
The new 55% target for energy efficiency: is it feasible?
Can we reach the new goal of 55% of energy reduction? Of course, we can but we need to set a clear path for local governments to transform goals into executive actions. At Eurima (European Insulation Manufacturers Association) we believe in three main areas key to help all actors to achieve this goal.
Our goal: Safe work
Safety in the workplace is a top priority at URSA as part of Xella Group. That's why we see it as a matter of course to promote the long-term health of our employees and ensure their safety. We want our employees to go home from work every day healthy and unharmed.
#GreenRecovery: Adaptation of Subsidy Programs is Key Now
It is great to see that the German government decided on a green recovery package. It increased the budget for #EnergeticRenovation programs for private and public buildings, and social facilities significantly by 2 billion EUR in 2020 and 2021 totaling each year 2,5 billion EUR to reduce our #CO2emissions.
Big Data and building renovation: out of sight, out of mind
If we use Big Data for almost everything, why not use it for energy efficiency? Right now, we have no real idea of what is going on in Europe´s building stock. Information is key to change things, also in energy efficiency in buildings.
Our goal: A strong team
Our employees form the basis of our long-term success. We want to be an attractive employer in all respects. High-quality training at Xella and investments in our employees' qualifications contribute to this, as do fair, performance-based remuneration, a non-discriminatory working environment, and flexible options for balancing work and family life.
Our goal: Improving circular economy capabilities
Building materials from Xella consist mainly of natural raw materials and are almost completely recyclable. URSA insulation products are already largely made from reused materials. Therefore, the conversion of value chains to value cycles makes sense for us for ecological and economic reasons. The circular economy is thus a key aspect of our ESG strategy.
Being energy certified means up to 10% more value for your property
The real estate market increasingly values sustainability in buildings. But how to measure your capacity for savings and efficiency? New buyers are willing to pay up to 10% more for properties that can prove their reduced consumption with energy certificates. Insulation is the first step.
Our goal: Reduce CO2 emission intensity by 30% by 2030
URSA will contribute its own efforts to help Xella, the parent group, achieve its ambitious environmental goals aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
URSA joins Xella Group in supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals
With our business model, we have a high level of positive impact opportunities. To actively leverage this, we sharpened our ESG focus as part of the review of our Sustainability Strategy 2020 and worked out how our strategy can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this core vision, URSA has joined as well to work towards progress and sustainability together and better.
Acting responsibly: Xella joined UN Global Compact
Xella Group has joined the world's largest and most important initiative for responsible corporate governance: The United Nations Global Compact. Xella is committed to the ten sustainable principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment, and corruption prevention.
Our grain of sand to a Net Zero society
Xella has started an ambitious ESG journey and URSA has jumped on this train. Among our commitments, URSA MW insulation solutions will incorporate up to 80 % recycled materials in their manufacturing, besides other concrete and tangible objectives for occupational safety, diversity, and corporate social responsibility.
The first step towards insulation: mineral wool
Good insulation provides comfort, safety and sustainability for the home. Glass mineral wool solutions offer thermal and acoustic comfort, directly contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the European Union.
Dialog with our stakeholders and our essential sustainability topics
Our mission is to enable energy-efficient and long-lasting housing – and to provide as sustainably as possible. To achieve this goal and keep improving, we are in constant exchange with our stakeholders.
Solidarity goes beyond borders
At this important time, we want to promote the value of solidarity by sharing the different initiatives carried out by the different URSA regions with the aim of preserving the basic needs of people and contributing to a decent life.
Sustainability at Xella: Best in Class in our industry
The reputable ESG rating agency Sustainalytics has given Xella a rating of 18.3, putting Xella in first place out of all 115 companies in the building materials sector assessed by Sustainalytics. Sustainalytics therefore classifies the risk of financial impact caused by ESG aspects at Xella as low.
Healthy Buildings for Unhealthy Times: Why Renovate Europe should lead the post-COVID-19 era
It has been shown that the condition of buildings can impact the health of the people who inhabit them. Good insulation or adequate ventilation not only reduces the risks of contracting diseases but is also beneficial for people’s mental health. What should Europe do about it?
Energy efficient and affordable housing – delivered sustainably
URSA, as part of Xella Group, stands for innovative, safe and sustainable building and insulation materials and is the solution provider for energy-efficient, healthy and cost-optimized construction. Thus, our product portfolio contributes to decarbonization and to a low-carbon construction sector.
Making open plan offices work – insulation, the critical ingredient
Open spaces have been a growing trend since 1990. But they are not always the most suitable option depending on where you are in the world. The sustainability, comfort and profitability of a business space or open space home will depend on insulation, climate and location.
Does the circular economy help minimize the environmental effects of the construction industry?
Applying the principle of the circular economy to construction materials and the renovation of buildings offers benefits not only for the sector but for society in general. The architect must be a fundamental part of this change in the way the world thinks.