3 questions to smart minds

Environmental investments, what do they really mean?

For this 3 questions to Nico Helling

Photo: Nico Helling
26. June 2018

Invest­ments in energy effi­ci­ency and pollu­tion reduc­tion are still very abstract and diffi­cult to under­stand for many. Often the imagi­na­tion for concrete appli­ca­ti­ons does not go beyond rene­wa­ble ener­gies or recy­cling. Ambi­enta specia­li­zes in envi­ron­men­tal invest­ments. What does sustaina­bi­lity mean to you?

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Nico Helling, Mana­ging Part­ner AMBIENTA SGR Germany in Düsseldorf

1. How is sustaina­bi­lity actually reflec­ted in products and services?

Since 1950, the world’s popu­la­tion has tripled, and incre­asing urba­niza­tion and prospe­rity are leading to ever more inten­sive use of natu­ral resour­ces and envi­ron­men­tal pollu­tion. In the public discus­sion, CO2 emis­si­ons are the main issue for envi­ron­men­tal pollu­tion and energy consump­tion for resource effi­ci­ency. In fact, howe­ver, there are a much larger number of harmful emis­si­ons, which may include, for exam­ple, radio­ac­tive radia­tion, noise, or even a variety of chemi­cal subs­tances. Simi­larly with natu­ral resour­ces, it goes far beyond oil, coal and metals.

Effi­ci­ency in the food indus­try, for exam­ple, also plays a major role for Ambi­enta; here, 57% of calo­ries are lost today across the entire value chain during harve­s­t­ing, proces­sing, and distri­bu­tion. At Ambi­enta, we measure sustaina­bi­lity using a matrix of 11 metrics for envi­ron­men­tal pollu­tion and resource effi­ci­ency. This ranges from water savings to pollutant emis­si­ons, to biodi­ver­sity. The products and services of our port­fo­lio compa­nies save, for exam­ple, 27 times the water consump­tion of New York with more than 20 million inha­bi­tants per year.

We see the trend toward sustainable products and services as an irrever­si­ble neces­sity against the back­drop of a world popu­la­tion that conti­nues to grow and consume at a faster pace.

2. In which areas do you find invest­ments that live up to the idea of sustainability?

We can find examp­les of sustainable products in all indus­tries, simi­lar to how we find digi­tiza­tion solu­ti­ons in all indus­try segments today. Our port­fo­lio company Oskar Nolte GmbH, for exam­ple, saved around 23,000 metric tons of solvents hazar­dous to the envi­ron­ment and health last year (equi­va­lent to the volume of around 1,700 tanker trucks) through its water-based wood coating systems. Buil­dings repre­sent 44% of Euro­pean energy consump­tion (far more than vehic­les) and so we find nume­rous products that reduce this consump­tion, e.g. through recy­clable insu­la­tion mate­ri­als, effi­ci­ent heating systems as well as smart home tech­no­lo­gies that also include soft­ware solu­ti­ons. The pack­a­ging indus­try is also incre­asingly using sustainable raw mate­ri­als, such as biode­gra­da­ble plas­tics, to combat pollu­tion of the world’s oceans. Consu­mers are also buying with grea­ter aware­ness of sustaina­bi­lity; natu­ral cosme­tics is just one such example.

3. In what orders of magni­tude does AMBIENTA invest? In which regi­ons? How much and how do you influence your port­fo­lio companies?

Ambi­enta invests in compa­nies head­quar­te­red in Europe whose products or services contri­bute to pollu­tion control or the effi­ci­ent use of natu­ral raw materials.

We take both majo­rity and mino­rity stakes, typi­cally inves­t­ing equity of between EUR 30m and EUR 75m with the capa­city to invest up to EUR 150m for indi­vi­dual cases. — Our ambi­tion is to actively promote the inter­na­tio­nal growth of our busi­nesses, as sustaina­bi­lity solu­ti­ons are expe­ri­en­cing incre­asing demand globally and our Euro­pean tech­no­lo­gies are tech­ni­cally among the most advan­ced in the world. In this way, the ecolo­gi­cal and econo­mic bene­fits can go hand in hand.

About Ambi­enta

Ambi­enta is a leading Euro­pean private equity firm with offices in Milan, Düssel­dorf and London. Focu­ses on growth invest­ments in indus­trial compa­nies that focus on trends in envi­ron­men­tal tech­no­logy. Ambi­enta mana­ges the world’s largest capi­tal fund in this sector, with more than €1 billion, and has alre­ady comple­ted 27 resource effi­ci­ency and envi­ron­men­tal invest­ments across Europe. With indus­trial and manage­ment exper­tise as well as global indus­try cont­acts, Ambi­enta actively contri­bu­tes to the deve­lo­p­ment of its port­fo­lio compa­nies. For more info, visit

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