People behind REHAU: Emanuel Köhler

"With sustainable rainwater management, we can counteract the effects of climate change"

During his almost 15 years at REHAU, Emanuel has been able to gain insights into various areas and functions. He currently is responsible for civil engineering as part of the Building Solutions sales team. In an interview, he revealed to us what he likes about his day-to-day work and how well thought out rainwater management can help to meet the challenges of climate change.

Emanuel, what has your career been like so far and what is your current area of responsibility?

I started my apprenticeship as an industrial clerk at REHAU in 2005, and got to know many different departments during this time. That's the good thing about REHAU: there are a lot of different interesting products and areas where you have the opportunity to change and try something completely new. I worked in various functions before I left the company in order to gain experience with other employers where I found the field of rainwater and sewer technology. I returned to REHAU in 2021 as Senior Sales Representative for the civil engineering area of rainwater. I really enjoy this field and the “outside perspective” I gained through my job change helps me to better understand the needs of our customers and partners.

What do you like about your job?

When I start the day in the morning, I never know what to expect later. I really like the variety and the exciting field of work. I think it's great I don't just sell a product, but also accompany the entire project - from planning to implementation. It is important to me to work out a well thought out and functioning solution for the customer, and win orders based on technical proposals. I also get to know many people and have contact with different customer groups, for example construction companies, dealers or engineering offices.

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How does such a project development work?

Often a client or planner comes to us with a specific project. I get involved in project planning at a very early stage and help with calculations, drawings, cost statements and proposals. In addition, I clarify questions with construction companies, and support them on the construction site. I'm basically a project developer with sales responsibilities.

Your current area of activity is rainwater management. Why is this such an important topic? 

Every day, more and more areas are sealed. Where there was a meadow before, for example, a house or a parking lot is built. The rainwater can no longer seep into the ground, but instead falls onto asphalted ground, and settles into the sewer system or other receiving waters. At the same time, heavy rain events are increasing due to climate change, and the canal systems and receiving waters are typically not designed for high levels of precipitation. This leads to floods with serious consequences. Another effect of climate change is the combination of increased heat waves and rising extreme temperatures. This increased water consumption could be balanced out through sustainable use of rainwater. For example, rainwater could be collected in cisterns and used to irrigate planted buildings and help cool a city. It also saves drinking water otherwise used for watering.

Do events like the flood disaster in Germany last year have an impact on your day-to-day business?

Yes, these events raise awareness and I have noticed I am receiving more and more specific inquiries regarding flood protection and evidence. I would like this awareness to remain. Unfortunately, the topic is still often underestimated, but with the noticeable consequences of increasing climate change, it will become more and more important.

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How can you help counteract negative consequences such as flooding?

I help to control rainwater where it occurs so it does not become a problem for others. Using rainwater sustainably means allowing the water on to seep away or evaporate, or store it temporarily or with delayed release on the respective property. Our product system, for example, directs the water through sewer pipes to boxes installed underground. First, the collected dirt in the water is filtered out through a sedimentation shaft. The water is then collected in the boxes and drained away in a targeted manner. If this is not possible due to the nature of the soil, it is temporarily stored and released in a controlled manner into a receiving water such as the sewer system or surface water. Another ecological advantage is it can contribute to the formation of new groundwater. Without rainwater management, the water from the property would run off uncontrollably onto a street or into a stream or river. If this happens to many properties, there is a risk that the water level of bodies of water would increase and widespread flooding could occur. 

It would be ideal if not only rain drainage, but also the irrigation of green spaces, were taken into account in the planning at the municipal level. A planting concept could cool cities and save drinking water. For comprehensive and sustainable rainwater management, rainwater would not only be diverted, but also collected and reused. This is one way we can counteract the effects of increasing climate change such as floods and heat waves. 

That sounds like an important area of responsibility and an exciting day-to-day work. How do you balance to your job with your life outside of work?

I enjoy being outdoors and visiting friends in Scotland once a year. Together we go backpacking long distance hikes through the Highlands. I also combine this with my other hobby, photography. My camera has already covered a few kilometers and recorded many hikes. Music also plays an important role in my life. Before Corona, I went to concerts regularly. And of course I spend a lot of time with my family. We like to go on bike tours, preferably, with a planned stop in one of the many wine cellars here.

Thank you for the interview, Emanuel!

Engineering progress

Enhancing lives

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