Greening the economy by improving energy efficiency of buildings

The Green Building Cluster of Lower Austria connects construction and building professionals with researchers to address challenges such as climate change and enable innovation through cooperation. The Green Building Cluster is one of 6 strategic cluster initiatives being implemented in Lower Austria in the period 2007-13.

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© Niederösterreich Werbung Kammeter © Niederösterreich Werbung Kammeter

The initiative provides pre-competitive support for mainly small and medium- sized companies in order to strengthen their innovation capacity and foster expertise in the area of sustainable building and living. It acts as a neutral platform, enabling trust building between cluster members, mediating between businesses and public administration to help shape business and innovation friendly framework conditions, while building a bridge between SMEs and R&D institutions. It currently involves about 200 members, of which more than 80% are SMEs. Other members include larger companies, research and education institutions and associations. The added value of this initiative is the development of existing economic fields of strength – building on the Timber Cluster (started in 2001) and the Green Building Cluster (started in 2003) – in a comprehensive and strategic way to help companies transform to innovate. In this sense it is more than initiating a couple of collaborative projects, but rather initiating several interventions at different phases of the innovation process aiming at removing bottlenecks to business innovation. For example, the cluster initiative, as a neutral platform for the triple-helix stakeholders, helps to develop better framework conditions, mobilizes companies to improve their skills and innovate, facilitates know-how transfer from universities to businesses and contributes to the sustainable development of regional specialisation.

Since 2001 the Green Building Cluster has triggered 249 projects with (cumulated) 486 company participations. One of the initiatives developed was the “Future Building” Competence Centre including the Department for Building and Environment at Danube University Krems and other partners from the construction, building materials and components industries. Other examples are Zero Energy Retail Outlets using passive house technologies and integrated photovoltaic systems for Prefab Houses. In cooperation with regional sector associations, the cluster has also developed a joint training program to provide skills in the area of energy efficient buildings.

More than 200 master builders, carpenters, architects, planners, site managers, heating and plumbing professionals and energy and building consultants have so far benefitted from these training programmes and are now fully qualified to carry out energy-efficient old building refurbishment.

The Lower Austrian Cluster Programme, to which this cluster belongs, is an integral part of the Regional Innovation Strategy, co-financed by the EU. The Regional Economic Policy Objectives have been translated into clear and measurable objectives for each cluster initiative (as well as for all other innovation support actions within the region). The main indicators are the number of new strategic R&D projects involving SMEs, big companies and research institutions, the number of product and system solutions developed in collaborative projects of companies and the rate of cluster members’ participation in collaborative projects.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Green Buildings Cluster” was EUR 3 400 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 937 370 from the Operational Programme “Lower Austria” for the 2007-2013 programming period.

 

Draft date

07/01/2014