Energising buildings the right way

Experts in the building industry are working together in Lower Austria to ensure that old and new constructions are as green as possible. The Green Building Cluster focuses on ‘innovation through cooperation’ and draws on new techniques and concepts such as passive housing and renewable energy.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

So far, more than 230 cooperative projects involving 200 partners have been initiated under the cluster, and markedly improved energy performance in old buildings has already been recorded, contributing to the EU 2020 goal of an energy-efficient Europe.

A smart move

The cluster is managed by ‘ecoplus’ and has a core team of five experts: architects, energy experts and professionals from construction and interior design. The aim is to link and strengthen existing Lower Austrian know-how in sustainable building and living, notably through research work with universities, research institutions and technical schools. It promotes smart, innovative, sustainable and environment-friendly projects of benefit to the local region by sharing information and expertise via its website, newsletters, media reports, presentations, press conferences, industry events and trade fairs.

The cluster is committed to the energy-efficient refurbishment of old buildings and the construction of new, multi-storey buildings to passive house standards. Since 2001, 230 cooperative projects have been undertaken and involved 463 companies. The results have been significant: between 2003 and 2008, the energy performance of old buildings in Lower Austria had already improved from 280 to a median of 78 kWh/m²/y. 

Training and qualifications

Qualifications are seen as important for enhancing the reputation of the construction industry. Those targeted by the cluster’s training programmes include SMEs, architects, mechanical services engineers, plumbing and heating professionals, carpenters and other tradespersons. 200 entrepreneurs have already been trained in old building refurbishment in accordance with recognised standards. 

Market changes

The cluster management also provides input for building codes, financial incentives and awareness-raising for green building. It has been integral in turning what used to be a small niche market into a large market: up to 50% of new homes are now being built as passive energy homes.


Draft date

17/08/2011