Building for the future
Experts in the building industry are working together in Lower Austria to ensure that both 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 sustainable building and living, passive housing and renewable energy.
So far, more than 200 cooperative projects involving some 200 partners have been initiated under the cluster, with training, information dissemination, public relations, qualifications and internationalisation featuring among the core services.
A network of know-how
The cluster is managed by the regional business agency ‘ecoplus’ and has a core team of five experts: architects, energy experts and professionals from construction and interior design. The cluster’s key aim is to link and strengthen existing Lower Austrian know-how in the area of sustainable building and living, notably through research work with universities, research institutions and technical schools. The cluster is an economic hub and network encompassing innovative local firms and all types of construction materials and substances. It is committed to the energy-efficient refurbishment of older buildings, and the construction of new, multi-storey buildings to passive house standards, healthy interiors, and enhanced living comfort.
To achieve its aims, the cluster management team’s services include: fostering cooperation (initiating, supporting and managing cooperative and R&D projects and establishing contacts); sharing information on the cluster via the website, newsletters, theme-based PR work through media reports, presentations, press conferences and industry events, and national and international trade fairs; and international networking.
Training and qualifications to strengthen industry
Qualifications are seen as important for enhancing the reputation of the construction industry, especially given the new, environment-friendly techniques and materials used. Those targeted by the cluster’s training programmes include SMEs, architects, mechanical services engineers, plumbing and heating professionals, carpenters and other tradespersons. So far, about 200 entrepreneurs have been trained in comprehensive old building refurbishment in accordance with recognised standards.
The cluster management also plays an important role in influencing the political and administrative framework for industry issues, such as 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 very significant market: up to 50% of new homes are now being built as passive energy homes, even in the most traditional timber home sector.