On Tuesday, 5 June 2018, the annual general assembly of the natureplus association took place in the Bauarena Volketswil (Switzerland). In addition to the usual reports, the agenda also included elections to the Board and some motions.
In a welcoming address at the beginning, outgoing President Uwe Welteke-Fabricius expressed his thanks for the support during his more than ten years in office and drew a positive conclusion about the development of the association. Rolf Buschmann of the German environmental organisation BUND presented the Board's report. He emphasised that the work of the natureplus association is more important than ever, because the climate goals of Paris threaten to be missed and natureplus stands like no other label for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The natureplus activities were targeted at construction professionals and government institutions across Europe, who are to be encouraged to use sustainable building materials through increased information and lobbying activities.
Buschmann sees the development of the natureplus association on a solidly growing basis: "The number of certificates and certified products is rising continuously, the number of members has also been constant for years, although the imbalance between Germany and the rest of Europe is particularly apparent here. The number of contacts via (mainly) print and electronic media, which has risen to over 60 million, is pleasing." With the spin-off of the natureplus Institute, the focus has shifted towards information provision and knowledge transfer, which also creates new tasks for the national representations. The Criteria Commission, as the scientific heart of the association, has given itself new rules that ensure greater involvement of the public and stakeholders in the development of criteria.
Report of the Management
In his report, natureplus managing director Thomas Schmitz was able to report on numerous activities and new further training opportunities offered by the association. The new homepage of the association, now also in the English version, focuses on service and information and is now also suitable for mobile devices. The successful cooperation with associations such as the DGNB and the DUH in Germany was particularly important to him. Although the natureplus Institute is not yet fully independent due to legal problems, the division of labour between the association and the institute is already proving itself.
The figures presented by Schmitz were impressive: in 2017 natureplus recorded the best result in its history due to revenue growth of 3 % compared to 2016 and expenditure reductions of 7 % and can therefore make further investments on a solid basis. This includes in particular the hiring of new employees and increased project costs. The joint research project with IFEU Heidelberg, which focuses on the life cycle assessment of insulating materials taking into account the post-use phase, is a particular highlight. Finally, Schmitz announced that he intends to retire in mid-2019. In any case, he wants to continue to serve the association in an advisory function.
After the cash audit report without critical remarks and the unanimous discharge of the board and the management by the meeting, a new board had to be elected. According to the new statutes, 8 persons were to be elected as representatives of the 8 branches of the association. The management presented a complete list of candidates, which was unanimously approved by the meeting. The following persons have thus been elected to the new Executive Committee for two years (in alphabetical order):
- Heinz Amolsch (individual member Germany)
- Barbara Bauer (IBO Austria)
- Bosco Büeler (GIBBeco Switzerland)
- Rolf Buschmann (BUND Germany)
- Paolo Foglia (ICEA Italy)
- Gerhard Koch (VÖZ Austria)
- Hartmut Koch (IG-BAU Germany)
- Ulrich Steinmeyer (ÖkoPlus AG Germany)
From their midst, the Board members appointed Rolf Buschmann as the new President and Bosco Büeler as Vice President (as before). Rainer Fertig (SGBD Germany) and Uwe Welteke-Fabricius (individual member Germany) were elected as financial auditors.
Finally, two motions of the Board had to be discussed and voted on. The first application was for a Europe-wide Internet platform for the exchange of experiences, market developments and legal regulations in connection with sustainable construction and sustainable materials. Here, news, event reports and presentations of specialist seminars are to be made available to all interested parties, as are new scientific findings and ecological procurement programmes of public institutions. This platform, for which a new person will be responsible at the headquarters this autumn, will be shared by all natureplus members and network partners and will also be accessible to the public, at least in some areas.
While this motion was adopted unanimously without much discussion, there was some need to discuss the second motion. Here basic requirements for the work of the national representations are described, which can be briefly summarised under the headings Lobbying, Awareness and Cooperation. In financial terms, the national representations are to be given greater autonomy, but also more personal responsibility.
After the end of the meeting, Jörg Watter from Baubioswiss presented the state of planning for the exhibition and the sustainability centre AIFORIA in the Bauarena, the place where the meeting took place. Here, an information and interactive experience concept is about to be implemented, which will make this location near Zurich an interesting centre for sustainable construction throughout Europe. The concept is aimed at building owners and schools as well as architects and craftsmen with its numerous training courses. An impressive number of associations and organisations, including natureplus, support this project of the non-profit foundation AIFORIA, which is already going to be implemented in a similar form on other continents.