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Great Progress, Big Plans

The Annual General Meeting of natureplus in Vienna.

Group picture of the natureplus members after dinner. Photos: natureplus

View into the Sonnwend quarter.

On 3 June 2019, the annual general meeting of the International Association for Sustainable Building and Living natureplus took place at the premises of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) in Vienna, with members from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. The focus of this year's meeting was on reports and planning, as there were no regular elections to be held.

Report of the board

In his report, Association President Dr. Rolf Buschmann was able to point to numerous successes in the reorientation of the Association and to progress in almost all areas of work: For example, the work of the Criteria Commission has intensified considerably with the publication of the basic guideline GL 5010 on test chamber measurements and the imminent conclusion of GL 5020 on the life cycle assessment criteria, as well as the processing of numerous product guidelines. By taking up its own lobbying activities - namely in Germany with the „Bauwende-Bündnis“ for the consideration of "embedded energy" in legislation and for the promotion of climate-friendly building materials - it was possible to establish broad cooperation with environmental associations and important players and to significantly increase the awareness and acceptance of natureplus.

In the field of public relations work, natureplus was mentioned more than 92 million times in the press and on the Internet in German-speaking countries in 2018. The natureplus website, the online database and the articles on social media platforms are also attracting more and more attention. natureplus has also been able to establish official natureplus representations in Switzerland and the Netherlands. The report ended with thanks to the staff inside the office and the partner organisations, not without a hint that a successor for Thomas Schmitz, who is retiring for reasons of age, will be sought at the end of the year.

Report of the management

Thomas Schmitz, Managing Director of the Association, presented the 2018 annual financial statements, which closed with a slightly positive result, the 2019 budget and an outlook for the planned development in 2020. According to this, a negative result is expected this year due to internal restructuring and increased personnel costs, which is covered by existing reserves. To return to a balanced budget in 2020, however, additional funds will be required, for example through the acquisition of new members and from subsidies. A proposal from Baubioswiss in Switzerland was discussed in detail, which basically had as its object an independent budget for the national representations. This proposal was rejected by a majority and the budget for 2019 was approved.

Educational work and campaigns

The responsible employee Ilka Voß explained the newly established educational work of the association. With the "Neckargemünder Gespräche", i.e. specialist events primarily for architects and engineers who are recognised by the Chamber of Architects as continuing education, natureplus has developed a format that has not existed in the continuing education landscape to date. Current developments in legislation (e.g. new state building regulations) or new planning instruments for sustainable building (NBBW) are presented here and brought into connection with natureplus. This format is to be developed on a broad basis in future in cooperation with other educational institutions. The topic of "digital learning" is also to be tackled in the future in the form of free webinars. Ilka Voß also explained the association's current research project together with IFEU in Heidelberg, which focuses on the recycling potential of insulating materials.

Employee Tilmann Kramolisch used the example of the „Bauwende“ alliance to explain the association's future campaign policy. Through a stronger public appearance with statements on current issues together with influential associations, natureplus tries to improve its public perception and thus also to create greater awareness and ultimately demand for tested products. Ultimately, the "Future of Building" conference organised the following day together with the WKO is an expression of this new course of growing with strong partners.

These ambitious goals and positive prospects convinced the assembled members: According to the auditors' report, the meeting unanimously approved the actions of the board and the management. Following the General Assembly, the participants went on a professionally guided tour of the newly emerging "Sonnwendviertel" in Vienna. New developments in urban construction could be clearly seen. Following a modern architecture and sustainable criteria, a new district with around 5,000 apartments for approx. 13,000 people is being built here directly at Vienna's main railway station.

This first day ended in an optimistic mood with a joint dinner. On the following day, the traditional natureplus congress was held this time in conjunction with the WKO conference "Future of Building" (see separate report).

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