On 10th June, the Annual General Meeting of natureplus association took place for the first time as an online event. In the report of the Board, presented by the President, Rolf Buschmann, the increased activities since 2019 in the areas of co-operation and lobbying were highlighted. In particular, the commitment within the "Bauwende-Bündnis" for the consideration of "Grey Energy" and the CO2 footprint within the state building subsidy scheme is now showing results. Public attention and numerous publications also resulted from the insulation study conducted jointly with IFEU. The Association has recorded a stagnating number of members, as admissions and withdrawals unfortunately balance each other out, and a pleasingly steady increase in the number of customers and certificates for the natureplus Ecolabel. Although, due to the current circumstances, the planned major event about the Circular Economy must take place as a series of Webseminars, good participation is becoming apparent here; most interested parties are booking the whole series immediately.
Further development of the natureplus criteria
Hildegund Figl, its chairperson, reported on the work of the criteria commission from Vienna. The focus here is currently on the introduction of the new natureplus-guideline GL5020, with which differentiated limit values for primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions are introduced for the first time. The previously practiced calculation of life-cycle assessments to produce building products within the framework of the natureplus-assessment will thus be upgraded, simplified and refined to a few parameters. The great interest shown by the industry in this new assessment instrument was demonstrated by a strong participation in the hearing. In addition to the new GL5020, it will soon also be a question of new requirements regarding the cyclability of materials, several smaller new projects and the major project of an overall revision and updating of the natureplus criteria catalogue.
Little financial reserves left
The management's report was mainly concerned with finances. Thus, the now retired former managing director Thomas Schmitz had to report considerable losses in the financial year 2019, which have almost completely eaten up the financial reserves of the association. This was due to the costs of restructuring the association with the spin-off of the natureplus Institute SCE Cooperative and the establishment of a personnel reserve for the succession in the management. The budget for the current year, presented by the new managing director Tilmann Kramolisch, also had to be put on the back burner due to the lack of hoped-for subsidies and the already noticeable effects of the Corona pandemic. After all, the association will achieve a small plus again this year. The financial auditors attested that the responsible persons had a proper financial management. In the end, the assembly unanimously approved the discharge for the year 2019 and the budget for 2020 with only a few abstentions.
In the elections for the voluntary Board, all current members of the Board ran again, i.e. Uli Steinmeyer (ÖkoPlus, Germany) for Division A (Trade), Gerhard Koch (Association of Austrian Brickworks) for Division B (Manufacturers), Dr. Rolf Buschmann (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) for Division C (environmental protection), Barbara Bauer (Austrian Institute for Building and Ecology) for Division D (consumer protection), Bosco Büeler (GIBBeco Cooperative, Switzerland) for Division E (planning and construction industry), Paolo Foglia (ICEA, Italy) for Division F (testing institutes), Hartmut Koch (IG Bau, Germany) for Division G (trade unions) and Heinz Amolsch (Germany) for Division H (individual members). There were no opposing candidates, and in a secret ballot all candidates were re-elected unanimously, without dissenting votes and with only a few abstentions. In the subsequent internal vote, the Board of Directors re-elected Dr. Rolf Buschmann as Chairman (President) and Bosco Büeler as Vice-President.
The new, Corona-based form of event was well received, with around a third of the members attending and taking advantage of the possibilities offered by video conferencing technology. The participation of the members through requests to speak, chat contributions and the possibility of anonymous voting was well organized in advance and was also actively used. Before the actual meeting started, some member organizations were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and their work, which further strengthened the impression of a lively assembly. In the end, the Annual General Meeting took place in a concentrated and smooth manner in this form, which was new for all of them – a very promising format for an internationally active association, because it was much less expensive.