The International Association for Sustainable Building and Living natureplus e.V. emerged from this year's General Assembly with a growing staff and once again an increased level of activity, which was held on 20th May as a web conference in English. An amendment to the statutes, which was passed without any dissenting votes, makes it possible to continue to hold the meetings virtually in the future, which, with the participation of numerous members from other European countries, means real progress for the grassroots. Nevertheless, the aim is to hold another meeting in person in 2022 in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the natureplus ecolabel in an appropriate manner.
President Rolf Buschmann's report listed numerous activities in the area of further education, information and lobbying over the past 12 months, in particular the two web seminar series on "Circular Economy" and "Healthy Building" in 2020 and the currently running seminar series on "Building Materials of the Future". Dozens of top-class speakers and usually more than 100 participants from numerous countries prove the attractiveness of this event concept.
Through a number of public campaigns within the framework of the "Building Turnaround Alliance" initiated by natureplus, the broad-based "Building Alliance", together with other environmental associations in the DNR and more recently with Architects for Future, it has been possible to help natureplus become better known in Germany and to promote the natureplus philosophy of holistic environmental assessment of building products throughout their entire life cycle. The public relations work was supplemented by a currently completely renewed homepage, regular monthly newsletters for a growing circle of subscribers and increased activities in the social media with hundreds of new followers. A steadily increasing or at least stable number of certified products, association members and customers are the result.
For autumn this year, Buschmann announced two more web seminar series - again partly held in English - on the topics of "Carbon sequestration in bio-based building products" and "Basic requirements for sustainable building materials". After a long period of preparation, natureplus has once again succeeded in acquiring government funding for its work. This will support the "Building Materials Turnaround" activities and a new study on "Sustainability in the Construction Supply Chain", which will be launched at the end of the year. Another funding application in the area of development cooperation is currently being submitted by natureplus together with some partners. It is important to Buschmann to involve the members of the association in all these activities. A working group is planned on the topic of "circular construction", which is to develop the basis for a new criterion for the natureplus label. In addition, a marketing commission is planned, which is to take care of making the label more practical to use for users and to better present its benefits.
For the Criteria Commission, the acting chairman Thomas Schmitz also reported on a wealth of new projects and tasks. The focus is on the ongoing digitalisation of the criteria sets and standards of the natureplus label, which is also accompanied by a standardisation and updating with changes to countless details. New is the work on an award guideline for insulation materials made of mineral fibres in special cases of application as well as the analysis of new scientific findings regarding the danger of biogenic emissions within the framework of the ongoing update of the natureplus emission requirements. The Commission will also be involved in projects on the circular economy and sustainability in the supply chain, as well as in a new climate protection initiative.
Despite the increased workload and the imponderables of the Corona pandemic, it has been possible to achieve a surplus in the mid five-figure range again in 2020, reported natureplus Managing Director Tilmann Kramolisch, and thus achieve a turnaround after the loss-making restructuring. In the current budget, increasing expenses for personnel, criteria development and support of the international structures are to be balanced out by increasing income from licence fees and additional state subsidies due to the good building economy. The auditors' report did not give rise to any objections. Uwe Welteke-Fabricius expressly paid tribute to the Executive Board and the management for their good performance and was able to confirm a healthy financial situation on the basis of his audits. Thus, at the request of Uwe Welteke-Fabricius, the Board and the management were discharged and the budget for 2021 was approved, in each case unanimously with one abstention.
With a preview of the events still to come in the web seminar series "Building Materials of the Future" and an outlook on upcoming dates, the event came to an end after a brief private exchange about upcoming discussions and an appeal to join in. About a quarter of the natureplus members, mostly organisations or companies, had participated and are now taking the natureplus ideas further into their areas of activity.