Blog 7 - Center is a sustainable building benchmark for Slovenia
Our new Experience Center is a milestone for sustainable building in Slovenia and will hopefully have a positive impact on the future of European legislation, says the auditor helping Knauf Insulation achieve DGNB certification for the building.
The center will be Slovenia’s first building to be certified by the Green Building Rating System DGNB and Robert Smodiš has been ensuring the audit process goes smoothly.
“The project is an important benchmark for possible projects in Slovenia both in the public and private sectors through certification-related activities such as lifecycle assessment, lifecycle costing or an overview of embedded materials,” he says.
“The experience has also revealed the challenges of ensuring sustainable building quality, but we hope the project will contribute to future sustainable construction measures in Slovenia.”
The importance of the project extends beyond national boundaries. The center is contributing research to Level(s), a European Commission building sustainability pilot project designed to assess the environmental impact of buildings over their entire lifecycle.
The building is a key source of information that could unlock a better understanding of Europe-wide construction, says Robert, provide a common language of building sustainability across the European Union and possibly reshape future EU sustainable legislation.
The DGNB auditor is uniquely placed to understand the importance of the new centre. He is an architect, head of product development in a building materials company and was also the initiator and first president of the Green Building Council of Slovenia.
Robert says: “Level(s) could have a very positive effect, particularly if measures are specifically selected according to local conditions, but with the same goal of sustainability. This should also help lead to greater sustainable construction in less developed parts of Europe.”
Naturally, throughout construction of the centre, there have been challenges. Contractors have had to learn to carefully document their processes — which is time-consuming but vital — while materials also have to meet strict DGNB standards, but Robert says it is crucial that everyone views the project as an opportunity to gain valuable new experience and expertise.
DGNB and other Green Building Rating Systems are new to the Slovenian construction industry, but Robert is optimistic that the Knauf Insulation Center will help highlight the benefits of certification to future owners such as long-term savings, planning risk management and, of course, its contribution to the environment.
A sustainable approach to construction is vital, says Robert, because Europe’s buildings consume 60% of resources, produce up to 60% of all waste and pump out 40% of all emissions.
“In Slovenia, the average temperature has already risen by almost 2ºC since 1961 and in the eastern part of the country, summer temperatures have increased by 2ºC to 3ºC, the consequences are already visible.”
Although the country has managed to increase building energy efficiency in the past decade, energy consumption has remained static as the number of people per living space has doubled, says Robert. This has led to greater pressure on construction material consumption.
“There are huge challenges. But I have to remain optimistic because sustainable buildings are a necessity for our generation. We have a lot of opportunities that are not being used and I hope that with the Knauf Insulation project we can take a step closer to activate the potential of making our build environment more sustainable for the future.”