Iztok Kamenski, MSc, the President of GBC Slovenia, warmly welcomed all the partners and other distinguished guests, pointing out the GBC's world growth and its activities in Europe, focusing on future opportunities, which include support to implementing of Level(s) in the area of building sustainability performance. The aim of Level(s), which is incentive tool of European Commission, is to raise awareness of better buildings among general public, developers and public procurement offices, and to improve knowledge of resource efficiency in the build environment to support better decision making on the part of designers, architects, developers, construction companies, construction product manufacturers, investors and building owners.
At the opening of the conference Mr. Aleš Prijon, secretary general of the Slovenian Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, stressed the government's support to GBC Slovenia and its efforts to cooperate and help to develop the framework of core indicators on domestic building's sustainable performance. He pointed out that the Slovenian way to reach national sustainability goals is currently connected to LIFE programme within CARE FOR CLIMATE project, funding opportunity for climate change and environment, which is managed by European Commission. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with an European added value.
GBC Slovenia was hosting also two representatives of the European Commission, Mr. Zoran Stančič, the representative of European Commission in Slovenia, and Mrs. Josefina Lindblom, who works at Eco- innovation and Circular Economy section of the Directorate - General for Environment in Brussels.
Zoran Stančič, PhD, focused on the building sector and its' huge environmental impact: ''The buildings sector is one of the most resource consuming sectors in Europe, accounting for approximately half of all extracted materials, half of total energy consumption and one third of waste generation. That's why the buildings sector is a huge potential and key target in the European Commission's Policy for circular economy to minimize resource and energy consumption. Level(s) is a sustainability framework of the circular economy, and offers a tierd approach to life cycle assessment.'' He also pointed out some new approaches in funding, which will be relevant for the projects in the field of protecting the environment in a new financial period after 2020.
Mrs. Josefina Lindblom was very happy to come to Ljubljana to join a very interesting discussion on sustainable buildings: ''Our buildings in Europe use 50% of all our materials that we extract, they use 50% of all our total energy consumption, and they generate one third of all our waste. Third of our waste is a construction demolition waste. So we see that buildings really use a lot of resources and that gives rise to environmental negative impact. At the same time we know that less than 1% of our buildings in Europe have been assessed for the environmental performance for their sustainability performance, and this is what we in the European Commission want to change. So we are giving some incentives, some ideas about what we should be taken into account, and how can we do that in a relatively simple way. We call that way, that tool – Level(s). We want of course different member states to pick up the ideas of Level(s), start to use some of the indicators and perhaps even include them in their regulatives or in public procurement. There are interesting steps going on in Slovenia, both on the ministry level and also in industry itself, so I'm quite hopeful that will be a part of this process.''
Hinko Šolinc, MSc, director of Eco fund, presented the Slovenian Environmental Public Fund, which was established as a legal public entity under the 1993 Environmental Protection Act. It was constituted as a non-profit, joint stock company, later transformed into a public financial fund. Its purpose is to promote development in the field of environmental protection. It is the only specialised institution in Slovenia that provides financial supports for environmental projects. The financial assistance is offered mainly through soft loans from revolving funds and since the year 2008 through grants. In comparison with commercial banks, Eco Fund’s principal advantages in the market for environmental financing are that it provides soft loans at lower interest rates than prevailing commercial market rates and it is able to lend for significantly longer periods than commercial banks. He pointed out the positive role of Eco Fund in the process of green growth and development achievement which can be further enhanced with the growth in the range of assets and tasks given to Eco Fund. Among co-financing Eco Fund's activities are involved also international financing institutions, such as International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), EC Phare and European Investment Bank (EIB).
Sabina Jordan, PhD, the representative of ZAG, the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute (ZAG - Zavod za gradbeništvo Slovenije), and Marjana Šijanec Zavrl, PhD from GI ZRMK, Civil Engineering Institute Ljubljana (Gradbeni inštitut ZRMK), work in a group of experts on the framework of Level(s) core indicators in Slovenia. They presented the slovenian study showing 3 phases of possible systematical implementation of selected indicators, co-related to the 6 macro- objectives of EU Politics regarding the building sustainabilty performance.
About importance of implementing Level(s), sustainability performance and circular economy in the building sector spoke also the partners, members of GBC Slovenia: representatives of Institute Jožef Stefan, Circular Change, as well as companies such as JUB, KNAUF Insulation, XELLA, Wienerberger AG, VELUX and aFRONT.