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WSB News - April 2014

La Vanguardia (Spanish newspaper) has published an article about us, World SB14 Barcelona Conference, written by the President of GBCe: Felipe Pich-Aguilera

28/04/2014 - Please, click here to download the article in PDF format.

Image La Vanguardia-WSB article

The Generalitat de Catalunya, new PLATINUM Sponsor of the World Sustainable Building 2014 Barcelona Conference

02/04/2014 - Last Wednesday 2nd April, the Catalonian Regional Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) ratified their commitment to the World Sustainable Building Conference, World SB14 Barcelona, with the signature of the Collaboration Agreement by which this Public Administration will officially become a Platinum Sponsor of the international event.


The Agreement was signed by Jaume Fornt i Paradell, director of the Catalonian Housing Agency (Agencia de L´Habitage de Catalunya), representing the Department of Territory and Sustainability (Departament de Territori i Sostenibilitat), and Felipe Pich-Aguilera, president of Green Building Council España, GBCe.
Within this Platinum sponsorship, the Generalitat will destine the economic resources to fund the attendance, travel and accommodation costs of professionals from Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries, with a per capita income below 10.000 USD.
Furthermore, the Regional Government will be responsible for organising three of the Conference sessions, debating the future and innovation of building in Catalonia, energy auto-sufficiency of housing and building life-cycle, as well as presenting the Housing Energy Restoration Project (RELS).
The new sponsors will also have a 36m2 exhibition space in the main exhibition hall, among other companies, entities and public administrations.
This is the first agreement that the Conference subscribes with any public administration. Luis Álvarez-Ude, CEO of GBCe, declared his “satisfaction with the clear expression of commitment from the Generalitat de Catalunya towards sustainability, with the clear objective of promoting the participation of speakers from the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) in this international Conference”.

Image Collaboration WSB

More than half of all Sessions at the Conference to be supported by public administrations, companies and other entities

02/04/2014 - The Organising Committee at World SB14 Barcelona, satisfied with the high degree of participation and implication of other stakeholders, such as governments and public administrations, NGOs and companies from all around the globe.


More than half of all Sessions integrating the World Sustainable Building Conference in Barcelona will be organised by entities and organisations outside the scientific and academic community from all over the world. With this step, the Conference marks the difference once more, setting itself as a real and active integrator of other social agents – governments, public administrations, enterprises, NGOs, etc. – in the debate around the social and environmental challenges that the building sector faces. Thus, Conference organisers hope to offer global answers that allow setting a process that comprises society as a whole, defining an Action Plan to solve these challenges.
Consequently, half of the 144 Conference Sessions will be supported by the academic and scientific community through the usual channels for these kinds of events: Call for Abstracts, Call for Papers…While the other half will count on the contribution of different entities, such as companies within the building sector. Aiming to see to the various participants’ needs, the Conference has created a different and innovative model: the Call for Sessions.
To date, World SB14 Barcelona has received 28 Session proposals from entities all around the world, contributions and participation from all stakeholders, guaranteeing truly global representation.

Organising Committee

The Scientific Committee selects the best summaries to be presented at the Conference

02/04/2014 - The Scientific Committee, formed by 75 experts from all around the world, has selected the abstracts that will be able to send in their communication before the 26th May.


Last 11th March saw the latest meeting of the World SB14 Barcelona Organising Committee. Open calls for participation were analysed, reporting on the development and evolution of the work towards this great event. The information shared could not have been better.
Upon summaries submission closure, Conference organisers have counted a total of 955 works received, from 58 different countries, widely exceeding the Scientific Committee’s expectations.
The selection process has been carried out by more than 75 experts from all parts of the world. Once summaries are selected and their authors notified, the period to present papers for revision before 26th May will open.
The Scientific Committee has valued the great amount of works received very positively, as such great participation guarantees the high quality of the final selection of Papers that will be presented orally or in poster form at World SB14 Barcelona.

Scientific Committee

SAINT-GOBAIN Group, new GOLD Sponsor of the World Sustainable Building Conference

02/04/2014 - Last 5th March, the GOLD sponsorship agreement for World SB14 Barcelona between the Saint-Gobain Group and GBC España, was signed.


Peter Hindle, Saint-Gobain Senior Vice President, Sustainable Habitat, and Luis Álvarez-Ude, CEO of GBCe, signed this agreement within the Ecobuild Fair in London.

Saint-Gobain is a multinational company that manufactures and commercialises energy efficient products and solutions, offering several features for sustainable building and restoration, making the company a world reference in Sustainable Habitat.

Saint-Gobain is present in 64 countries, with more than 1,000 businesses and 195,000 employees. In Spain, several of the companies within the Group such as Weber, Isover, Saint-Gobain Glass or Placo are GBCe members, cooperating directly in several activities and work-programmes.

In becoming a GOLD Sponsor, Saint-Gobain Group will immediately begin taking active part in preparations for the Conference. In fact, Alberto Coloma, Director of Saint-Gobain’s Habitat Project, participated in the last Organising Committee meeting which took place last 11th March. Furthermore, the company will enjoy an exhibition space in the Innovation Fair that will take place simultaneously with the Conference, as well as sponsoring two debate sessions, choosing the 4 speakers that will answer each of the questions posed by the Conference Scientific Committee.

According to Peter Hindle, Senior Vice President & Sustainable Habitat Manager at Saint-Gobain Group: “this sponsorship strengthens the commitment the Group has with Sustainable Building, showing total coincidence between the Conference goals and those of our company, who has been working on sustainable materials, systems and projects for several years now. We are very satisfied to play a part in making this world gathering a total success”.

On the other hand, Luis Álvarez-Ude, CEO of GBCe, showed great satisfaction at the Group’s support towards the Conference: “we feel proud and honoured to count on the presence and experience of the Saint-Gobain Group in this Conference. I am sure they will provide a very enriching vision, from the industrial perspective, to all those attending this event”.

WSB14 Gold Sponsor Saint Gobain

Interview with James Drinkwater Senior Policy Advisor of the GBC Europe Regional Network

02/04/2014 - “European GBCs will have an important role in WSB14 Barcelona”


Which will the GBC Europe Regional Network’s implication in the World Sustainable Building Conference?
The 38 GBCs that form the Europe Regional Network are working together in areas such as education, policies and in organising the sessions that we will present at the World Conference.
In these sessions we will address, from several points of view, the strategies that each country in the European Union follows in order to assess, in the best possible conditions, the restoration of the housing building stock; which are the laws needed in each country to obtain the 2050 objective of all buildings being nearly zero energy buildings; which is the needed regulation framework to promote energy efficiency in building restoration; and, last but not least, how all this is going to be financed.

In this sense, do we have any clues as to how we can pay for all this?

At present we have funds from the European Union approved until 2020. Now we must wait and see how these funds are distributed among the Member States so that we achieve the objectives that have been proposed in the European Union regarding building renovation.

Is there a common strategy in the 38 countries or are there different problems and sensitivities?

There are very different problems in each country, but we have a lot in common and especially when we talk about financial instruments. It would be impossible to talk about 30 different financial instruments. We must work to make them as similar as possible and thus raise interest in the financial world.

What unites us and what differentiates us?

The markets are at different levels. What worries most of us is how to achieve an efficient use of energy, but there are different approaches to this issue. For example, in the Netherlands, the Government is creating laws and regulations on materials in the public sector and interior building air quality. Their building sector is moving faster than in France, Spain or Germany. But what worries most of us is energy and we must start to think what more we can do.

Could financial issues be the greatest divergences?

Of course, in some countries the public and private sectors are working closely together, while there are other countries where the Governments are less open to working with the private sector, associations, NGOs and other stakeholders. We must not forget that to achieve total development of the sustainable building market, cooperation between the different sectors is essential.

Portrait of Mr. Drinkwater

Speaking of restoration, which EU Member States are at the forefront?
In Denmark, for example, there is a network created by the Government with nearly 200 stakeholders who have worked together to agree on a number of interventions that the Government must begin and is following. This way of working, under a common objective and with tight collaboration between the public and private sectors is an example for the whole of Europe.
This is just an example, other countries such as Italy or Ireland are also doing a great job and the interest from the rest of the countries in Europe is very important.

Do you know the work that the Working Rehabilitation Group (GTR) is developing here in Spain?

Yes, of course, it is a report that has placed Spain in a leading position in sustainable building. The GTR report is one of the only national visions that we have, at present, regarding housing restoration. This kind of vision does not exist in many other countries. It is a voyage that talks about the current situation, what can be done, what can be financed and what can be an example for many other nations.

I suppose sensitivities towards the building sector are also different among governments and public administrations?

Yes. It is one of the most important tasks we are carrying out at the GBC Europe Regional Network. We must take into account that the building sector is widely diversified and it is a problem for Governments to work with so many different agents and stakeholders with different needs. In this sense, GBCs carry out a facilitating job, working with all agents and emerging as speakers before Governments to achieve our objectives.

Apart from the global situation, which is the Europe Regional Network’s main goal at the World SB14 Barcelona Conference?

I believe the Europe Regional Network’s orientation is quite political. Recently in Istanbul we spoke about what each of the European GBCs expect of the Conference. For me, the main challenge is to reach society, a key issue. We can talk endlessly about stakeholders, but the main goal is to reach society.
Another challenge is the debate about affordable housing, one of the three key points within sustainability.

In Spain we usually say that while “the neighbour next door” doesn’t know the benefits of restoration, it will never be done globally. We could say the same of a farmer in Ukraine, an elderly man in Sicily…How can we reach all these people?

We are working with many companies to reach out to society and deliver all these processes. We have started different projects to bring the concepts we manage in sustainable building to all neighbours’ associations. It is also an educational issue that we can achieve through children.

You are very active in social media, mainly Twitter. Do you think social media can become a powerful dissemination and awareness raising tool?

Yes, without doubt. Until now, this was a debate topic between professional associations but, through social media, we are reaching more and more elements of society. At World GBC a lot of importance is given to social media and important work is being carried out to communicate through it.

As a closing note, our Conference theme is “Sustainable Building: Results. Are we moving as quickly as we should?”. If you had to give an answer to this question, what would you say?

Currently only 4% of the building stock in Europe, all newly constructed, is sustainable. If we consider the whole building stock we don’t even reach 1%. Our goal is to achieve between 40% and 70%, so we have a big challenge before us. That is why renovation and restoration are so important.

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