Sustainable public buildings in Vorarlberg: Strategy and tools


Vorarlberg is one of the most advanced regions in Europe concerning sustainable building, energy efficiency and environmental awareness of inhabitants, local decision makers and building professionals. It is also well known for its modern and timber architecture. The goal of the province Vorarlberg is to become energy autonomous in 2050.

The first sustainable public buildings have been built in the late 90ies of the past century (e.g. “Öko-Mittelschule Mäder”). The “Eco-Guideline Sustainable public construction” was published in 2000. From 2002 to 2005 the Umweltverband, the Association of Vorarlberg municipalities for environment, assisted the first two municipalities (Langenegg, Ludesch) by implementing the Eco-Guideline criteria. We realized that an advisory service on ecologic improvement of the building through the whole process was needed. That´s why we started with the “Service package sustainable construction in Vorarlberg” for supporting municipalities in their building projects (see blog below). We are very proud that we got the chance to accompany 54 different renovation and new building projects. Here you can get an impression of our work and the results.

First step: How to convince decision makers?

  • By focusing on lifecycle costs and not on investment costs.
  • By making sustainable construction cost efficient: it is important to define the energetic and ecological standard in an early stage
  • By getting a better air quality an less environmental impact for only 2 % extra costs due to an environmental friendly choice of material
  • By initializing a competition between municipalities: each one wants to be the best
  • And the most important: showing them that implementing sustainable construction is easier than doing it in a conventional way by offering an advisory service from the very beginning of the process.

 Subsidies for sustainable public buildings

In the year of 2011 the government of the province of Vorarlberg decided to give more subsidies to municipalities if they intend to build or renovate in a sustainable way. The tool to measure the sustainable performance of public buildings is the “communal building pass” (more information in German on our website ).

The communal building pass:

  • Is a benchmark for ecological an energetic quality of buildings
  • Is an open source tool in an excel template
  • Regulates the subsidies the municipalities get from the county of Vorarlberg: maximum 4% higher subsidies of usual 20-30% aids; also up to 9% higher construction costs can be taken into consideration.

Optimization of the use of public buildings

Within the MountEE project we are going to develop and test a new module of the advisory service package: “module 5: facility management”. The aim is to offer an advice for optimize the operation of housing services and the cleaning services. Both factors have to be taken in consideration from the very beginning of the building concept? how can we minimize the energy consumption during its whole life? What kind of material is appropriate for environmental friendly cleaning products?… Results of the test phase of this new module will be available in the autumn of 2013.

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