Steven Borncamp: How to accelerate green building in Europe

Editor’s note: Steven Borncamp will be speaking June 26-27 at Convergence Paris.

Steven Borncamp is passionate about expanding green building in every corner of Europe. The green building advocate wears many hats: co-director of the Construction21 international network, managing director of the Living Future Europe campaign, chairperson of the Europe Green Building Council Network’s Education Taskforce and founding president of the Romania Green Building Council.

An early proponent of sustainable development, Borncamp in 1993 joined one of the world’s first socially and environmentally responsible investment firms. After founding a consultancy that supported environmentally responsible businesses, he helped to develop seven green building councils throughout Europe. He also created several green building policies and programs to accelerate the green building marketplace in regions where it remained behind.

I recently spoke with Borncamp about his green building efforts.

Elaine Hsieh: In the context of the convergence of technologies such as energy, buildings and transportation, what are you working on that might be of particular interest to businesses and cities trying to enable radical efficiencies across their systems?

Steven Borncamp: One of the things I see that ties everything together in a multi-industry, multi-sector way and really combines technology and sustainability is exemplified in the property tax legislation initiative that we recently got passed in Romania in a fairly influential city. It rewards the greenest buildings and provides a significant property tax benefit for projects that obtain a green building certificate that's recognized by the World Green Building Council. Recognized certifications include LEED, BREEAM and the German DGNB, as well as other standards, including HQE for those in Paris. This has created a lot of interest in the city, in the building community and in investors that are seeking certification for their buildings and resulted in a lot of requests for new services, new technologies and new products that may exist elsewhere but are not present in that market.

In addition, the legislation has created new services and is starting to create pressure for new technologies that don't yet exist because it asks questions that drive energy performance, introduces green energy, etc. Green building certifications typically address very specific areas such as energy performance or how green the materials are for that specific building, but there are also more systemic requirements or criteria, such as trying to reduce the amount of traffic and possible fuel use associated with the building by encouraging public transit use, rewarding buildings that site themselves near other transportation, or providing incentives for alternative or low-emission or zero-emission vehicles.

Next page: The new "green mortgage"

Image: Romania Green Building Council, via Flickr