Dialogue event: Construction sector debates value chain eco-innovation

16 April, Graz – A value-chain eco-innovation dialogue event was jointly organised by Greenovate! Europe and Styrian Energy Agency on 16 April 2015 in Graz, Austria, in the framework of the greenXpo project. Focusing on the construction sector, the event brought together over 130 participants, including urban planners, architects, policy makers, public investors, and public funding agencies, to discuss the potential for value chain eco-innovation.

Participants debated issues such as: “What materials and concepts meet the requirement of sustainability?”, “Who introduces eco-innovation in the value chain and how do other players in the value chain react to it?”, and “What are the barriers to eco-innovation in the entire supply chain?” Part of the discussion was also devoted to adequate support mechanisms, which could facilitate eco-innovation and co-operation in the supply chain.

Industry experts distinguished the four most common types of eco-innovation in the sector: a new product (e.g. new raw material, or new design through eco-design), a new process, an innovative way of handling interfaces in the value chain, and a re-design of the whole production process. They also confirmed that the potential of industrial supply chain eco-innovation is far superior to the potential of individual company eco-innovation. Participants have pointed out, however, that there are multiple barriers hindering eco-innovation in the sector. These exist at single company, value chain, and sector levels.

In addition, it was recognised that society has an important role in encouraging eco-innovation, and that eco-innovation could be facilitated by lighthouse projects which can demonstrate feasibility and raise awareness of green technologies. A suggestion was raised that public tenders should include Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Cost (LCC) analysis in their criteria to promote sustainable buildings.

The potential for eco-innovation along the value chain will be discussed again during a dialogue event for the pulp and paper industry. The meeting is scheduled to take place in early May in Sweden.

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