The beginning of the Czech Green Building Council dates back to 2008 when two enthusiasts Petr Vogel and Petr Kotek from EkoWATT CZ and Jakub Holovský from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic received funding for their nonprofit project on green buildings by the British Council’s Climate Advocates Competition. They organized an international conference, the first of its kind in the Czech Republic, and created an interactive internet encyclopedia of Setrnebudovy.cz.
At that moment, American investment banker Ira Saul Rubenstein (Traficon, s.r.o.), who addresses both Peters at the conference, enters the scene. Ira proposes the establishment of the Czech Green Building Council to join the World Green Building Council. The whole team agrees with the idea and the project team starts to grow. A six-member enthusiastic group was formed: Ben Henderson (American Citizens Abroad), Eric Johnson (Gardiner & Theobald today Sentinent), Antonin Lupisek (FSv ČVUT) and Ira Saul Rubenstein with Petr Vogel and Petr Kotek.
"Back then it was definitely a fruitful and very successful time. Together with our then colleague Petr Kotek, we shared the same sincere and enthusiastic desire to change the construction industry in the Czech Republic. We spent a great deal of time and energy working on the project for days, nights and weekends. But it was also a team work. Neither Peter nor I had business experience back then. Ira brought us to the idea of the Czech Green Building Council (CZGBC) because he had experience of setting up the USGBC. At that time, neighboring councils were being established in Austria and Poland, " recalls Petr Vogel.
The Coordination Group has ensured registration of the organization, statutes, schedule of activities and, in particular, very much needed support from the group of founding members and recognized institutions such as CTU, National Technical Library, National Theater, British Council and the American Embassy in Prague. Foundations were also supported by many foreign Green building councils. The Czech Green Building Council was officially founded on September 15, 2009.
"The form of the business association seemed to us as the only one effective to achieve real shift in the green building market. Only a thing which makes a good business can become widespread. Many environmentalists are afraid of entrepreneurs, it is totally absurd. Besides, there have been successful examples of councils from other countries that have inspired us a lot. We did not step down a completely unplanned road. We were targeting progressive companies, those who set up building standards. We wanted to exchange know-how among companies, to cooperate on projects with trustworthy partners, to start influencing confused legislation and state support and start efficient marketing that would create the demand for green buildings," sums up Petr Vogel motives why he wanted to establish the Council.
The founding members of the Czech Green Building Council
The founding members are: Atrea, Autodesk, Cigler Marani Architects, Czech-Moravian cement, E & Z International, EkoWATT CZ, Gardiner & Theobald (today Sentinent), JRD, Sekyra Group, Schneider Electric, Skanska, Traficon, Zumtobel.
From September 2009 until the end of the year, the founding phase was running. The primary goal was to gain new member companies to support the Council. By the end of 2009, another 23 founding companies joined the Council.
In the next part of recollection, we will look back at the Council's first actions. We will remind ourselves of the first executive team and the challenges it faced.
See the gallery of photos taken at the opening conference and during the first CZGBC events. Do you recognize any faces there?