The Slovenia Times

Green Buildings 'Just do it'


Buildings can make an enormous contribution to climate change mitigation. They consume a lot of energy and materials, affect the environment and are expensive to maintain. In Europe, buildings consume 40% of European energy, produce 39% of CO2, use half of all mined materials and produce a third of total waste. Therefore, they are placed in the heart of European policy as a part of an ambitious EU plan - Green Deal, by means of which the EU has set a goal to become the first climate neutral continent. This is the most important challenge and opportunity for our civilisation. We frequently forget that we spend almost 90% of time in buildings, and that buildings significantly affect our health, well-being, effectiveness and safety. 84 million of Europeans live in damp and unhealthy buildings, which is reflected in numerous illnesses.

Marko Lukić, manager and owner of LUMAR IG, explains the role of sustainable construction as one of the most effective means for improving our life and protecting the environment. It can contribute significantly to achieving global sustainability targets in the fight against climate change, quality living environment, creating sustainable and successful communities and promoting economic growth.

You are at the peak of your second career. You were at the summit of global mountain climbing. Then, in less than 20 years, you have developed one of the best prefabricated-sustainable building companies in the region. What is your recipe for success? 

I do not have a special recipe such as for baking a cake. Even top chefs add that final touch, which cannot be written down even in the best recipe. However, generally speaking I take a lot out of my climbing career. My recipe for success is to have clear values and to distinguish clearly between important and less important matters. And above all, to have a purpose in what you are doing. When I ended my climbing career, I decided that my business path will have the smallest possible effect on the nature and my environment. This was long before all the talk and writing about 'zero emissions' or 'low carbon'.

What was the course of development of sustainable construction in your company?

In Lumar, we recognised the potential and believed in new technologies and sustainable solutions more than a decade ago. We invested a lot into sustainable development of our own company as well as the development of standard solutions of sustainable construction. We became an integrator, developing and linking new technologies. That's how we created trends in the field of prefabricated and sustainable construction of private and public buildings. We took on pioneering projects. We are also participating in several development projects. Our first passive house was built in 2007, we built the first passive technology-based nursery in Slovenia in 2008, the first energy plus house in 2009, the first active house for experimental living in 2013. Energy efficiency was at the forefront of all those pioneering projects. Today, we have standard products and solutions that comprehensively consider sustainable construction, i.e. take into account key criteria for sustainable construction - living comfort, energy efficiency and environmental impact. We are offering these solutions on the market within the Lumar Zero Emission Living® concept.

How can people find out about the benefits of various standard solutions of sustainable construction that you develop? Where can they test them?

We want to provide an opportunity to the people to see the concept of standard solutions and products of sustainable construction in real life. Therefore, we incorporated all the aforementioned into our show house in Dragomelj, which is the first Slovenian active house certified by the Active House society from Brussels. In this house, people get acquainted with and test new technologies hands on. 

We are pleased that we have made our houses, which provide high quality of living and long-term financial sustainability, accessible to an average Slovenian buyer. However, we wish to achieve such level of construction for public customers too. 

We are also proud of our public building, a pavilion at the Milan EXPO world exhibition in 2015, which was rebuilt in Murska Sobota. It is an excellent example of proper sustainable planning and reuse, which is becoming increasingly important in construction. Among public buildings, we have two functioning nurseries and soon we will add a primary health care centre in Lucija.

You are also active in foreign markets. You opened a company in Austria. You have a show house in Vienna. Now you can compare sustainable construction in the region and wider first-hand. How would you rate the construction in Slovenia? 

In Slovenia, the awareness about low-energy construction is at a very high level, and quality and aesthetic standards of customers, at least those engaging Lumar, are at much higher level than of the customers in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, where we are present. This might seem unusual, but after 20 years of doing business in this field I dare to say that the combination of architecture, aesthetic, quality and sustainable construction in Slovenia is at the enviably high level. Slovenian customers have very high standards.

What it is like doing business in foreign markets with a Slovenian product?

Business on foreign markets is improving. We need to realise that from the 1990s, when Slovenia wasn't recognised and in heads still belonged to the Eastern Bloc, we have made a long journey. Today, there are world-class Slovenian companies such as Akrapovič, Pipistrel, Hidria and many others, acting as suppliers or providers of final products in global markets and through these, other companies have also been recognised as very high-quality. In fact, in Vienna we managed to establish within a very short period a quality company that started making profit in the third year already, and we are recognised and valued in the market by our quality and architecture. Apart from energy efficiency, our company is very much focused on quality design as well.

What are your challenges for the future?

The buildings we construct for a long-term mark the environment where they are placed, as their life span is at least 100 years. It means that we need to construct in such a way that the buildings placed into the environment create the lowest possible environmental burden. Our challenges relate to finding a way of integrating our houses with other industries - automotive, energy and IT - even further and intensively including modern disruptive technologies into the process of sustainable construction. Houses or buildings represent a convergence of various technologies and can achieve their maximum effects only if they are integrated. Of course, this poses a big challenge, as the construction is a traditional industry where people do not think about synergies, do not think long-term and are mainly focused on their product. This is just one of the reasons for construction being so expensive in terms of returns, however, I see this as a great opportunity for us.

What is your life motto?

Obama said, "Yes we can", but my motto is "Just do it", because only "we can" is not enough.


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