We were perfectly aware of the need to regenerate the environment in which we live, but the recent pandemic has made us reflect in depth. The Pope’s words echo in our heads as we reflect on the tragic events:
“We were fooling ourselves that we could stay healthy in a sick world” – Pope Francis.
We woke up and in one day we went from the culture of the mobility to the obligation of immobility, from the presumption of being the owners of the world to the fears for our health and our finances.
We found ourselves even more fragile. We had to face the consequences in the economy and in our lifestyles.
Despite all, we are reacting and adapting our self to the ‘new normal’. We are exploring ways to strengthen our bonds, learning from our children on how to adapt to an increasingly digital world. And while cities around the world are working to flatten the curve of infections and return to some form of normality, we realise that the world we are returning to may look less and less like the one we left behind.
It is in this setting that we, Ongreening team, have met the newly elected president of GBC Italia Marco Mari.
Ongreening: Marco, first of all, we wish you our heartiest congratulations on your new role at the GBC Italia. Congratulations are extended, of course, to all the newly elected GBC Italia Committee comprising 24 building industry leaders.
Marco Mari: Many thanks. The new GBC Italia Committee comprises 24 building industry leaders representing the entire supply chain, from design industry to construction, from producers to certification bodies, from real estate to policy makers. Among the remarkable professionals, Fabrizio Capaccioli, backed by ASACERT, will be the new Vice-president and Enrico Scalchi (backed by Italcementi) will be the new General Secretary at GBC Italia.
Ongreening: Your assignment begins in an unprecedented time. Massive challenges await us in a time of huge uncertainties. In your opinion, what is the most appropriate strategy to overcome this challenge?
Marco Mari: What is happening will challenge us, in new and previously unthinkable ways, to be resilient – both in business and in life – Every sector and individual will be required to adapt to the ‘new normal’ with rhythms and lifestyles that we couldn’t even imagine until today.
Our first goal to be pursued is to design a more resilient, sustainable, and healthy future for all. The GBC Italia, with our green community which leads the sustainable building industry supply chain, are already aware of these urgencies. The global pandemic has not stopped us. On the contrary, it has made our beliefs much stronger and our mission even more priority and vital.
For this reason, my commitment will be to continue to strengthen the actions already undertaken by the GBC Italia Council, following up on recent achievements.
We will continue working closely with the U.S.GBC and the World GBC Europe. For the latter, GBC Italia holds currently the role of vice president.
We will establish partnerships at international level, such as the ones already set up with U.S. GBC, IWBI, BRE, World GBC, World GBC Europe. At national level, additional partnerships will be set up with accredited verification bodies and industry associations, such as Legambiente, Assorestauro, INBAR, ANPAR, CNA, ReMIND, among the others.
Ongreening: The application of the Green Building Rating Systems is felt sometime tricky. What do you think may be done to further facilitate the implementation of these tools across the industry?
Marco Mari: Well, we will need to work on the upgrade of the rating schemes by starting from the learned experiences of the recent certification processes. We will need to continue putting efforts into the process of simplification.
At the same time, we will need to accelerate the definition and optimization of local protocols in order to enhance market penetration, launch a new protocol dedicated to multi-family residential building GBC Condomini.
Ongreening: What role does GBC Italia want to play in the international scene?
Marco Mari: Firstly, we would like to share our innovation skills with the international community of the Green Building. Our ambition is to make our proprietary GBC Historic Building (GBC HB) protocol adopted globally by a wider green community. Designed by the GBC Italia, the GBC HB is the world’s first rating system focused on the refurbishment of the historic building stock in a sustainable matter. The internationalization process of GBC HB will be carried in partnership with USGBC.
Secondly, we aim to be authoritative and inclusive. We represent all the energy-environmental protocols in the Italian territory, continuing to work closely in partnership with USGBC and the LEED protocols. Italy has recently become one of the first countries in Europe for the number of registered and certified LEED projects . We have also established our international agreements with IWBI for WELL, as well as with BRE for BREEAM.
Ongreening: On the other hand, what are the actions at national level that will involve GBC Italia?
Marco Mari: Without any doubt, we will pursue all the actions required to be influential. Over the past few years, GBC Italia has structured interdisciplinary technical task groups and published position Papers;
We have systematically increased advocacy actions and agreements with important institutions such as ISPRA (Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research). With ISPRA, we are currently collaborating on the draft for a new environmental approach on urban regeneration presented to the Undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of the Environment
We are also contributing to the enhancement of the minimum environmental criteria for the Green Public Building Procurement (CAM) with
the Ministry of the Environment. A specific task force is focusing on the application of the CAM on the regeneration of the historic building stock.
The above goes along the work we are undertaking with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage on the application of sustainability-related criteria to restoration works.
Additionally, cooperation has started with other national green building protocol authorities.
A very useful collaboration has started with the main national association, such as ASSORESTAURO, the Italian Association for Architectural, Artistic and Urban Restoration. With ASSORESTAURO and APTI (Association for Preservation Technology International), we have established a new APT Europe.
Our recent publication, GBC Italia Manifesto – A sustainable built environment for the Italy of the future, well states the GBC Italia’s vision.
Ongreening: How do you intent to be influential while engaging even more industry stakeholders?
Marco Mari: Being actively connected with the industry supply chain as well as engaging the banking organizations is paramount. I think of the redefinition of the credit risk assessment for new mortgages aimed at backing sustainable buildings. This must be performed coherently with the recent European Taxonomy Report defined by the EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.
In order to encourage the application of green and sustainable practices we will need to reinforce our presence at regional and local level, with the GBC Chapters. And set up a comprehensive educational offer with professional on-line training sessions.
Ongreening: What has been done by GBC Italia in recent years seems to be a well-defined route towards a sustainable future. What are the next important results you expect to achieve with your team as a newly elected president?
Marco Mari: We will face many decisions in the coming months and years on how to change our strategies to shape a more resilient, sustainable, and healthier future for all.
On one hand, the construction and real estate sectors continue to be the largest industrial sectors in economic terms. On the other hand, their use of resources impacts the environment massively, and we cannot afford to restart on the wrong foot.
Luckily, EU has set up an outstanding new growth strategy, the “Green Deal”, a challenging and innovative medium (2030) and long (2050) term economic policy program. It will mainstream the objective of sustainability and decarbonisation in all sector policies with the provision of clear rules and accountability measures.
To this end, strategic tools such as the “Taxonomy Report” and the “Renovation Wave” will aim to boost building renovation rates in the next ten years, while ensuring higher energy and resource efficiency.
The EU’s effort to drive green and digital transition will allow greenhouse gas emissions reductions while boosting the materials circular economy. 35 million of buildings energy retrofit and up to 160,000 new green jobs are expected by 2030 in the construction sector and beyond.
We will need to facilitate the adoption of the plan and associated measures in Italy. Working closely with the World GBC Europe we will set up case studies to inspire other Green Building Councils in Europe.
This is the effort we ask our Community to make together, to continue on our planned route, making us promoters of a sustainable ‘new normal’.
The whole world is facing a global crisis, but it is also the greatest opportunity for the planet and for us to fully understand the vision that GBC Italia first had in 2008. There is no more time to wait.
We hope that more and more enlightened minds will be able to join us and share the vision of the GBC Italia to make it come true.