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InnoRenew CoE and Slovenian wood industry at the very top of European efforts against climate change and for the transition to circular economy

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, defined an extremely important strategic direction for the European, and thus Slovenian, wood industry during her first State of the Union address to the European Parliament on 16 September 2020.

In her prepared remarks, President von der Leyen said: “Our buildings generate 40% of our emissions. They need to become less wasteful, less expensive and more sustainable. And we know that the construction sector can even be turned from a carbon source into a carbon sink, if organic building materials like wood and smart technologies like AI are applied. I want NextGenerationEU to kickstart a European renovation wave and make our Union a leader in the circular economy.”

In September 2015, the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Slovenian Smart Specialization Strategy (S4). One of S4’s priority areas is Healthy Working and Living Environment, under which the scope of Smart Buildings and Homes, Including Wood Chain is defined. Priorities within this scope support smart buildings and homes and links this type of sustainable development to the country’s wood value chain.

This, combined with InnoRenew CoE’s commitment to the circular economy – the institute is a leading partner in the WoodCircus H2020 project and member of Slovenia’s Strategic Research and Innovation Partnership on the circular economy – places it fully in line with the priorities emphasized in President von der Leyen’s recent speech.

InnoRenew CoE employs 65 experts (45 of whom are excellent or young researchers) and has acquired more than 30 new projects, published 205 original and review scientific articles and undertaken construction of a new home, which will be the largest wooden building in Slovenia once completed.

The InnoRenew CoE building is a result of the institute’s own research and design and will itself be an experiment as researchers test new materials, learn the operation and behavior of large wooden buildings from incorporated sensors and develop methods to “smartly” manage them. InnoRenew CoE researchers will also explore how a working environment created with wood and other renewable materials affects employee health and well-being.

InnoRenew CoE activities also support efforts for policy preparation (for example, the Decree on Green Public Procurement) that would guide the transition of Slovenia and Europe to an innovative, renewable and knowledge-based society, which promotes circular economy and smart care (through information and communication technologies) for people’s health and well-being.

“We are convinced that with such policy and mobilization of the entire wood and related industries, Slovenia will successfully revive the wood processing industry and become a leading European country in the field of sustainable construction and circular economy,” said Dr Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE director.