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Austrians want to bring European Building Experience to the U.S.

February 26, 2010

“Opportunities for Austrian Companies in the U.S. Greenbuilding Industry” study presented in Austria

Austria’s experience in constructing environmentally sustainable and energy efficient buildings can be valuable in accelerating the green building movement in the U.S. In order to inform Austrian companies about the potential for cooperation with U.S. partners in the growing greenbuilding industry, the Austrian Trade Commission in Chicago published a study titled “U.S.A. Greenbuilding – Opportunities for Austrian Companies”. Study author Mr. Nabih Tahan believes that Austrian experience, knowledge and products are valuable assets that can be leveraged on the U.S. market. “It is however important for Austrian companies entering the U.S. market to develop a clear understanding of the U.S. building industry, and adapt their product or system to the U.S. industry”, says Tahan. The study was presented at industry events in Linz and Vienna, Austria in February by Mr. Tahan and Austrian Trade Commissioner Franz Roessler. As a next step, a group of Austrian companies would like to get personal insights and will attend this year’s Greenbuilding Show in Chicago in November, 2010.

The study identifies major areas of opportunity available to Austrian companies. These include architectural, engineering and energy consulting to improve the entire building, an integrated approach to design and construction; developing high performance building products; and introducing the modern, industrial home building (“Fertighaus”) industry to the U.S. Industrial home construction could be the answer to integrating many of the above competencies into one successful solution.

Austria, as well as all EU countries, is poised to bring the benefit of its experience to the U.S. The Building Performance Certificate, which measures building energy use, is required for all perspective buyers or tenants in the EU and will sooner or later also be required in the U.S. There are indications that a transformation is taking place in the U.S. that is similar to the development of the building rating system and lower energy requirements that took place in Austria over the last few decades. The design and construction of high performance buildings and the accurate measurement of building performance require specialized knowledge and training. The experience gained by a generation of Austrian architects, engineers, builders and product manufacturers will be a valuable asset for their counterparts in the U.S.

In the study, author Mr. Tahan shares his own personal experience in developing projects in California and Austria. In 1996, Mr. Tahan developed a 15-unit condominium project in Feistritz / Drau Austria by adding 2 stories of wood frame construction on a 50 year old, massive barn. Mr. Tahan returned to Berkeley in 2006 and remodeled his old home with the goal of meeting the European passive house standard. Today, Mr. Tahan is the principal of BauTechnologies, an architectural, engineering and energy consulting firm in California.