NEB roundtable at the EPF Annual General Assembly in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The Wood4Bauhaus Alliance and the NEB Academy were presented in an open roundtable discussion about the role of NEB for buildings and construction. During this event the important need for more skills development and transdisciplinary research and innovation was highlighted.

The open session of the EPF Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on the 23rd of June 2023 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The day brought together the main actors of the sector to discuss the New European Bauhaus principles (beautiful, sustainable, together) and their influence on architecture, construction, and interior design.

The event started with welcome speeches by Goretti Sanmartín the Mayor of Santiago de Compostela; Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform (by video address); Martin Brettenthaler, Chairman of the European Panel Federation; and Manuel Alonso, President of the Nacional Association of Panel Manufacturers (ANFTA), which hosted the event.

The New European Bauhaus was introduced by Marcos Ros Sampere, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on NEB. Clive Pinnington, EPF Managing Director, presented a summary of the EPF annual results and work on certifications and recycling of products, urban trends in construction and furniture.

Roundtable 1: NEB in buildings and construction 

During this roundtable, the discussion focused on how wood and wood-based panels can positively influence beauty, sustainability, and inclusivity in line with NEB and circular bioeconomy.

Alicja Magdalena Herbowska, Deputy Head of the NEB unit of the DG Joint Research Center (JCR) of the European Commission, highlighted the EU support framework and funding opportunities for NEB projects. She presented the NEB Compass as a guiding framework proposing directions for the development and assessment of projects according to NEB values.

Andreja Kutnar, Director of InnoRenew CoE and Professor at the University of Primorska, Slovenia, presented the New European Bauhaus Academy Pioneer Hub for Sustainable Built Environments with Renewable Materials (NEBAP Hub). It was recently established at the above-mentioned University, with the aim of upskilling wood and bio-based materials, circularity, and sustainability in the construction sector. She clarified that the NEB Academy will offer both off- and online courses and that it will be focused on “train the trainer” sessions in its first phase.

Jose Pedro Sousa, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto and member of the High-Level Roundtable of the New European Bauhaus initiative, Portugal, addressed the role that digital design and robotic fabrication have in the development of new wood-based solutions for building design, aligned with the NEB values.

Antonio Carlos Rodrigues, CEO of Grupo Casais and Vice-president of the Association of Civil Construction and Public Works Industries, Portugal, spoke about the essentiality of a workflow between the wood industry, the structural timber design, and the real state to achieve environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the built environment. He also stated that it is usually the wood industry that provides solutions for building design and construction, although research and development of new wood-based hybrid solutions is needed.

Vanesa Baño, project manager and researcher at InnovaWood, the European network of wood research, innovation, and education, presented the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance. She emphasised the need to collaborate in an interdisciplinary manner to transform the construction sector using wood, from the forest to the buildings and cities. Foreseeing the increase of timber construction in Europe, a stable wood supply must be ensured in the long term. Hence, there is a need for diversification in the available wood species matrix for structural applications. This calls for additional research and innovation to develop hardwood-based products and construction solutions.

Roundtable 2: NEB in every life  

The second roundtable welcomed Edi Snaidero, President of the European Furniture Federation (EFIC), Rui Silva, Director for Relais & Châteaux in Spain & Portugal, Sebastián Molinero, manager of ANDIMAC, the association that represents the professional distribution of building and renovation materials, and Javier Míguez, Las Bodeguillas group manager.

They addressed the impact of new ways of living and working. The discussion showed how NEB is present in our everyday life, especially in the furniture industry and interior design. Bioeconomy, circularity, and wood recycling were the central themes of the exchanges.

About EPF 

The European Panel Federation exists to give our members a strong, collective voice in responding to the political, economic and technical issues that impact our industry and the ability of our members to grow their businesses. Working with our members, we make the case for the industry as an integral part of the EU’s bio and circular economy, while championing high standards of wood-based panel manufacturers and their contribution to a greener, more sustainable economy. EPF has members in 30 European countries. The EU wood panel industry has a turnover of about 25 billion euro every year and creates over 100,000 jobs directly in Europe.

More info: EPF AGM | EPF AGM Report (PDF) | EPF Annual report 2022-2023