Project to supercharge sustainable innovation in built environments


A new EU-funded initiative is set to convene a powerful network of innovators to drive disruption and accelerate transformation of the highly traditional built environment sector. Launched under the umbrella of the Built4People Partnership, NEBULA is aiming to establish a network of Built4People Innovation Clusters (B4PICs), connecting and scaling innovation across Europe.

Commenting on the announcement, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) said that, at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, national governments failed to deliver the drastic emissions cuts needed to secure a liveable climate. Therefore, tt is now more important than ever that business and industry leaders step up and show the way to a sustainable future.

For the built environment, which contributes 39 per cent of global CO2, the future of the sector is at stake. Traditionally businesses in the sector have been slow to adapt and adopt new practices with R&D investment lagging well behind other industries.

The NEBULA project partners, Dowel, European Construction Technology Platform, Tecnalia, Nobatek, WorldGBC, R2M and Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), will convene the network of B4PICs with the aim to accelerate time to market for innovation in the sector, especially from Horizon Europe funded projects; foster cross-border collaboration and knowledge transfer amongst B4PIC members; and provide resourcing and guidance on key topics like financing, business planning and effective cluster operation.

Productivity has been shown to be up to 25 per cent higher in industrial clusters. So the B4PICs can help companies, large and small, incubate solutions, reach new markets and drive the transition towards the vision of the Built4People Partnership: a people-centric, sustainable built environment.

The partners will work with a cohort of front runner clusters, including Eraikune and Odéys and will leverage the convening power of the established MetaBuilding platform.

Over the coming three years, the project partners aim to connect five to seven B4PICs in key European markets, expanding over the seven year duration of the Built4People Partnership to see more than 15 B4PICs plugged into the network. Outreach to existing and potential new clusters will be supported by members of the WorldGBC Europe Regional Network of Green Building Councils (GBCs). GBCs in Croatia, Greece, Finland, Poland and Serbia will host outreach events and actively promote the project’s efforts.

“NEBULA is an exciting opportunity to catalyse change,” said Stephen Richardson, director of European Regional Network, WorldGBC. “Our sector is historically both conservative and fragmented, with 99 per cent of companies either SMEs or micro-enterprises. That all makes innovation difficult. Convening and connecting, as NEBULA will do, is undoubtedly the best way to overcome barriers and achieve the pace of change we need to tackle the climate crisis.”

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