04 Jul 2023

ESG and innovation: CEO of Glavbolgarstroy presented the company’s vision at Green Week 2023

The CEO of "Glavbolgarstroy Holding," Svetoslav Lyubomirov, was one of the keynote speakers at this year's regional green transformation forum, "Green Week," which took place in the Bulgarian capital last week. During his presentation, Lyubomirov shared insights into the company's ESG strategy, its impact on business, and the importance of developing and implementing innovative practices in the construction sector.

"For us, sustainable development is ingrained in the behavior of the company's management, which we strive to convey to our employees. Glavbolgarstroy has been implementing sustainable development policies for a considerable time, focusing on environmental protection, public relations, and the company's assets, including human, material, and financial resources. All of this is done in line with our moral commitment to nature, society, and all stakeholders," noted Lyubomirov.

"This is part of our DNA, we achieve it by implementing high technologies in production, in management systems, but above all thanks to the expertise of our employees. ESG standards can be achieved if we convince our colleagues that we should go this way. For me, this is the truth," said the CEO of GBS categorically.


Sustainable development with an example from 20 years ago


Illustrating sustainable development with an example from 20 years ago, Lyubomirov recounted a project on the Black Sea coast. Local authorities initially prescribed discharging treated wastewater into a local micro-dam, which was deemed potentially hazardous upon site inspection. With the assistance of domestic and foreign experts, a decision was made to construct a deep-sea outlet on the Black Sea's bottom, spanning over 2 km. This required a challenging 6-month coordination process and obtaining the necessary permits. Additionally, Glavbolgarstroy invested in an innovative wastewater treatment plant. The environmental impact, particularly on sea biodiversity, far outweighed the financial resources invested, highlighting the company's commitment to sustainability.

"When initiating new infrastructure projects, GBS conducts thorough assessments to identify operating and non-operating quarries for aggregate extraction, in accordance with the Ministry of Environment and Water. This is done to minimize transportation distances and reduce the carbon footprint. We prioritize environmental protection, even if it may not be economically expedient for the company, as we consider the cumulative effect essential," added the head of Glavbolgarstroy.

Two notable innovative projects implemented by Glavbolgarstroy were also highlighted during the event.

The first project, Mobicon-Pro (MOBICCON-PRO), involves a mobile pilot plant for the production of high-quality recycled building materials, which will subsequently be introduced to the market. This project, funded under the Horizon Europe program, was initiated by young colleagues at Glavbolgarstroy and implemented by an international consortium consisting of five countries: Belgium, France, Bulgaria, Denmark, and Serbia's Pirot municipality.

Collaboration includes participation from businesses, academia, and the non-governmental sector, with notable contributions from the University of Architecture, Construction and Geodesy, the Danish Institute of Technology, and CY University of Paris.

Photocredits: Ivan Kolovos

Addressing the issue of construction waste, which poses a burden to the industry, the project aims to generate additional materials and products for production, thereby contributing to the green transition.


An example of a circular economy


The mobile plant encompasses various equipment, prototypes, and installations for crushing, screening, separation, purification, and washing, resulting in clean, recycled materials that can be used without further processing. Glavbolgarstroy envisions the replication of these innovative approaches in other Bulgarian municipalities and the wider Balkan region.

This solution addresses the challenge of construction waste, which is a burden for the industry and often harms the environment. "We are confident that by implementing this solution, we can obtain additional materials and products for production, supporting our transition to a greener approach," emphasized Lyubomirov. The project involves a set of machines and equipment that generate clean, recycled material, eliminating the need for additional processing. This helps close the recycling loop and was explained by the head of GBS Holding.

The project's mobility aims to extend the innovative approaches to other municipalities in Bulgaria and the wider Balkan region. Apart from processing construction waste and investing in construction, the project also includes the construction of an innovative crushing plant with a new type of mechanical drive - a power pulse generator. This innovation is expected to achieve higher energy efficiency in processing one ton of material.

The overall goal is to share these ideas widely with all stakeholders. To accomplish this, the project envisions the establishment of a Territorial Cluster Center that will synthesize, process, and disseminate information on the progress of construction waste processing to interested parties who register on its electronic platform.


Energy innovation


Another project implemented by a large international consortium with 12 participants from around the world focuses on energy innovation: producing NRG foam embedded in thermal insulation material to replace conventional synthetic thermal insulation.

The project, named "NRG-STORAGE*" is financed under the "Horizon 2020" program, which recognizes achievements, discoveries, and innovations, facilitating the transition of revolutionary ideas from the laboratory to the market. Glavbolgarstroy is the first Bulgarian construction company to secure funding under "Horizon 2020," as stated in a message on the holding's page dated May 14, 2020. The project targets non-residential buildings and aims to achieve 25% better insulation capacity and at least 10% higher energy storage capacity.

The proposed multi-functional and energy-saving foam (NRG-foam) will exhibit a high degree of water tightness and insulation (10-25% higher than existing solutions) and offer at least a 15% lower value compared to current products in the European market. The foam will actively and passively manage energy transfer and will be applied to new building insulation. The addition of graphene-based nano-additives will improve thermal storage capacity, volume stability, and mechanical properties of the final product.

In addition to technical universities from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain, the international consortium includes industry representatives, small and medium-sized enterprises from the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Argentina, and Spain.

As the sole representative of the construction sector, Glavbolgarstroy is responsible for constructing the demonstration buildings in the country and applying the facade elements in collaboration with the German RÖSER Ingenieurbeton. According to the project, three different coatings are installed on the three facades to ensure an optimal comparison of results.

"We have completed the construction of the demonstration buildings and insulated them with this material. The monitoring period has now begun," said Lyubomirov.

Over the next two years, experts will track building performance, including thermal insulation and energy storage (using temperature sensors), air and surface temperatures, weather resistance, thermal bridges, weak insulation points, and energy efficiency in terms of heating and cooling energy consumption.

Svetoslav Lyubomirov expressed his conviction that this material signifies the future due to its complete recyclability and its positive impact on the environment.


*"NRG-STORAGE" - Nanocomposites in non-Residential building envelopes for Green active/passive energy (NRG) STORAGE