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LIFE-BASED LIVING ECONOMY: JELOVICA FOUNDED ON WOOD

Founded in 1905, Jelovica is a company with a very long Slovenian tradition. Since its inception its business has always been connected with a range of wood products and in recent decades, this has mostly included wooden windows, doors and prefabricated wooden houses. Throughout history the company has sailed in calm and stormy waters. At the beginning of this century, Jelovica lost most of its markets and sought new opportunities. However, the business environment also changed. Company modernization and a review of the vision was crucial for the newly successful era of integral "green" Jelovica (see Figure 14.4). Wood, although a "high-tech" product of nature, is still used all too often in inadequate ways, with a lack of innovation and lack of added value. The mission of Jelovica is to change that. Forests and wood are an important sink for carbon dioxide and storage for carbon. Wood is an environmentally friendly material and the only material that can be used fully in the entirety of all its lifecycles – even after the end of its life span.

In 2012 the company received an award for being the most environmental company in Slovenia. This year they have received many invitations to various initiatives, innovative projects or programmes to encourage and move a whole society toward green, sustainable, nature- and human-friendly living. Their wooden kindergarten, specifically, was identified as an example of best practice because it can be easily replicated and has, as such, a positive impact on nature, local communities and people in the whole cycle of production, usage and demolition of the building.

Becoming Flexible and Responsive

Since taking over Jelovica at the end of 2007, its new chief executive Gregor Ben ina, with a new team, introduced a number of changes into a company that many thought had no future. Today, Jelovica has not only revived its fortunes but is showing that Slovenia's wood industry has major strategic potential for investors, both at home and abroad. From 2008, in Jelovica, management started with changes that followed some basic values and provided a vision of the "company to be". What this meant was that everything related to wood should, of course, be environmentally friendly and energy-saving. Jelovica's products,

Jelovica – Green Company

Figure 14.4 Jelovica – Green Company

processes and way of operation needed to become sustainable. Going green should not just be a buzz word but a way of business. These were the guiding principles on which they decided how to change the company.

The challenge was how to create a more flexible company that would be able to respond to the requirements of the different and demanding markets. Through the constant development of new energy-saving products and sustainable, emission free processes, the company achieved more and more recognition both at home and abroad. Consequently, Jelovica has become an important international player in the production of energy efficient prefabricated wooden houses and wooden windows, with the related services that it offers. A lot of the focus was not only on the sale of the products, but again on redefining the scope of the product. In this way, value was added to the company.

Сentre for Energy Efficient Solutions

Due to recent investments in knowledge and technology, thereby partnering with several universities in Slovenia, Jelovica today is able to realize the most demanding of projects. These involve building, out of wood, not only customized individual houses, but kindergartens, schools, hotels and more. Jelovica now has a presence in Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

Co-operating with experts from different education institutions, Jelovica researches and tests new products. Constantly searching for new energy-saving construction systems and other natural materials, through which Jelovica develops new guidelines in the construction of prefabricated buildings, gives the company an important innovative boost, thereby being both flexible and responsive to market demands. In 2012 Jelovica opened a modern and innovative sales channel called the CER – Centre for Energy Efficiency Solutions. A new business model, where the customer gets information, can consult with the company and can attend different educational events on energy efficient means of construction, will be implemented in Slovenia as well as abroad in neighbouring Croatia in cooperation with more than 15 companies.

By installing a new solar power plant on the roof of Jelovica's factory in Preddvor, they have mastered the sustainable production of prefabricated wooden houses and buildings. Today, they gain more power and thermal energy from natural renewable sources than they consume in the production process. In addition to the energy from the new solar power plant, some is also generated by their own hydro power plant and from scrap wood. Energy needs are therefore entirely satisfied from renewable sources: biomass, sun and water. With their sustainable production they are responsive to the local environment and integrate well into the strategy of the Municipality of Preddvor – where their plant is located – as a green municipality.

 
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