Czech innovator receives Outstanding Young Person Award

Off-grid house by Petr Čmelík and Martin Stark, photo: official website of Český Ostrovní dům

Pavel Podruh, founder of the Czech start-up Self-Sufficient Houses, has become the first Czech ever to receive the prestigious Outstanding Young Person Award presented by the Japanese branch of the organisation Junior Chamber International. The Czech innovator was awarded for promoting the idea of ecologically friendly housing and for innovations in the field. I asked him to present his winning project in more detail:

Pavel Podruh,  photo: Barbora Linková / Czech Radio
“We are still a fairly small project even though we include dozens of cooperating people and companies. We started as a small architectural competition for students but throughout the years the competition grew and people started to be interested in what we do.

“So we focus on houses that are at least partially self-sufficient in terms of energy and water treatment. And gradually the project grew and even though there was no massive plan to become a big organization, it somehow happened.”

So what exactly is the aim of your project?

“Basically, our mission is the same as it was in the beginning. Our aim is to accelerate the transition to more sustainable technologies in our households. So all the activities that we are doing always have to check with this mission.”

You also launched a competition for university students asking them to make their own project for an off-grid house. Will any of these winning projects be built?

“Yes, actually, just next week, I am changing my suit and tie for working clothes and we are going to build the first two- off-grid houses proposed by students in the first edition of the competition in 2016.

“So yes, there is a happy ending to the story and we are actually building these two houses as a showcase of technologies that can be used in mainstream construction.”

What does it mean to you, becoming the first Czech ever to receive the Outstanding Young Person Award by Junior Chamber International?

Off-grid house by Petr Čmelík and Martin Stark,  photo: official website of Český Ostrovní dům
“Honestly to me personally, the two weeks spent in Japan mostly I was missing my wife and kid. To me personally it is not such a big deal but I understand it’s an award that you receive as a team, which for me is more important. So I think as a team we appreciate it.”

Do you think it will have an impact on your future career?

“I think it will definitely help people to hear our mission. So if the award helps us to accelerate the transition to sustainable technologies, then I would be grateful for that.”

What are your plans for the nearest future?

“Like I said, I think a man should build a house by himself at some point in his life. So I am currently switching to being a construction worker on two real buildings that we are going to build in the upcoming years.

“We also have a little start-up for battery storage for households, so I will probably spend a lot of time on that. We have to travel around the world trying to find out the right country to launch our products. So that’s my plan for the next two years, I think.”