The (Green) Battle of Austerlitz – how a Czech builder learned to love plant, animal ‘enemies’

LIKO-Noe building, photo: archive of LIKO-S

Over the past two years, construction permit applications in the Czech Republic have soared in anticipation of an EU directive setting stricter environmental rules that would increase costs significantly. The family-owned construction firm LIKO-S in Moravia has embraced the measures, by carving out a niche selling “green” façades and roofs.

In December 2019, the European Commission announced a new policy framework to accelerate decarbonization in the EU. Known as the “European Green Deal”, it aims to cut greenhouse gases and increase people’s quality of life, through cleaner air and water, better health and a thriving natural world.

Libor Musil founded the building company LIKO-S nearly thirty years ago with his wife in Slavkov u Brna – the site of the famous Battle of Austerlitz, one of the most decisive of the Napoleonic Wars.

Their company has increasingly taken a holistic ecological approach to building. Family homes outfitted with green roofs, for example, are not only more energy efficient, but help cool the atmosphere and clean the air.

“In Slavkov, we built a home according to our own model, which we covered with greenery. This means that it has a green roof and façade. And we saw just how amazing well it works. It does a tremendous job in cooling the interior, with no need for air conditioning, which is expensive and unhealthy to breathe.

LIKO-Noe building,  photo: archive of LIKO-S

“We took that prototype, and today sell green products in the Czech and Slovak markets and are looking to expand. It’s important because although we’re in the midst not just of a health and economic crisis [due to Covid-19], but we also have a climate crisis.”

The Czech Republic has undergone a significant transformation of its economy in the past 30 years, greatly reducing its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). But the country remains the fourth-largest GHG emitter in the EU on a per capita basis. Most come from electricity and heat generation, followed by industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, waste, among others.

The bottom line, Libor Musil told Czech Radio, is that everyone must do their part to reduce the greenhouse effect. Builders can do their part by embracing nature, integrating it into housing designs.

“Traditionally, builders have considered plants and animals as enemies, things that damage buildings. We need to think about things a bit differently if we’re going to fight climate change, lower the temperature of the planet...

“People’s homes and offices are a source of heat. A green roof lowers the temperature, and the plants and evaporating water attract animals. They should be a welcome part of life. Whether its beetles in the green façade or birds making their nests.”

Along with looking to reduce greenhouse gases and promote a cleaner environment, the European Green Deal also outlines strategies relating to biodiversity, aware that insects which act as pollinators – such as bees and butterflies – are disappearing from the globe at an alarming rate.