Thursday - May 4, 2017

Opening of the “Haus der Nationen” (“House of Nations”) in Bergisch Gladbach

Address by Lutz Urbach

Mayor of the city of Bergisch Gladbach

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Mr. Sassi, Mr. Northcote, Dr. Steilemann,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the dedication ceremony for the House of Nations! I am honored to speak to you today on this very special occasion: the completion of a pilot project by Covestro, Logelis, and the city of Bergisch Gladbach.

As you well remember, we were under enormous pressure in 2015. The influx of refugees was a formidable challenge for our city. Bergisch Gladbach needed living space for people – and it had to be built quickly and cost effectively. Who stepped up to help? Two companies that work together to develop and build new, energy-efficient types of housing. And they do it quickly and cost effectively.

Allow me to introduce them: Materials supplier Covestro AG and French prefab housebuilder Logelis.

In September 2016, the three partners in the project signed an agreement to build a model home. These were Renaud Sassi from Logelis, Richard Northcote from Covestro, and me in my capacity as the mayor of Bergisch Gladbach.

Logelis was founded four years ago and according to CEO Renaud Sassi, “pursues the mission of building passive houses at affordable prices.”
The company constructed the building envelope as well as the interior walls and parts of the interior construction. The electrical and plumbing work and flooring were completed by local contractors.

Covestro AG, which many in our region know by its former name Bayer MaterialScience, is one of the world’s largest polymer producers. Its business focuses on the manufacture and development of high-tech polymers. The main customer segments Covestro serves are the automotive, electrical and electronics, and sports and leisure sectors as well as the construction industry. For the latter, Covestro produces polyurethane insulation that enables a wall only 16 centimeters thick to meet the passive house energy standard. Through building prefab houses in a very different climate in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically in Malaysia and the Philippines, Covestro had already achieved good results that it wanted to share in Germany, too. This insulation technique works in cooler climates as well.

Covestro employees living in Bergisch Gladbach used their contacts to arrange a meeting with the city. So, personal relationships with the company’s employees were the spark that ignited this project. And then, I am proud to say, our city government’s openness and interest in innovation led to the signing of the agreement to build a prototype in Germany.

In view of the flood of refugees coming here, we saw an opportunity in Bergisch Gladbach to work with Covestro and Logelis to provide quality housing to people seeking asylum quickly, inexpensively, and for a longer time, if necessary. The concept convinced us to go ahead with the pilot project. Of course, both companies were highly motivated to succeed with this project. After all, if the project proved successful, it would be relatively easy to duplicate in other municipalities. This could create demand, which in turn would lower the purchase price as well as boosting profits for the companies. A classic win-win situation!

To sum up:
The house was built quickly. After an extended period in which we worked out the necessary building permits, construction was completed in four weeks, excluding the floor slab and interiors.
The house is sustainable in that very light-weight components were used, which lowered transportation costs. And it is also sustainable because it has a very small energy footprint that meets the passive house standard. This saves a considerable amount of energy compared to other houses.
The house is also cost effective in view of the short construction time and modular, prefab construction approach. All of these factors make this type of house an attractive option for subsidized housing.

You are probably wondering how we will actually use it.
Starting today, the house will be handed over to the Rhine-Berg chapter of the German Red Cross for use as a multi-purpose building. It will not contain any apartments, but instead be used as a kindergarten. Of course, it does have a kitchen.

What you will see for yourselves soon after a short, 200-meter walk is the outstanding result of a close and successful partnership.
Thank you very much to everyone involved, including the local companies that worked to make this model home a reality.

I was personally very impressed with the project. The residents of Bergisch Gladbach are keenly interested in how this prototype will stand up in daily use. I can well imagine that there will be others here in town who want to do something similar. The project has a future in our city!

God bless everyone who will be living and working in this beautiful building. I wish you every success! Enjoy our celebration!

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.