Roger Léron Award Nominee 2018


Martin Bruckner is the organiser and developer of several initiatives: BIOEM – first Austrian environmental trade fair – Sonnenplatz Großschönau – promoting resource efficiency in the building sector by providing passive houses for real-life tests – SONNENWELT Großschönau – an interactive multimedia exhibition with an area of around 2.000 square meters. His engagement in various regional and international networks had a positive effect on his region and beyond. He successfully positioned his region, Lower Austria, as a platform for renewable energy and energy efficiency by continuously broadening the scope of his actions. His networking and dissemination activities, the constant development of new concepts and the support for local renewable energies, ensure that the region will stay on the sustainability path in the long run. His constant, long-lasting and personal engagement as director, chairman, and founder of various initiative, made Mr. Bruckner an ambassador for the energy transition far beyond his hometown.

Description of the active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe

Since 1982, when Martin Bruckner installed a biomass-heating for his own farm, he has been constantly engaged in renewable energy, sustainability, and energy efficiency. During the past 36 years, he has been the creator and supporter of several  initiatives. In 1986, he supported and organised his brother Josef Bruckner’s idea to initiate the first Austrian environmental trade fair, the so-called BIOEM. Today, the 33rd Edition of the BIOEM attracts around 22.000 visitors. In 1994, Martin Bruckner installed the biomass-district-heating network in Großschönau and managed to connect all public buildings, housing associations, company buildings, church facilities and a lot of private houses. He then became a member of the community council in 1996 with which he started an initiative for solar thermal collectors. As the mayor of Großschönau, he developed – together with his brother and the regional developer Josef Wallenberger – the initiative “Sonnenplatz Großschönau” with the goal of promoting resource efficiency in the building sector by providing passive houses for real-life tests. After three years of planning, the First European Passive House Village for test living opened in 2007. All in all, over 4.800 guests could experience passive-house comfort. He also led the village into the e5  programme for energy-efficient communities in 2011 and it has significant chances to become the first Lower Austrian village with the highest programme reward of five so-called e’s. In 2013 Mr. Bruckner created the “SONNENWELT Großschönau” – an interactive multimedia exhibition with an area of around 2.000 square meters. The design and contents of the exhibition were awarded the Austrian Climate Protection Award in 2014. The SONNENWELT provides a holistic view on sustainability and covers the topics lifestyle, housing, mobility, food and renewable energy. Up to now, the exhibition has attracted over 150.000 visitors. To promote his vision, Mr. Bruckner is engaged in leading functions in various regional and international networks, such as:

  • Grenzüberschreitendes Impulszentrum GIZ (Cross-Border-Innovation-Center – Chairman),
  • Wirtschaftsforum Waldviertel (Economic Forum Waldviertel – Director for Energy and Sustainability),
  • Dorferneuerung NÖ (Association for the refurbishment of villages – Director),
  • Gemeindekooperation “Wohnen im Waldviertel“ (Community Collaboration for Private Housing – Project-Leader for 56 Communities),
  • Klima- und Energiemodellregion Lainsitztal (Climate and Energy-Model-Region Lainsitztal – Initiator).

Furthermore, he introduced, together with the local Energy Agency of the Regions and the local business initiative “Wirtschaftsforum Waldviertel” the “Energiepakt Waldviertel 2030” where he convinced 10 other regions to commit themselves to make the region  energy independent until 2030.


On his way from being a farmer to become a promoter of the energy transition, Mr. Bruckner persistently followed his vision of bringing the merits of the energy transition to people’s minds. He had to overcome several obstacles. As in the starting phase of Sonnenplatz Großschönau investors wouldn´t take the risk, Mr. Bruckner and his wife became personally liable for the investments. Furthermore, he managed to convince five other municipalities to become members of the association Sonnenplatz and contribute to it.


The engagement of Mr. Bruckner had several positive effects on the region and beyond: 95 percent of the heating demand of the municipality Großschönau is now produced out of biomass. The house testing-initiative attracted over 4.800 guests that were able to experience the comfort of a passive house. The initiative is a win-win situation for local and regional tourism businesses and is, therefore, an example of sustainable regional development. The involved housing companies gained experience in the passive-house technology and attracted customers. The region is well known for being a central hub for know-how transfer for national and international visitors, as Großschönau is located close to the border with the Czech Republic. Even a delegation from a Japanese University visited Großschönau in order to learn about regional development. Großschönau also became engaged in training and qualification measures. As a result, 450 experts – architects, engineers, and energy consultants – were trained. So far, the trade fair BIOEM has attracted 750.000 visitors in total (250 exhibitors per year) and the SONNENWELT around 150.000 visitors. This represents a benefit not only for raising awareness regarding the energy transition but also for the economic value added in the region. The association Sonnenplatz employs more than 10 staff members and therefore provides jobs in an economically weak region.

Strategic Vision

Mr. Bruckner successfully positioned his region as a platform for renewable energy and energy efficiency by continuously broadening the scope of his actions. In order to anticipate future developments, he became involved in scientific research programmes and built up cooperations with research institutions like the Technical University of Vienna and also international partners. Therefore, he was able to position Großschönau as a test bed for technologies like sector coupling technologies that combine the power and the heat-sector.

He successfully used renowned national initiatives like the e5-programme and the climate and energy-model regions to spread the successes of his region nationwide and to raise funds. It is important for Mr. Bruckner to strive for excellence in his actions and to make the region an internationally known lighthouse for resource efficiency. An example of that is his goal to make Großschönau the first village in Lower Austria to achieve the European Energy Award in Gold by getting a five e-rating in the e5-programme for energy efficient communities. Furthermore, he built up a training centre for qualification measures in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. His networking and dissemination activities, the constant development of new concepts and the support for local renewable energies ensures that the region will stay on the path of sustainability in the long run.


Martin Bruckner’s personal engagement in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency encourages people to implement measures on their own. He is always searching for new ways and methods to reach the people. Therefore, it is important for him to deliver complex topics in a simple way and to use a variety of communication channels, e.g. a video message to deliver his vision of an energy independent region where he contrasts the energy supply of 2018 with the renewable energy potential in the region: http://www.sonnenwelt.at/page.asp/-/172.htm

His constant and long-lasting engagement made Mr. Bruckner an ambassador for the energy transition far beyond his hometown. Furthermore, he takes personal responsibility in his community and in his functions as director, chairman, and founder of various initiatives.