The initiative for the natureplus-Quality Seal originally came from the German specialist building products suppliers. The Bundesverband Deutscher Baustoff-Fachhandel e.V. (BDB) invited the leading test institutes, who were involved in the issuance of ecological labels in the the building sector, to take part in a common, Europe-wide initiative. The main aim was to continuously improve the advisory services provided by the specialist suppliers. From this initiative, the ARGE ecoNcert was formed. The founding members of ARGE ecoNcert included, among others, the following institutes:
- eco-Umweltinstitut, Köln (eco-Environmental Institute, Cologne)
- IBO Österreichisches Institut für Baubiologie und Ökologie, (Austrian Institute for Building-Biology and Ecology)
- Institut für Umwelt und Gesundheit (IUG), Fulda (Institute for the Environment and Health)
- Bremer Umweltinstitut, Bremen (Bremer Environmental Institute)
- TÜV Süddeutschland (Industrie Service), München (TÜV South Germany –Industrial Services, Munich)
From the beginning the ARGE ecoNcert was looking for social support in Europe and the participation of any group of stakeholders in the building sector. So the idea was formed to create an European association together with specialist trading companies, manufacturers, building industry, architects and craftsmen on the one hand and ecological organisations, trade unions, scientific institutions and consumer associations on the other.
On 20.04.2001, the International Association for Future-Oriented Building and Accommodation – natureplus e.V. was formed at the founding assembly in Frankfurt/Main and listed in the official register of associations. The natureplus logo, used in our Quality Seal, was registered as trademark. In June 2002, the first products were certified with the natureplus Quality Seal by the Association’s patroness at that time, the German federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Renate Künast.
Within a period of twelve years, natureplus has been able to develop quality requirements of sustainability (guidelines) for around 60 types of products and to certify approximately 450 products from a significant number of European manufacturers. In Europe natureplus is the only quality seal to have achieved a recognised market position among the private labelling systems. Since 2010 natureplus is self-financing from licence fees and nor longer dependant on governmental grants, subsidy of WWF or contributions of industrial partners.
Today, the Association has 90 members (October 2013) and is represented by partner organisations with national offices in seven European Countries (AT, BE, CH, DE, FR, IT, UK).