Entrepreneurship - Business - Events

nZEB Shop - The story behind the most ambitious shop for energy efficiency solutions

When I first heard of nZEB Week in Bucharest, the event that took place in autumn 2023, I wanted to meet the man behind it. Emilian Grigore is not the kind of entrepreneur who settles for less - he dreams big and builds the same.

Emilian Grigore
Emilian Grigore

Founder of nZEB Shop, an innovative concept that combines specialised consultancy with comprehensive energy efficiency solutions, Emilian is also Vice President of Pro-nZEB Cluster and Green Building Ambassador for Romania Green Building Council. In other words, this man breathes, eats and sleeps green construction.

I met Emilian at his office in Bucharest, wanting to find out the story behind nZEB Week and the nZEB Shop brand. I quickly discovered that Emilian is the kind of man who makes you see the huge potential of the sustainable construction industry in Romania. He has an infectious energy and a genuine passion for what he does.

From his Erasmus adventure in Denmark to his years spent in corporations, Emilian has accumulated diverse experiences that have prepared him for the role of champion of energy efficient construction. But it wasn't until he decided to leave the corporate comforts and turn to entrepreneurship that things really exploded.

In just 3 years, nZEB Shop has become a key player in the market, offering not only top products, but all the know-how needed to build passive houses and buildings with minimal energy consumption. And nZEB Week in Bucharest was another step in an ambitious plan to transform the industry.

Of course, it's not easy. Emilian has faced challenges, from attracting sponsorship in a price-sensitive market to animosity with competitors. But when he talks about the potential for collaboration and his vision for the future, his eyes light up. He wants to put Romania on the global green building map and has the determination to do it.

In what follows, you will discover the story of a man who has turned his energy towards energy efficiency in buildings in Romania. Welcome to the world of green building!

Wooden Magazine (RdL): Emilian, nice to meet you and talk about your professional journey. Let's start with your studies. You finished Construction in Brasov, but you also had the experience of an Erasmus year in Denmark. What was it like?

Emilian Grigore: Yes. I finished the Faculty of Construction in Brasov, but I spent the last year on an Erasmus scholarship in Denmark, working on wooden structures. I went to Vitus Bering, University of Horsens, and finished my dissertation there on Glulam, i.e. glued laminated timber. Initially I wanted to stay in the Netherlands after that, I had a good Dutch friend, but it was just before Romania joined the EU, around 2006. I couldn't find a job there that I liked, so I went back to the country and did another master's degree in Bucharest, on civil construction management.

RdL: You must have enjoyed your experience in Denmark! And then you went into corporations, right? How did you find the transition from student life?

Emilian Grigore: After my Master's I went straight into multinationals, yes. First at SINIAT, the plasterboard manufacturer. There I was technical and sales manager. Serious business, in the world's top 3 is Knauf, Saint Gobain and ETEX, of which SINIAT is part. I gained solid experience on the management side, teams, projects.

After that it was 8 years of Rockwool. We were a small gang of 6, growing up together. At the beginning I was asked to develop the whole technical department. Cool challenge, I chose my people, made the team as I wanted. But after three years of broken promises, I lost my enthusiasm but continued to be actively involved in the projects. I then had the position of specification manager, that is to say I was in charge of this part of recommending, consulting in specialized projects, passive houses, nZEB houses, any kind of houses.

RdL: And yet. You were doing well there. What happened?

EG: Right. Although in the early years I found myself there, I later realised it was not the right environment for me. Eventually, after 18 years in a multinational, I felt I had to make the move into entrepreneurship. And a lot of people around me said "Emilian, you're cut out for it, spread your wings and go!". That was the moment when I left and dedicated myself totally to my passion.

RdL: And that's how you ended up founding nZEB Shop in 2020. How did you come up with the idea?

EG: Well yes, in 2020 we founded the nZEB Shop brand out of a desire to bring something new to the market - a shop, but not just any shop, but an integrated consulting concept with complete solutions. I've been thinking about what name to come up with to relate to nZEB and Emag and the shop. I chose this name because it was fresh, it sounded good. And we worked on everything from logo to web domain, brand registration, the whole package.

I wanted to fill a gap in the market, that there was a great need for advice on nZEB, passive houses. People kept calling me, I was in constant demand, even though I was still working with Rockwool. I felt there was a need for training in the field, legislation to support this, but there wasn't much of it back then. So I got involved.

From a core of 4 people we quickly grew to a team of 11 by the end of 2022. There was a need for us, we had a lot of requests, interesting projects. We were committed to optimising the website, communication, being present at key events in the field. It was an intense period, but the results started to show. Customers appreciated that we came not only with products, but with solutions tailored to their needs.

RdL: I imagine it was a lot of work, especially in the beginning. But here you are, 3 years later, with a growing business and big plans. What was it like at the nZEB Week event in Bucharest this autumn?

EG: It was very good. I pulled hard to make it work! We rented for the first time the Laminor Arena, 3500 square meters. It was a new location for us, we knew there would be challenges with dust, noise, but we took it on. And it was worth it in the end. Although not perfect, it turned out to be a much appreciated event. We were a small team, 11 people, with about 4 of us handling everything from sales to social media.

RdL: All in all, you can see it was a success. And with the cluster, what are your plans going forward?

EG: We are now focusing on the roadshow across the country, followed by Constanta in May. It's a simpler format, not on the scale of Bucharest. We want it outdoors, with the support of the faculty there. There is interest, people want to come, I think it will be ok, about the same level as Timisoara.

But my eyes are on the mega-event in Bucharest in autumn 2024. That will be the spearhead, the highlight of the year. The rest, caravanning through other cities, gathering people, talking. That helps us grow the community, keep the interest alive. But the stakes are at the end.

RdL: You are also involved in the area of green buildings. Develop a little bit.

EG: That's right, I'm also active in the Romania Green Building Council, where it's my job to identify projects to be Green Homes certified. It's a niche at the moment, an extremely narrow market segment, but there are interested developers, there is demand.

In parallel, I want to expand the nZEB Shop beyond energy efficiency to eco solutions in general. We have already brought super cork plasters from Italy, we have a historical monument house to rehabilitate in Bucharest with them. There are other cool projects in the pipeline with natural insulation and acoustic components. It's a lot of work, but we're moving forward with sure steps.

RdL: Interesting projects! We'll discuss them soon. For now, thank you very much for this super interesting discussion and all the best in the world going forward!

EG: Yours sincerely, thank you too! Cheers and to many more successful events! Cheers!

The future sounds great for the sustainable construction industry in Romania. Emilian and the Pro-nZEB Cluster team are already intensively preparing the next event - nZEB Week in Constantascheduled for 17-19 May 2024.

So, if you are passionate about energy efficient building and want to keep up to date with the latest trends and innovations, don't miss this week's nZEB Week in Constanta. It is sure to be an exciting event that will add value to the whole sustainable building community.

About the author


I've had the chance to work in various departments. Thus I gained experience in Finance, Accounting, Logistics, Sales, Operations, Marketing. I am a team player and an all around player. I am an entrepreneur, I coordinated the sale of a wood varnish and paint business to a multinational. In 2016 I discovered the digital world, publishing and online marketing. Since then I have moved my accumulated experience and skills online.

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