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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » March 31, 2011
The Real Estate Voice
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Rising Demand for Green Offices
March 31, 2011   
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As environmental awareness increases among tenants, there is a growing demand for energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly office buildings worldwide. Poland has also caught up with the fashion for green offices.

The best known certification system for environment-friendly and energy-efficient buildings is Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED ). The internationally recognized system has been developed in the United States by the U.S. Green Building Council. The largest number of LEED-certified buildings can be found in the U.S. But interest in green office space is also on the rise in Europe. At the end of 2009, construction company Skanska, in conjunction with market research company GfK Polonia, conducted a survey among managers in large cities in Central Europe, including Poland. The survey shows that one in four managers takes environmental issues into account when making the decision to rent office space. This explains why a growing number of developers are deciding to build green office buildings. The earlier the developer chooses to apply for a LEED certificate, the lower costs they will incur in developing such a building. The best situation is when the developer thinks about LEED certification at the building design stage. The following factors are evaluated in the certification process for a building: location, water and energy efficiency, access to public transport, consumption of building materials, waste management and work environment. Also taken into account is how materials are stored during construction work and how much waste is sent for recycling. In Poland, there are only a few LEED-certified buildings and the certification process has been initiated for no more than 20 buildings. But experts believe that LEED certification will soon become routine in Poland because it offers many benefits. Certified facilities consume 30 percent less energy and water than other buildings and contribute to an improvement in the health and safety of workers. A WWF Polska report of December 2009 confirms that such buildings have a favorable impact on the natural environment. It is estimated that by adopting energy-efficient standards in construction, carbon dioxide emissions in Poland could be reduced by almost 1 million metric tons a year, helping save more than zl.13 billion by 2020. At present, buildings account for 40 percent of the total energy consumed in the European Union. In January last year, the production and office building of the BorgWarner company in the southeastern city of Rzeszów became the first building in Poland to receive LEED certification. Many factors were taken into account in the certification process in order to produce savings in many areas. The building is over 23 percent more energy-efficient than required by the US ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard. The water savings are up to 32 percent thanks to the use of water-efficient sanitary equipment. Additionally, the careful choice of greenery means there is no need to use sprinklers to water the plants. More than 80 percent of the construction waste was reused or recycled. An advanced waste sorting program was adopted for the needs of the construction process. Users of 97 percent of the building’s space have direct access to windows, with skylights and glazing providing natural light to all workstations. The Indoor Air Quality Plan has made it possible to significantly improve the quality of air inside the building. Sixty-five percent of the materials used were classified as regional while recycled materials accounted for 11 percent. Wood used in the project has FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.

With the workers’ health and well-being in mind, BorgWarner has conducted an advanced educational campaign. The aim is to teach the workers how to properly use the green building and to transfer part of this expertise to their daily private life.

The latest building to receive certification for using energy-efficient and environment-friendly technology is the Rondo 1 office building in Warsaw. In February, the LEED Gold certificate was granted to this modern building, confirming its high energy efficiency.

Rondo 1 is the first office building in Europe with more than one tenant to have received such a prestigious certificate. The process of evaluating the building for LEED certification began in October 2009. As a result, water consumption in the building has been reduced by 30 percent and the practice of using only biodegradable cleaning agents has been introduced. Additionally, 10 percent of the electricity consumed by Rondo 1 comes from wind turbines.

Deloitte House, one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly buildings in Warsaw, is located close to Rondo 1 near the ONZ Traffic Circle. It consumes over 30 percent less electricity than other office buildings. In 2009, it received GreenBuilding certification from the European Commission. The developer was Skanska Property Poland, which has its office in the building. Recently, the company also received a LEED Silver certificate for the building in recognition of its environment-friendly finishing, including fitted carpets made of recycled materials, a maximum use of daylight thanks to an open-plan design and glass panels serving as partition walls in order to let in as much light as possible, and care for the quality of air in the building, with carbon dioxide sensors installed in the office. There are other sensors which calculate the intensity of light the office lamps should provide to ensure proper lighting for workers. As a result, the lamps glow more intensively on cloudy days and less intensively in summer, leading to energy efficiency. Care has also been given to details, such as notes attached to computers to remind the users to switch them off before leaving and the purchase of a water-efficient dishwasher for the office kitchen. And there is a shower in the office so that workers can go to work by bicycle and then refresh and change clothes. Deloitte House, located at the very heart of Warsaw’s business area, was completed in 2009 as an extension of the Atrium complex. The Skanska Property Poland office was designed to meet the requirements of LEED certification from the start of the project.

Skanska Property Poland is, together with Skanska Property Czech Republic and Skanska Property Hungary, one of the companies making up Skanska Commercial Development Europe, which operates in the main cities of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Active in Poland for more than 10 years, the company has so far developed eight office properties in Warsaw and the Grunwaldzki Center in the southwestern city of Wrocław. It now plans two more projects, Silesia Business Park in the southern city of Katowice and Strzegomska 36 in Wrocław. Both will be developed in line with green building standards.

Growing interest
“Tenants increasingly appreciate environmentally-friendly buildings,” says Nicklas Lindberg, managing director at Skanska Property Poland. “The point is not only to reduce the costs of running an office. More and more often, what counts is responsibility for the environment. If they have an opportunity to make positive changes for the environment without raising their office costs, entrepreneurs eagerly choose to do so.”

Throughout the world, Skanska has many buildings with LEED certification, 70 of them located in the United States, one in Finland and one in the Czech Republic. More projects complying with the LEED system are being carried out in Sweden.

In February, Skanska Property Poland announced it had received a permit to develop the Green Corner building at the intersection of Chłodna and Wronia streets in Warsaw. The project is LEED pre-certified. Scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2012, Green Corner will have 27,500 sq m of office and retail space, with seven stories above ground and 265 parking spaces underground. The building will also have a special underground parking area for bicycles. Construction work has already begun and the main contractor is the Skanska SA company.

“Green Corner will be the first office building in Warsaw with Leed Platinum certification, meaning the highest rank in the rating of energy-efficient green buildings,” says Grzegorz Strutyński, regional director at Skanska Property Poland. “The future is energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. We wanted to prove and show that we were developing a building according to the world’s highest green standards. Having an office in a green building is a wise business decision, chiefly because such buildings provide a better and more friendly work environment.”

Zebra Tower, at the intersection of Waryńskiego, Mokotowska and Armii Ludowej streets in Warsaw, is also aspiring for LEED certification. The developer is Austrian company S+B Gruppe AG. In February, the 76-million-euro office building was taken over by the Union Investment company. Zebra Tower offers tenants 17,800 sq m of usable space on 16 stories and 124 parking spaces in two underground parking garages. Several stores and restaurants will also be located in the building. A big advantage of Zebra Tower is its good access to municipal transport, with a metro station located near the building. Seventy percent of space in the building has been rented out before its completion, which shows that demand for modern office space is high in Warsaw.

The Crown Square office building developed by Ghelamco in the center of Warsaw is equally modern. Completed in April 2010, it offers 16,200 sq m of modern office space. In November, the building received the prestigious BREEAM certificate for its green technology. Another developer, Liebrecht & Wood, also wants to protect the environment. It is carrying out a large project called Plac Unii in Warsaw together with the BBI Development company. The tower will house offices and stores.

The investor behind Eurocentrum, an A-class office building on Jerozolimskie Avenue in Warsaw, is also interested in receiving LEED certification for the building. CP Realty II, a member of Capital Park Group, has already received a building permit for the project and strives to get LEED Gold “shell and core” certification, which means the building will be evaluated in terms of not only the technology and installations applied but also their efficient operation.
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