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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 21, 2011
Business & Economy
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Green Technology is the Future
December 21, 2011   
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There are already about 600 million sq m of certified “eco-buildings” in the world today. Colliers International estimates that by 2020 the number will grow by almost 800 percent, resulting in a total of about 5.3 billion sq m of “green” space. Research in the United States and 10 other countries has shown that the initial higher cost is recouped within the first few years of use.

Experts estimate that green projects mean savings of 20-25 percent of energy per year. It’s worth remembering that under Directive 2010/31/EU, as of January 2021 all new buildings (the deadline for public utility buildings is 2018) will have to have almost zero energy consumption.

Poland is still at the start of the road, though interest is growing among developers in building eco-friendly office buildings. The pioneers in this area include companies like Skanska Property and Ghelamco. Skanska Property Poland has completed two buildings in Warsaw, Deloitte House and Marynarska Point, and the Grunwaldzki Center in Wroc³aw (all have Green Building certificates). The company’s latest Warsaw project, Green Corner, also meets LEED certification criteria. Ghelamco decided to get an eco-certificate for its Trinity Park III and Crown Square office buildings (BREEAM), while Austrian developer S+B Gruppe has obtained one for the Zebra Tower (LEED). More than 70 projects in Poland have been certified in one of the following systems: BREEAM, LEED, Green Building, and DGNB.

Green projects are profitable, especially in the long term, mainly because of lower maintenance costs. They help save up to 50 percent of water and energy. It’s worth remembering that green projects also bring benefits to the health and safety of their users, improve work comfort and productivity, and that’s why the second conference in the Innovative Poland series was devoted to work environment quality and certification of indoor office space. Green certificates are a voluntary way of measuring a building’s energy efficiency, but many markets use them as a benchmark of companies’ best practices in sustainable development. What good are certificates? How much do they cost? How do you obtain them? These are the questions we tried to answer during the conference. Whereas there are a few dozen certified green buildings in Poland today, you can count certified interiors on the fingers of one hand. Not all tenants in these green office buildings decide to obtain certification for the interiors. An example of the certification of an office interior was presented at the conference by Deutsche Bank PBC, which has a LEED gold certificate for one of its Warsaw units.

“Sustainable development is part of our company strategy,” said Agnieszka Karwacka, director for real estate management at the Deutsche Bank Group. “The experience we gained obtaining a certificate for our first green branch will enable us to apply for certificates for our other branches.”

To get a certificate for an interior, you have to meet a number of requirements involving the quality of air, lighting and fittings. Furniture in green offices has to have a certificate from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) stating that it was made in accordance with the toughest environmental protection requirements. This certificate enables buyers to check where the tree from which their furniture is made grew originally.

But an FSC certificate is not all, as pointed out by Beata Osiecka, president of Kinnarps Polska, a company for which sustainable development has been normal practice for over 70 years. The green office philosophy is more than just healthy furniture; it’s also huge knowledge about ergonomics, acoustics, lighting, work organization. All this affects the quality of the work environment and therefore work productivity and the health of employees, according to Osiecka.

Green offices have been a hot topic lately. Certification in itself has raised standards by setting challenges before anyone wanting to obtain a certificate of this kind.

Some companies go even further than that. They believe that not just offices should be eco-friendly, but the entire company should be geared towards saving energy and water, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, in other words—towards sustainable development.

Milan Zika, director for technology and innovation and a member of the board at Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa SA, presented his company’s eco-friendly program at the conference. Energy-saving base stations (designed by Polish engineers), eco-friendly products and electric cars are just a few examples. “We are only at the start of the road, but T-Mobile wants to be a green operator,” Zika said. “We feel responsible for the health of our customers and employees and for the environment in which we operate. This is our philosophy.”

During the conference, participants could review new solutions and eco-friendly products. The Warsaw Voice is pressing ahead with its Innovative Poland series of conferences in 2012. Our aim is to spread awareness about the best eco-friendly solutions. We would like to encourage all companies, regardless of their field of business, that have eco-friendly products on offer to take part in the Ekowiarygodni (Eco-credible) competition. The aim is to single out and reward the market’s best eco-friendly products, services, designs, buildings and entire companies whose strategies include sustainable development. Be sure to enter.
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