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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 26, 2012
Innovative Poland
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Greening Up
April 26, 2012   
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The third conference in the Innovative Poland series, held at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw April 16, focused on environmentally-friendly redevelopment. Throughout 2011,the Warsaw Voice Conferences strove to promote what is known as green building through its Innovative Poland conference series and to encourage investors to seek green-building certification for their newly developed office buildings.

There are more and more supporters of green building, but over 90 percent of the existing office stock is not certified. Most of the buildings require improvements to their energy-efficiency and lighting systems, in addition to measures to reduce noise and the replacement of old materials and technology. In short, they are ripe for modernization and redevelopment.

Among the office premises which require modernization are historical buildings. In their case, a special approach and expertise is needed, but it is possible to turn them into green buildings as well. There are many examples of successful redevelopments of historical buildings coupled with green-building certification, with the Americans being the pioneers in this area. They have certified their historical buildings—which are quite young by European standards—for many years now.

At the conference, Rafał Szurma, president of the Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC), mentioned a project, already completed, involving the redevelopment of the historic headquarters of the Boston University School of Law. Agnes Vorbrodt, vice-president of the PLGBC, showed examples of successful redevelopments and certifications, including an old power plant where Harvard University now has some of its premises. “Apart from receiving the LEED Gold rating, the authorities of Harvard University were especially interested in preserving the historical assets and the industrial character of the site, and they also wanted to adhere to the principles of sustainable development,” said Vorbrodt.

The redeveloped building received LEED Platinum certification. The certifying authority appreciated the choice of greenery, which requires no watering, the location of bicycle parking areas in front of the building, measures taken to promote car sharing, efficient lighting inside and outside of the building, an energy-efficient air-conditioning and ventilation system, full recycling of building materials from demolition, and the university’s system for washing cars using rainwater.

Additionally, green-building certificates promote the cultural and aesthetic values of historical buildings while investors who seek such certification for redeveloped buildings are offered high tax breaks on the U.S. market.

There are also examples of certified historical buildings in Europe, and GBC Italia—the Italian branch of the Green Building Council—has started to develop a certification system for historic buildings. Hochtief Development Poland has started two redevelopment projects in Poland. One of them is the redevelopment of the Count Raczyński building on Małachowskiego Square in Warsaw. “The project combines redevelopment, expansion and BREEAM certification,” said Katarzyna Baranowska of Hochtief Development Poland. The other is the redevelopment of the building at 2/4 Mazowiecka St., at the intersection and Mazowiecka and ¦więtokrzyska streets. After the completion of the second metro line, it will be one of the best located small office premises in the city. The designers managed to find enough parking space for 18 cars there, which was not an easy task in this densely built-up area.

Any redevelopment project begins with the design stage. But when construction work starts, specific building materials have to be used. This is why the second part of the conference was dedicated to environment-friendly building materials: how to choose them and how to make sure they are friendly to the environment. Experts Henryk Kwapisz of Isover Saint Gobain, Mariusz Piszczek of Pfleiderer, and Andrzej Roch Dobrucki, president of the Polish Chamber of Civil Engineers (PIIB). answered these questions.

The animated discussion ended with the conclusion that no single certificate can guarantee that the material is environment-friendly; the material has to meet several conditions. Henryk Kwapisz said an environment-friendly material should meet Polish and EU standards and should come from a reliable producer who has an environmental management system certified by either the ISO or the European Union under its Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

While redeveloping a building, it is worth thinking in advance about its interiors. Historical buildings, though more challenging, are an inspiration to architects. At the conference, Katarzyna Pluta of Nowy Styl Group, Poland’s largest producer of office furniture, discussed several interesting redevelopment projects. One of them was a training center in a revitalized ship wreck.

The part of the conference dealing with the redevelopment of office buildings featured the latest technology for reducing noise in open-plan offices and improving lighting. Wojciech Kuc of the Osram company presented modern light sources and lighting control systems. Among the solutions presented were modern light fixtures, LEDs and blinds systems that let in daylight but protect interiors against excessive solar radiation.

Visit the website of our conference to see selected presentations and photographs of the exhibition which was staged together with the conference. We hope they will be helpful to you in your certification processes, in selecting environment-friendly materials and in modernizing interiors. Our next conference, scheduled for November, will focus on ways of financing the construction of green buildings, in addition to programs for supporting investors, and the appraisal of certified green buildings.
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