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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » October 31, 2013
Belgium in Poland
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Sustainability: More Than Being Green
October 31, 2013   
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Jeroen van der Toolen, Managing Director of Belgium-based developer Ghelamco for Central and Eastern Europe, talks to the Voice.

Ghelamco arrived on the Polish market in the 1990s. Could you briefly tell us about the history of your company in Poland?
Ghelamco is based in Belgium, where it was established in 1985 by Paul Gheysens. The company started operations in Poland over 22 years ago, first as a general contractor but soon becoming a developer and investor as well. Over those years we have become a leading developer in Poland. Ghelamco has delivered almost 500,000 sq m of offices, warehouses and residential premises and has sold office projects for over 1 billion euros. We were also the first developer to introduce the BREEAM certificate to the Polish market and now we are proud to be a leader in sustainable construction.

What kind of year has 2013 been for Ghelamco so far?
This year has been very busy for us. First we delivered two new buildings in Warsaw —the T-Mobile Office Park and the Łopuszańska Business Park—both constructed within only 18 months. The new T-Mobile headquarters offer 40, 000 sq m. This is a special project for us as it is the first office building delivered in Poland to receive a BREEAM certificate with an “excellent” rating. The Łopuszańska Business Park, offering approximately 17,000 sq m and fully leased to Alior, Allianz and Cemex, has also obtained a BREEM certificate. Both projects are also partners of the Green Building Program led by the European Commission.

This year we have also successfully sold two projects—Senator and Mokotów Nova—to the Union Investment and Tristan funds. With those transactions, worth 241 million euros, the value of all Ghelamco projects sold in Poland exceeded 1 billion euros.

I must also mention a big success in Belgium. In July, Ghelamco delivered a new, modern soccer stadium. It is called the Ghelamco Arena and is located in the second biggest city in Belgium, Ghent.

And what about the Warsaw Spire?
The Warsaw Spire is our main project and the biggest office complex emerging now in Europe. We are fully focused on its construction and commercialization. For this project, we have obtained the biggest level of financing in the history of the Polish market, zl.904 million, from a consortium of four banks: Bank Polska Kasa Opieki S.A., Bank Zachodni WBK S.A., Powszechna Kasa Oszczędno¶ci Bank Polski S.A., and BRE Bank S.A.

The Warsaw Spire will deliver 100,000 sq m of modern office space and will also give the city a new public space. There will be a unique square as part of the project. It will have leisure functions, with restaurants, bars and wine shops, and everything will be located among greenery, artistic installations and fountains.

You mentioned that sustainable development is a priority for you. Could you tell us some more?
Sustainability is one of the most important parts of our strategy. It needs to be stressed that this is not sustainability perceived only in terms of so-called green solutions. Sustainable—the way Ghelamco understands it—also means taking care of the city, offering tenants the highest quality buildings and services, being engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and so on. In other words, our notion of sustainability is not limited only to the building but extends to every aspect of its presence in the city. Real estate is a human business—we build for people, our tenants, to enhance the quality of the work/life balance. That is why an analysis of new trends in technologies, the fit-out and space arrangement is always the first step in designing a new building. All this is done to improve tenants’ comfort and deliver the most effective project. Our efforts in the field of sustainable development are clearly visible in the number of our certified buildings. We are the only developer in Central and Eastern Europe to have seven BREEAM certificates. What’s more, our T-Mobile Office Park project is the first office building delivered in Poland that received a BREEAM certificate with an “excellent” rating. Moreover, four of our projects—the T-Mobile Office Park, Mokotów Nova, Senator and the Łopuszańska Business Park—are partners of the Green Building Program led by the European Commission.

We are focusing on sustainable solutions in the Warsaw Spire and I am sure we will introduce new solutions to enhance the green credentials of the project.
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