Green and Proud of It
April 30, 2014
Katarzyna Zawodna, president of Skanska Property Poland, talks to the Voice’s El¿bieta Wrzecionkowska about the Polish office property market.
Atrium 1, where the first tenants are to move in in June, is one of the greenest office buildings in Poland. It has ambitious, green solutions, including technology that is new in Poland. Can you tells us some more about what sets your Atrium 1 project apart from other green office buildings?
Atrium 1 is the greenest office building in Central and Eastern Europe, which above all means benefits for tenants. It means lower bills for electricity and water and, most importantly, an exceptionally comfortable and healthy work environment. As regards the pioneering technological solutions, one of these is a system of 50 geothermal probes that go down 200 meters into the earth. In summer, they will help cool warm air channeled into the building from the outside. In winter, heat accumulated underground will be used to heat up ventilation air. The system does not require heat pump compressors because it uses gravity. Additionally, we have employed an intelligent facade system – each facade is a little different and will be adjusted to the amount of sunlight available. There is a triple glazing system with external sun blinds, solar panels turning sunlight into electricity, and an energy-efficient indoor lighting system responding to changes in daylight. This is coupled with an air-conditioning system based on chilled beams, with water mist humidification and carbon dioxide monitoring.
Building certification is the first stage on the road to a sustainable work environment. What about certification for the interiors?
We seek certification for all our buildings through the LEED Core & Shell system. However, to fully maximize the advantages of green buildings, it’s worth dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s by certifying the interiors of offices occupied by tenants. We offer this as a complete service to our business partners. The certificate is called LEED for Commercial Interiors, or LEED CI for short. Of course, we test all the solutions on ourselves before we propose them to our clients. This is why Skanska Property Poland’s Warsaw office also has LEED CI certification. This kind of certification is the best way of using the solutions offered by the building to the full, raising staff awareness and introducing an environmentally-friendly organizational culture. We have already helped one of the companies that have offices in the Nordea House/Green Corner building in Warsaw to get such certification. We are now working on such a step with other tenants.
All your properties are green, and sustainable buildings have always been a priority for your company. Looking back, are you happy you took this approach? Or perhaps it’s a mission?
Actually, it’s not something we deliberate over any more. We treat it as a natural thing. Now we’re taking another step—apart from constructing office buildings and creating places for people to work, we also want to create urban space that will be alive after people leave the office at the end of the working day. We want to create fragments of the urban fabric—comfortable green complexes surrounded by friendly space that encourages people to meet and relax, but also makes it easier for those who work there to organize their day. This means, for example, providing a kindergarten for children, cafes, beauty parlors and so on. We want people working in Skanska offices to feel good, their companies to be able to operate efficiently and expand, and the local community to get a piece of friendly and well-organized space. We will be applying this concept in our latest office development on Daszyñskiego Square in Warsaw. Creating such spaces is definitely part of our mission at Skanska. People—their well-being, comfort and health—are what we focus on.
Demand for office space set a record last year. How much office space can the Polish market still absorb?
The Polish office market still has very big potential for growth, both in Warsaw and in regional cities. But, of course, if hundreds of thousands of square meters are put onto the market simultaneously within a short time it may take a while before tenants are found for all this space. But I am convinced that excellent projects in good locations will always draw tenants.
Companies are increasingly keen on Poland as a location not only for their accounting centers but also for advanced financial services. Do you think Poland has a chance of becoming a European hub for such services?
Poland already ranks third internationally for companies operating in this sector, with 120,000 jobs here in more than 440 companies and 1.1 million sq m of office space occupied. These are impressive figures. And it is expected that they will continue to grow by around 10-15 percent annually. More and more experts say that in 2015 Poland will be the world leader and I believe that. In recent years companies operating in the modern business services sector have leased on average 70 percent—up to 90 percent outside Warsaw—of the office space that Skanska has put on the market. Together with ABSL and JLL we have set the standard for office space for tenants from this sector. We carried out research into what they wanted and defined the features that offices should have to meet the needs of outsourcing centers. Apart from top-quality ICT networks and the quality of the internal environment, they expect a lot of flexibility in terms of interior layout. They may need space for five teams of 40 people today while in five months they may need space for 10 teams of 20 people and with full access control. It’s no mean feat to design buildings in such a way that they enable quick changes in interior layout without high costs. We are trying to do just that.