What are the benefits of BREEAM and LEED certificates for owner and tenant?
BREEAM and LEED are still seen, in Poland, primarily as a part of the prestige and brand differentiator, perhaps because there is relatively not many functioning certified buildings. But I am convinced that for some time, investors will also appreciate the other benefits of such a building, such as lower operating costs, and tenants will see a measurable drop in worker absenteeism, resulting from the fact that these buildings are simply healthier, guaranteeing greater comfort. Of course, it is also extremely important to reduce the impact on the environment, and society as a whole gains a lot.
In the "green office" buildings, it is very important to use the proper installation techniques (heating, cooling, electricity). Which criteria in these aspects a certified bulding have to meet?
These systems should be primarily designed according to the suggested standards - European, adopted by Poland in the case of BREEAM and American in the case of LEED. To function properly, in accordance with the design, you must make a very detailed acceptance procedures, including seasonal tests.
These devices should be of course energy-efficient and have as many options for monitoring and control. In the case of ventilation you should also pay attention to the air intake and outlet distance - BREEAM for example, does not accept the interlocking devices in which the distance from the intake to the outlet is less than 10m. All water equipment, including cold water, should be designed to prevent the possibility of the development of legionella - the bacteria that causes serious lung disease. It would be perfect, if all of the devices caused the least impact on the internal and external environment. Detailed guidance on the installation are of course the main part of the certification process.
An essential element of the energy-efficient building is the use of renewable-energy as much as possible. What parameter in this regard should the building meet while applying for certification?
In Poland, the use of renewable energy for commercial buildings is still not so common, often meet with rejection a priori the possibility of using renewable energy because of its low profitability. Indeed, although we see quite a sharp fall in the price of equipment related to renewable energy, it seems that without the support of the government in the form of grants and applicable laws, interest in renewable energy will still be quite small.
BREEAM or LEED does not dictate the need for renewable energy in the building, but when the investor decides on it, it is highly encouraged. Before choosing a type of renewable energy the feasibility study must be made, which should clearly define the type of renewable energy that is most economically viable for the building.Please keep in mind that the concept of renewable energy has the wider context in those certification systems. An example would be the use of waste heat coming from both the building and the building located nearby, which also can be considered as renewable energy. It should be noted that any amount of renewable energy used is promoted, so you do not need to make radical solutions in which the building would be entirely dependent on renewable energy.
Are there any aspects which you as an assessor needs to pay special attention in a building that is applying for a certificate?
One of the most important issues is the time when the investor decides to start the certification process. In the case of BREEAM, it is very difficult to obtain such a certificate at the begining of the certification process durring the construction phase, or even during the detailed designing phase. In the case of LEED in general it is not possible to obtain a certificate for new buildings if the construction has already begun. This is due to the fact that these two certificates have required criteria which must be met in order to give the building a certificate. For LEED certification, one of these items is appropriate environmental management plan prepared by the contractor. Therefore, as a rule, we advise our customers to carry out an initial assessment, which will conclude whether the building even has a chance of such a certificate and whether the rating that the building will receive will satisfy the customer.
How many companies in Poland are trying to apply for the LEED or BREEAM certificates every year? What percentage will receive a certificate? Do you see the growing interest in certification?
These data are continuously updated because of the remarkable growth of interest in certification over the last year. According to my knowledge in Poland, dozens of building are currently certified, roughly half of them according to the BREEAM system and the other half according to LEED criteria. Of course, the certification is a long process as well as investment in Poland - the time between the purchase of the land and finishing the building takes several years. If the investor demonstrates a determination during the whole process, then each building, which has been registered and passed the initial positive assessment has a chance for a certificate. But certainly not all of the buildings registered will receive a certificate - but usually this is due to the decision to discontinue the process of certification by the investor, for example, due to the change of ownership or change of investment policy.
Should the "green office" users be trained in the proper use of ecologic office in order to take full advantage of its potential?
Absolutely! Drawing up a simple guide for users of the building and the training process is a very important part of the certification, in BREEAM certifications it is one of the mandatory elements. Only appropriate use of the equipment can guarantee the achievement of the objectives.