The epicentre of green building

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Cracow for few days became the green building capital of the world. PLGBC Green Building Symposium was held between 16-18th November in the Polish Aviation Museum.

Cracow for few days became a green building capital of the world. The PLGBC Green Building Symposium, which took place on 16-18th November, gathered experts, consultants, investors, and producers from all over the world. The main discussion topic was the development of green building in Poland and East-Central Europe.

The PLGBC Symposium (Polish Green Building Council) was held for the third time. The three-day debates was attended by over 200 people, representing expert associations, leading certification organisations, property developers and construction firms, and environmental solution manufacturers. The Symposium was also combined with World Green Building Council Europe Network Meeting – the meeting of people representing sustainable construction associations from all over the world, which took place on 15th November.

Optimistic perspective

Green building market in Poland flourishes,” said Agnes Vorbrodt, Founder and Vice President of PLGBC, during the inauguration of symposium, which took place in the Polish Aviation Museum. She noted that Polish real estate market is approaching a significant threshold of 100 buildings designed according to the standards of sustainable construction.

The importance of sustainable building worldwide was discussed by Paul King, President of UKGBC (United Kingdom Green Building Council). He presented organisations, more and more frequently appearing in the world, which deal with promotion and implementation of green standards, within the World Green Building Council. The speaker also spoke about the functioning of the network which gathers European experts of sustainable development (Europe Regional Network). Its priorities are: increasing competence, education, and creating a coherent strategy.

The main focus of the first day was on political actions aiming at the promotion of green building. Jerome Gautier, Director of Green Building Government’s Mission at French Ministry of Environment, presented strategy which is being implemented by the French government. In turn Elżbieta Koterba, Vice President of Cracow, stressed the city’s involvement in this aspect, especially when it comes to spatial planning. The analysis of Polish legal regulations relating to environmental norms was carried out by Radosław Skowron from a law firm KKPW (Kaczor Klimczyk Pucher Wypiór). He noted that Polish legislation places a huge emphasis on controlling the influence of building investments on natural environment, and ecological factors are vital in the process of obtaining all necessary permissions.

Achievements in the development of green building and prospects for the future in East-Central Europe was discussed by Steven Borncamp, President of Romania Green Building Council. Data presented by him unambiguously showed an intense spread of the idea of ​​sustainable development in this region. According to the speaker, in the next few years green building will become a universally applicable standard, without which no serious investment will be made.

Awarded the best

The first day of the symposium culminated with a ceremony, during which Green Building Awards 2011 and awards in „Green building and green interior” ecological architecture competition were handed out. Among the objects with precertification Green Building Award 2011 were Poleczki Business Park (LEED CS Gold) and Eurocentrum Office Complex (LEED CS Gold) in Warsaw. The title ‘Green developer of the year’ was given to ALLCON (for ALLCON @ park 3, the building in Gdańsk) and Ghelamco (for Katowice Business Point, the office block in Katowice). Awarded architecture firms: UBM Poland (for the Poleczki Business Park Project) and Wielkopolska Enterprises Ltd. Industrial Engineering (for the office and production building in Poznań). The title ‘Product of the year’ was given to: SITAG’s conference furniture systems and ActivTek’s Induct air treatment systems.

Awards in PLGBC Green Building Competition were given to: Demonstrative Passive House in Złotowo (Emilia Durka-Zielińska, Walenty Durka) -  in the category of the best eco property, Sustainable School in Maślice (the Synergy Group) – in the category of ecological interior, Autonomous House Available (Ludomir Duda’s Team) – among ecological projects. Student project award was received by the authors of Multifamily Building in Brzeg (Alicja Pustelnik, Natalia Kulinska, Agata Rogowska, Artur Nitribitt, a supervisor – Ph.D. Anna Bac).

Certification leaders

The second day of the symposium was devoted mainly to building certification systems: LEED, BREEAM, DGNB i HQE. The debates were attended by board members of certifying organizations: Scott Horst, Vice President of LEED at DGNB, Martin Townsend – Director of BREEAM, Christine Lemaitre – President of DGNB, and Ana Cunha – Board Member of French GBC, presenting HQE system.

Scott Horst presented innovations in the LEED system and a completely new building assessment tool – LEED 2012.The speaker highlighted the necessity of integral treatment of an investment process with the aim of achieving best results. Horst said that, “It’s proved that multi-criteria building assessment systems such as LEED or BREEAM improve the functioning of buildings.” He also emphasized the main intention of the authors of certification systems, namely the total reduction of the impact of new buildings on environment. The Vice President of USGBC presented data related to the development of green construction and the LEED certification. The USGBC certificates daily 140 thousand square meters. The LEED Certification was granted to over 10 thousand buildings, whereas over 120 thousand objects with a total area of 17 million square meters are registered in the system. The number of buildings which gained the LEED certification located beyond the United States is also increasing.

Ana Cunha presented assumptions of the French green building certification system – the HQE  (Haute qualité environnementale). In turn Alfonso Ponce, Board Member of UNEP-SBCI (United Nations Environment Programme – Sustainable Buildings and Climate Imitative), the UN’s program devoted to the development of sustainable construction, analysed investors’ tendency to use several multi-criteria systems for one building.

The Director of BREEAM, Martin Townsend, discussed the issue of market demand for improved certification systems. In his opinion, the effectiveness of green building promotion can be enhanced through a constant collaboration of certifying organisations and a realisation of educational tasks. He noted also that the ideas of sustainable construction are not solely related to investors, designers and contractors, but are important for the whole society. It can be proved by the increasing number of certified residential space.

The speakers took part in a panel discussion, moderated by President of PLGBC, Rafał Schurma. The panelists considered the impact of multi-criteria assessment systems on the development of good practices at real estate market.

New initiatives

A LEED for Homes International Pilot, intended for house-building, was presented during the symposium. Thanks to the PLGBC efforts, it has become available also for Polish investors.

Building materials certification program, the PLGBC Green Products and Materials Certification, presented by Rafał Schurma, will be of great importance for the Polish real estate market. Its role is to enhance the effectiveness of sustainable construction and help investors to get the materials assessed by the LEED, BREEAM, and DGNB certification systems. The certification program assumes the evaluation of materials and products in almost every category, from roofing, through thermal insulation, paints and carpeting, to taps. The assessment will take into account factors such as biodegradability, harmful emissions, and safety. A pilot program, which is currently run, involved a number of large manufacturers.

The second day of the symposium was concluded by Vice President of PLGBC, Roman Hatossy, who presented the concept of innovations in the field of green building. He said that, “A systematised approach to innovations is a very interesting concept for those who start having contact with them as well as those who have dealt with them for some time. Sustainable construction is an area, which is filled to the brim with innovations.

The third day of the PLGBC Symposium was devoted to training courses for participants. They have an opportunity to become acquainted with the assumptions of green building and the functioning of particular certification systems. Moreover, special attention was paid to the significance of certification processes in a positive development of Public Relations.

More and more companies and institutions support sustainable construction. Conferences and training courses are organised in order to teach environmental solutions. The PLGBC Symposium proves the great interest in green building. It is no longer the concept invented by the group of idealists, but it is becoming a specific program, with institutional facilities, precise tools, market and political opportunities, and, above all, a growing community of experts.

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