February 08, 2016

Prague’s Galerie Harfa obtains LEED gold certificate

Prague’s Galerie Harfa obtains LEED gold certificate

What primarily makes the acquired certificate unique is that the certification was performed for a shopping centre (interest in certification is far more common for office buildings), which has moreover already been operating for 5 years. In the LEED system the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance (LEED EB:OM) certificate is designated for such certification, as it reflects the true performance and parameters of the centre, unlike the certificates that tend to be given to projects before they are built. There are only 24 shopping centres throughout the world with a LEED certificate for existing buildings. Only two shopping centres (in Dubai and Singapore) have received a better rating than Galerie Harfa.

Certificates of energy and environmental efficiency are increasingly part of planned office buildings, logistics complexes and new shopping centres. There is less interest in certification for buildings that have already been built and are operating. Though to the lay public it may seem that the decision to acquire certification is only a marketing tool, such certification (and therefore also the desired energy savings) represents a considerable intervention in the daily operation of the building, even for several years. After carefully comparing the two most well-known certification methods, the owner of Galerie Harfa, the Lighthouse Group, chose LEED. Unlike the competing BREEAM, for which it is possible to exclude the area of the leased spaces, LEED assessed the building as a whole, thus including the tenants’ spaces. LEED certification places a greater emphasis on measurable cost savings for energy. This is given by the inclusion of an energy audit according to the international ASHRAE standard in the minimum requirements and it represents one of the main reasons why this certification was applied to Galerie Harfa.

“We made the decision to begin the activity leading to savings as part of the LEED certification two years ago. We were not aiming at a concrete certification level since our shopping centre had already been operating for a few years and thus we were aware of the difficulty of the implementation, which is incomparably greater than for buildings that are “on paper”. Plus shopping centres are at a disadvantage compared to office buildings in terms of energy savings due to the almost non-stop opening hours and the large number of visitors that come to shop in the centre every day or come for entertainment and leisure. The obligation to recertify every five years is a great plus for us as it will enable us to either maintain the savings we have reached or, in light of new technologies, to increase them even further,” said Tamir Winterstein, the Executive Director and Partner of the Lighthouse Group.

This was also confirmed by the consultants from SENTIENT, which managed and arranged the LEED certification for Galerie Harfa. As Martin Scheuch, the company’s agent, commented: “Getting a certificate for a building that has already been standing for some time and does not have the absolute latest technology is quite demanding. But if all the technical equipment is properly configured and tuned, it ensures the reliable and flawless functioning of the measuring and regulation system, then the building can function even better than a newly-built building with certification. And that was a success in Galerie Harfa. Plus in this instance the entire building was assessed, including the tenants’ spaces, which is the greatest difference in comparison with BREEAM In Use and this fact raises the credibility of the acquired assessment even higher.” Pavel Srb, LEED AP, who led the certification, added: “When there are a large number of tenants it is often not possible to get some of the evaluation credits concerning, for example, surveys of satisfaction with the quality of the internal environment or commuting to work. But with professional help on the part of the centre’s administration we also managed to succeed here as well.”

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