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Central and Eastern Europe goes green with 1.75 million sqm of existing office space in region already certified

JLL has released a new research report on sustainable office development in Central and Eastern Europe entitled “Offices: Going Green in CEE”. Report highlights include Poland, which leads the pack with 730,000 sqm of office space already certified.

Kevin Turpin, Head of Research and Consultancy CEE, JLL, said: “Commercial real estate is now generally recognised as pivotal in the fight against global environmental challenges, including climate change and the consumption of increasingly scarce resources. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that, globally, buildings are responsible for more than 40 percent of energy use, one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and 30 percent of raw material use.”

By the year 2020, all new buildings in the European Union will have to prove that they are nearly zero-energy buildings. By the year 2050, carbon emissions from all buildings need to be as near to zero as possible.

Regina Gul, Senior Project Manager, Project & Development Services, JLL, LEED Accredited Professional, BREEAM Assessor, explained: “Obtaining green certificates is currently the optimal way to emphasize a company’s engagement in sustainable development issues. It is also a tool that confirms how much a building’s impact on the environment has been reduced. Another factor worth highlighting is the economic aspect with certified buildings obtaining higher occupancy rates. Moreover, such facilities attract strong, widely recognized brands, who have sustainability as an integral part of their organizational culture.”

The two most well-known and popular green certification systems are LEED and BREEAM. Energy and water use, carbon emission as well as the application of eco-friendly solutions and materials are all analyzed in the certification process. The majority of certification methods also have options to improve and certify sustainable improvements for existing buildings, such as BREEAM In-Use and LEED EB:OM.

Green building certification has been rapidly expanding in the CEE region over recent years and currently stands at over 1.75 million sqm. Poland leads the CEE with over 40 percent of the region’s green building certification (730,000 sqm).

Over 71 percent of existing certified office space in the region was certified under BREEAM certificate.

Interestingly, at least 2.5 million sqm of existing developments or pipeline projects in the CEE region were registered and are targeting green certification, with Poland accounting for ca 700,000 sqm. However, it should be clearly noted that many planned BREEAM projects have not yet been registered, so the final volume of potential pipeline in Poland will be even higher. In the majority of markets, a very high percentage of new projects in the pipeline, 100 percent in some markets, will be targeting green certification. Pipeline projects also include the first green buildings from Serbia and are on the up in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

In the pipeline of office certifications projects, less operations and maintenance certifications and more new build certifications are being seen, which is due to the large pipeline in Poland (mainly Warsaw) and a gradual return of development to other parts of the region.

It is also predicted that the certification of commercial interiors will become more popular among tenants, who require sustainable offices as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) charters.

Governments are slowly increasing legislation for sustainable practices in the region but, despite all the potential benefits, are still offering little in the way of tax breaks and other incentives for investors and developers. In fact, it is largely property and asset managers, developers and occupiers who are driving this process forward on their own initiative and because of the growing number of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Ewelina Karpinska, CEE Sustainability Coordinator, JLL, LEED Green Associate, commented: “Human behaviour has an enormous impact on building performance, which means buildings are only as efficient as the people who operate them. Occupiers of property are an integral part of the quest for a more sustainable built environment. After all, you can have the most technologically advanced and efficient building, but if it is not managed or occupied correctly, then a great deal of that positive impact may be lost. This is why the JLL property management team introduced its platform for ecological initiatives in the CEE. It continues to spend a considerable amount of time and effort with its clients and their buildings tenants on improving the portfolio of properties under management from an environmental as well as a technical and efficiency standpoint.”

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