Convinced that enhancing the sustainability of existing buildings can help them to compete successfully in a tough international market, a business centre owner in Romania has put his money where his mouth is – and made his point.
Built in 2006 for the commercial real estate market in Romania’s second largest city, the Olimpia Business Centre faces stiff competition from newer buildings but nevertheless attracts major international tenants and is fully occupied. One of the reasons for this is the owner’s determination to ensure that the building is demonstrably at the forefront of the drive for greater sustainability. With a gross internal area of 6809m2, this Class A office complex is located in Cluj-Napoca, historically the capital of Transylvania and now the seat of Cluj County in the north west of the country. The Olimpia Business Centre is the first BREEAM In-Use certificated building in that region and its tenants include Citibank, RCS-RDS, Evalueserve, Thomsons and Bose.
Taking the plunge
Alexandru Galos the owner of Olimpia Business Park first decided to put the building through Parts 1 and 2 of the BREEAM In-Use certification process. “By implementing BREEAM In-Use certification on our building we truly believe that the running costs of the building will be lower and the building market value will increase,” said Galos about this decision. “In addition, we believe tenants will be more willing to rent or extend contracts there.”
The building achieved highly creditable “Very Good” and “Good” ratings for Part 1 (Asset) and Part 2 (Building Management) respectively. Galos found that in the first year of operating BREEAM In-use, the market value of the asset improved as he had anticipated, the building achieved lower running costs and staff productivity was reported to be higher. The tenants expressed their appreciation of the higher quality of the building envelope and installation systems, and the improvements made to exterior landscaping.
In view of the positive experience of the assessment process and the first year of certification – and the favourable feedback from building occupiers – Galos and the building management team decided to seek improved BREEAM ratings for the second year of certification.
“The owner and the team were very keen for their building to score as highly as practicably possible,” says the BREEAM In-Use Assessor on the project, Alexandra Stoica, “not only for the prestige involved, but also because it is very important to be able to offer the building’s multinational tenants the same conditions and quality of workplace that they can find in their countries of origin.”
Keeping up with the new boys
The real estate market is a fast moving and highly competitive one, but Stoica believes that a recognised and trusted badge of sustainability helps to keep buildings ahead of the competition. “A new commercial building in Cluj-Napoca has recently gained an ‘Excellent’ rating under the BREEAM standard for New Construction,” she says. “Olimpia Business Centre’s owner wanted to match that achievement and demonstrate to the market that older buildings can provide as cost effective and high quality a work environment as the best of the newest ones.”
In the initial BREEAM assessment the building performed especially well in categories such as Materials, Waste and Health & Wellbeing. This is due, for example, to the particular attention that the owner gave to the quality of construction materials and the commitment of the management team to improving – every year – the issues related to waste and the health & wellbeing of the building occupants.
For the second assessment Stoica was able to give guidance to the owner and management team on the actions needed to achieve the targeted ‘Excellent’ rating in both Parts 1 and 2 of BREEAM In-Use. She advised, for example, on investing in low carbon technologies including those for renewable energy generation, and in systems to allow the use of recycled and rain water.
The adoption of these recommendations included introducing low and zero carbon technologies such as solar panels and photovoltaics, and a rainwater tank for the collection and use of rainwater for irrigation. These and several other initiatives further improved the centre’s sustainability performance resulting in much improved Part 1 and 2 scores for the second year of BREEAM In-Use – and delivering the coveted BREEAM Excellent ratings that had been targeted. Despite this success the building’s owner and management team are not resting on their laurels – they remain committed to an ongoing process of improvement to both the building asset and its management.
For more information on BREEAM go to www.breeam.com/inuse