Market Talk: Sustainability Issues in Office Development
What drives sustainability issues in Budapestʼs office developments? Is “being green” really a pre-requisite, rather than a marketing plus point? The Budapest Business Journal asked a number of the principal players to assess the market.
Sustainability accreditations have a determinative influence on the whole interior and exterior design of our projects. That is one key factor why Atenor is focusing on large scale campus style developments, as our mission goes beyond creating office areas; we would like to play a significant role in establishing new green environments around our buildings as well. Therefore, we pay attention to the interior green areas (terraces, gardens, atriums) and exteriors (parks and green passages).
Sustainability is the present and future of the office market as 100% of the newly constructed buildings have green certification, and most of the existing properties are aiming to achieve it [retrospectively]. So, green and sustainable solutions have become basic norms and thus it is a necessity for concluding a successful lease or investment deals.
Atenor developments are not directed by market pressures, but by social and economic responsibility. As from the beginning, we still believe that this will provide added value, so we are continuing our strategy of building the most modern, sustainable and highest quality spaces.
Accessibility is crucial and therefore we prefer locations with metro and/or tram connections. On the other hand, spaciousness is another very important factor for us, as our mission is to enrich the urban landscape with word-class, sustainable buildings in a pleasant, green and livable environment.
Leasing and development director
The design process already takes into consideration the requirements of green accreditation and, thus, we have already incorporated many features such as bicycle racks, shower facilities, rain water collection systems, disabled accessibility and many other features into the plans. The interesting part was to incorporate sustainable methodologies during construction, such as special waste management, building materials and establishing sustainable working condition for the construction workers.
As sustainability has become a standard feature of a class “A” office building, the related costs are only marginally directly related to sustainability features. For CPI, sustainability has become a vital issue as we have entered into the bond market and this is an important KPI for our bond investors.
In today’s tight labor supply situation, quality interior features have become more important to be able to lease a commercial property. That is why we have to put more influence on the interior design process and to create a “home feel” environment. At CPI, both PM and FM are internally managed and, for these, sustainability is one of the key focus points of the operation.
With regard to locational issues, when sourcing a development site nothing has changed in the past 50 years. A central location and good accessibility have always been the key selection criteria.
Sustainability certifications require more efficient and innovative building systems, rainwater harvesting, efficient glazing and shading, certified materials, extensive green areas, and amenities like cycle storages and electric car chargers. Restaurants in these buildings have to provide healthy food for the building users.
Sustainability is now a basic norm in order to successfully lease office buildings. Developments without sustainable solutions are not competitive at the market, as the tenants always consider this issue when they move into a new building.
Applying for certification adds no significant increase on the development cost, only 1-1.5%. As tenants’ demands grow higher, the buildings have to comply with higher standards, even without certification. New developments have to comply with increasingly strict European regulations as well.
Sustainability accreditation for investor acquisitions is an important, even decisive factor. Investors usually have a policy regarding this issue which they apply evenly across countries. They also have to ensure that their building is profitable, and attractive to tenants who demand sustainability.
External and internal parts of the base building are designed as part of an integrated process. Integration of fit-out design depends on the nature of the building (built-to-suit or core and shell), and the schedule of the different tenants. Some standard elements of the fit-outs have to be defined during base building design.
Head of sustainability consultancy
The satisfaction of Immofinanz’ tenants is an essential factor for achieving and maintaining high occupancy levels and strong tenant loyalty. This, in turn, is the guarantee for efficient property management. Tenant loyalty through high customer satisfaction and the acquisition of new tenants, therefore represents a strategic focus of our activities.
Our office buildings are generally certified according to BREEAM and LEED certifications. It defines the highest standards for sustainable design and has become the de facto benchmark for describing the environmental impact of a building.
We have a number of ongoing initiatives, for example regular energy audits for our standing portfolios. Our goal is to continuously reduce resource consumption, while maintaining or improving the quality of building use through energy savings measures. This will help to realize energy savings and reduce the environmental impact and risks.
Immofinanz is working to meet the rising demand of tenants for sustainable mobility offerings. Activities include cooperation with car sharing providers and the installation of e-charging stations and weatherproof bicycle parking areas.
Most of our offices in Budapest are centrally located within easy reach, they have a garage and are easily accessible by public transport. Moreover, for bicycles, we have set up storage facilities and showers. In addition, all our office buildings have e-chargers to support electro mobility, which is an important trend for our future.
Country manager operations
The WELL standard is becoming the leading tool in creating an advanced healthy environment in office buildings. Currently, 3,782 projects in 58 countries are applying for accreditation. Creating healthy spaces results in a win-win situation between investors, real estate owners and tenants.
WELL complements the green building certifications (BREEAM and LEED), as it is focusing on human health and well-being in building spaces. Real estate markets are facing the increasing expectations of tenants and the global problem of retaining talents.
A WELL-certified space provides clean and healthy fresh air, natural light and proper and convenient spaces for the various types of activities in terms of furniture, noise, thermal comfort and movement. It encourages the build-up of a healthier lifestyle and supports stress release.
Offices are becoming closer to nature with community gardens, a view of nature or biophilic design. According to recent surveys, sufficient clean and fresh air and less noise in the office are at the top of the employer demand list. Community plays a huge role in our everyday life and a supportive, stress-free office environment is what most of our staff are dreaming of.
With WELL v2, the system is designed to grow in specificity and specialty over time, adapting to accommodate diverse space types and geographies and to respond to new evidence and ever-evolving public health concerns.
Partner & WELL appraiser
MN6 Energy Agency
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