Skanska, the Sweden-based multinational construction and development company, embedded green thinking into its culture and ways of working. András Schmidt, sustainability manager of Skanska Property Hungary, translates this commitment to sustainability into action.
Skanska has been strategically following its journey towards sustainable development. How can the building industry push sustainability in practice?
We believe in developing sustainable buildings in order to minimize the impact on the environment, as well as to create sustainable communities. Nevertheless, Skanska’s green focus is in line with the growing demand from our clients in this perspective. This trend doesn’t only come from the positive attitude of saving the environment, but there’s also a cost advantage to a greener construction. Even though building green is slightly more expensive, the reduced operation and maintenance costs of green buildings make them cost-efficient in the long-term. Tenants can even save up to a half of their water and energy bills, compared to other conventional office buildings.
What are the latest innovative solutions that have recently emerged in green buildings?
At Skanska, water is considered a priority, both during the construction phase and use of buildings. Skanska is a pioneer on the local market with the reuse of harvested soil and rainwater. Water-efficient solutions are widely used in our projects, however in CEE these are not commonly used technologies.
When it comes to innovations, Skanska’s commercial development unit in CEE will be the first developer worldwide to cover office buildings with semi-transparent perovskite solar cells on a commercial scale. This will revolutionize the approach towards energy self-sufficient buildings. Skanska and Saule Technologies, the institute that we are developing this innovation with, are testing the product now on a larger scale.
Skanska will complete its Mill Park office development in Budapest soon. New buildings today are expected to adhere to the highest sustainability standards. What sustainable solutions were applied at this project?
Construction is a carbon-intensive industry. One-fifth of the embodied carbon emission of the whole building life cycle is generated during construction, therefore it is essential to focus on sustainable solutions during this phase, using local and energy-friendly materials and decreasing the carbon footprint of transportation, etc.
Mill Park was designed to fulfil LEED “Gold” certification criteria. The green area ratio exceeds the local regulation by 20%, being one of the largest green spaces amongst Budapest office projects. Mill Park’s inner courtyard is unique of its kind, the 5,500 sqm multifunctional garden having several wellbeing features: relaxation area with swings, an outside fitness facility, table tennis and table football, an auditorium as well as outdoor workspaces with plugs and Wi-Fi.
If you were to encourage developers to create development projects with sustainability in mind what tips would you give?
Focus on long-term savings and use local materials. When selecting new construction products, put more emphasis on how they will reduce costs over the long-term. Purchasing from local suppliers helps reduce the energy used for transportation. This means a smaller amount of greenhouse gases are released into the environment and, in the meantime, it helps the local economy.
Prepare for the future by developing flexible projects. Ensure that your development is prepared not only for the needs and possibilities of today. Sustainability focused developers should consider a building over its whole lifetime and be ready to implement future green solutions and incorporate new sustainable materials.