As developers in Budapest increasingly design, construct and upgrade office projects in line with sustainability accreditation requirements and environmental legislation, this will have an inevitable impact on both the shape and look of the city and the internal environment of offices.
Market players point out that this is a reciprocal phenomenon, however, as the expectations and requirements of the inhabitants of the city – and tenants and staff in offices – are also changing. If you walk around Budapest today and compare it with five zears ago, there are more people on bikes, more bike paths and more green spaces.
Building developers need to meet sustainability requirements that require less carbon emissions and shorter journey times, with a public transport option. Previously there was a fashion for projects to be undertaken in out-of-city locations with no metro or other direct public transport links, but the periphery now has the highest vacancy rates and the inner city and suburban sub-markets the lowest.
“We have come to the point where bicycle parking is now a demand. Over the past two years we have seen bicycle traffic in the city increase noticeably. We have yet to see whether electric cars will take off. I tend to think that they will. At the same time, within the life-time of these buildings it is likely that we will have self-driving cars and therefore we would not have the same demand for parking spaces,” said Michael Smithing, LEED and BREEAM assessor and director of green building advisory at Colliers International.
“Location is very important if we speak about sustainability. It is essential that the project be easily accessible by public transportation, and also for those who ride bikes to go to work. If the workplace inspires the employees to use public transportation or bicycle instead of car, it supports sustainable aims,” said Zoltán Borbély, country manager of Atenor Group Hungary.
Smithing comments that the new trends are becoming standard features. “We are getting to the point where sustainable methods have become the way we build buildings. When was the last time that they built an office building in Hungary that did not have air-conditioning? This is now just the way that architects design buildings and rating agencies are raising the bar. In five years, design teams and contractors will be so used to sustainability requirements that it will not require any further input. From our perspective, possibly we will have to find something else to do because our work will be passed onto the contractors and architects.”
The coinciding of commercial gains and meeting the needs of tenants is reflected in the policy of Skanska. “The most important issue is to keep the clients in our building for a long time. That means we have to know our client’s needs, we have to know the needs of the city and we have to know what the benefit for the city is if we build something. Further, benchmarks with regard to sustainable materials should be introduced,” said András Schmidt, sustainability director at Skanska Hungary. “An excellent location is also very important. However, alternative transportation like electrical cars etc. should be considered when choosing a plot in the future,” he added.
Baláys Simonyi, leasing director at CPI concurs with this view. “Good accessibility and less transportation are basic from a sustainability perspective. Close vicinity of mass public transportation, easy connection to highways or direct links to bicycle paths are essential. On the other hand, services and amenities in-house or nearby areß just as influential, by reducing or eliminating traveling needs,” he said.
Immofinanz sees that the increasing importance for tenants to have their offices in an environmentally sustainable building will impact the company’s acquisition and asset management strategy, going forward.
Zoltán Borbély, country manager at Atenor Group Hungary, says developers have to be innovative today for the cities of tomorrow. “Sustainable developments will have notable marks on the cities in the near future – some already have. Cities go smart, and developments need to find their roles and spaces in a continuously changing environment with new challenges day by bay. Topics such as mobility, use of energy resources, and quality of the environment, connectivity, governance and citizen involvement also deserve innovative approaches from the developer side.”