The office building in Katowice was awarded the prestigious, international BREAAM International certificate at the Outstanding level, which is awarded to energy-efficient buildings where working comfort is prioritised.
The Konrad Bloch office building, which is part of the GPP Business Park complex, received the highest number of points in Poland in the certification process. “The idea of creating a unique place in terms of energy and environmental impact has been guiding us from the very beginning of developing the complex,” says Mirosław Czarnik, President of GPP Business Park S.A. “However, the construction of sustainable buildings is not only a matter of applying the latest technologies, it is primarily about greater comfort of work and lower operating costs for users,” he adds.
The BREAAM certificate is a multi-criteria tool for verifying the level of influence of a building on its surroundings and the use of the latest technologies and sustainable solutions. It is currently one of the most frequently used methods of evaluating buildings in terms of green solutions in Europe. It was created in 1990 by the British BRE organisation (Building Research Establishment). The criteria for the building evaluation include a number of aspects: land use, energy consumption, materials used, protection against emissions, waste and water and sewage management, innovation and facility management, as well as health and comfort of the user or transport. The Outstanding rating is the highest rating available in the BREEAM system. It is difficult to achieve due to the need to implement non-standard requirements in all categories. To receive such a high rating, more than 85% of all certification requirements must be met to ensure the health and well-being of the facility users and the environment.
“Having the BREAAM certificate with the highest possible rating definitely increases the value of the building. Many companies and corporations apply an environmental policy for their activities and are willing to locate their headquarters in a facility whose nature will be consistent with their approach. It is often even a requirement for the company’s headquarters to have such a certificate because it means greater comfort of work in the building,” says Mirosław Czarnik, President of GPP Business Park.
Completed in 2019, the Konrad Bloch building is the only plus-energy office building in Poland in the field of ventilation, heating and hot water preparation. This means that it produces more energy than it needs. It uses a system of trigeneration and heat pumps as well as photovoltaic panels to increase energy production capacity from renewable energy sources. The original BMS (Building Management System) controls blinds, lighting and ventilation of office space in one network. This allows to increase energy efficiency and adjust the system more closely to the needs of tenants. Thanks to these technologies and the use (at the construction stage) of improved materials with a lower heat transfer coefficient, it has been possible to reduce the costs of media usage by over 50%.
Active cooling and heating beams with individual temperature control are used in offices. Fresh air is provided by an air handling unit with heat and moisture recovery, which decreases the energy consumption. Moreover, the air handling unit keeps the air humidity within the range of 40-60%, which is most beneficial for healthy human functioning. In the process of air humidifying, silver ions are used to eliminate microorganisms, bacteria, viruses and fungi. The design of the ventilation and air-conditioning system for the Konrad Bloch building won the main prize of the PASCAL 2020 awards, granted by the Polish Ventilation Association.
“Research shows that such excellent air quality directly translates into the well-being of users, increasing their work efficiency by 20-40%. It has also been confirmed that appropriately purified and humidified air reduces morbidity and upper respiratory tract problems by up to 20-30%,” says Mirosław Czarnik. “Air quality in office spaces has been extremely important for us from the very beginning. During the pandemic, these indicators have additionally gained in importance as they directly translate into the health and safety of employees,” he adds.
The latest energy-saving technologies, high user comfort, reduced operating costs – could anything else be done to make the building greener? Yes. Bird and bat shelters and a hotel for insects have been installed in the complex. The roofs of the office buildings were covered with plants (sedums) and an apiary was built on the Konrad Bloch building.
“The BREAAM certificate at the Outstanding level is a great honour for us. It confirms our belief that in 2005 we made a good decision to transform the areas destroyed by industry into a modern zone of economic activity and innovation focused on technological development in line with the environmental trend. This trend-setting in energy-efficient construction gives satisfaction, but also a sense of responsibility. I would like to thank everyone who has worked hard for this success for several years,” says Mirosław Czarnik.