Tuesday, 08 November 2016

Does buildings certification lower energy costs in offices?

“Business for Climate. Operating Costs of Office Buildings” is a pioneering European scale publication which compares energy consumption by certified and non-certified office buildings in the Polish marketplace and also presents best practices of companies involved in addressing climate change. The study, carried out by key real estate players in Poland, provided the first and only such analysis, based on energy consumption data from 48 office buildings. It is a first step in building energy efficiency benchmark for Poland.

Energy cost is usually the largest amount for building’s operating costs. The real estate market keeps looking for ways to lower this cost, for example by means of ecological certification. Is this really an effective way to reduce the energy expenses? The working group conducting the study tried to answer this very question. As part of Operating Costs of Office Buildings project they analysed electrical and thermal energy consumption and utility water usage for all 12 months of 2014. The sample comprised 26 buildings with LEED or BREEAM certificate, which is 17.5% of all the certified office buildings in Poland (at the point of collecting the data), and 22 non-certified buildings.

The study, its results and conclusion attracted a lot of attention from real estate experts in Europe. “The most basic expectation of a cost benefit resulting from resource conservation remains difficult to show. In fact, some reports indicate that a higher consumption of energy and water may be associated with sustainability certification. It is possible that the behaviour of tenants and building managers has a larger impact on resource consumption than its structural characteristics. The data collected for this project appears to confirm that perspective” - Nikodem Szumiło, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge comments.

“The working group members have no doubts about the study continuation perspective. The pilot study’s findings form the perfect basis for the extension of the research. All the more so that the consistent dynamic development of the real estate market, including green certification sector, enables access to wider data. The extension of our research tool would also increase the chance to demonstrate certain dependencies between office buildings and their operating costs.” concludes Piotr Strzyżewski, Technical Specialist, SPIE Polska.

The entities involved in developing the methodology objectives plus the sample and collected data analysis, were key players in the market of office buildings. These companies were: SPIE Polska (project coordinator), BuroHappold Engineering, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Knight Frank, National Energy Conservation Agency S.A., Savills Property Management and Skanska Property Poland, who all cooperated within wider imitative ‘Analysing the sustainable construction market in Poland’, led by Construction Marketing Group.

“In 2013 we initiated the project with the aim of conducting a current perception survey about the sustainable construction market. This study allowed us to identify areas that require more awareness raising on what sustainable construction is and what social and economic benefits it brings. The analysis of resource use by certified and non-certified buildings started by CMG in 2014 will allow to build an energy efficiency benchmark for Poland.” – says Katarzyna Chwalbińska – Kusek, founder of Construction Marketing Group, co-chair of EEB Platform Poland, Marketing & Business Development Manager in BuroHappold Engineering.

The study Operating Costs of Office Buildings was presented for the first time at the international conference Business for Climate, which took place in Warsaw, June 2016. The aim of the event was a discussion about COP 21 commitments and their possible and probable impacts on business. The invited guests and numerous attendants aimed to answer the questions: ‘Will the COP21 commitments boost energy efficiency in the building market?’, ‘How to use power consumption data in practice?’, ‘Which best practices do businesses implement in the Polish market?’.

The event partners were: Akzo Nobel Decorative Paintings, Armstrong Polska, BNP Paribas Real Estate, BuroHappold Engineering, all companies that take care of the environment. These companies’ representatives shared the best practices from their organizations in the Polish market: recycling, projects reducing gas emission, sustainable production, effective use of existing resources, solutions reducing negative impact, internal campaigns and ensuring top quality working environments.

“Care for the environment is the joint responsibility of politicians, cities and businesses.” - highlights Michał Olszewski, Deputy Mayor of Warsaw.

“The role of cities and multi-stakeholder platforms, like the EEB Platform Poland, shall be key for this. They perform a critical coordination role, which the market does not naturally provide – to align initiatives and increase awareness as well as knowledge sharing.” - adds Roland Hunziker, Director Sustainable Buildings and Cities, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

“The pioneering projects, such as Business for Climate conference and Operating Costs of Office Buildings study drew a lot of interest and are an example of the shift in the attitudes of building owners, tenants and employees towards climate change.”, says Aneta Kłodaś, Managing Director, Bluevine Consulting, co-organiser of Business for Climate. “This is why, together with EEB Platform Poland, the project partners and Construction Marketing Group members, we are presenting a unique publication summarising the best practices on the Polish market and presenting the pioneering comparison of the data on energy consumption by certified and non-certified office buildings in Poland.”

The report is available here:



Operating Costs of Office Buildings

Project initator: Construction Marketing Group
Project coordinator: SPIE Polska 
Project partners: BuroHappold Engineering, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Knight Frank, Savills, Skanska Property Poland
Support for data analysis: National Energy Conservation Agency S.A

Business for Climate

Organisers: EEB Platform Poland, Bluevine Consulting
Strategic partner: World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Honorary patrons: the Mayor of the City of Warsaw, Warsaw Branch of Association of Polish Architects
Content partners: BuroHappold Engineering, Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, Akzo Nobel, BNP Paribas Real Estate
Partners: BPIE, National Energy Conservation Agency S.A, ZEBRA 2020