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Rise of the Green Offices: Sustainable Construction and Renewable Power

REAL ESTATERise of the Green Offices: Sustainable Construction and Renewable Power

Studies indicate that environmental, social, and governance initiatives (ESG) will increasingly become important to both institutional investors and shareholders, as well as company business environments. “ESG has permanently entered office spaces, and green offices are the near future.” says Marta Zawadzka, Leasing Director at Yareal Polska.

ESG is an acronym, indicating the three pillars of non-financial assessment of companies and organizations – environmental, social responsibility, and corporate governance. These form the foundation for ratings considered by investors and the business environment, encompassing practically all aspects of operation, including office spaces.

“ESG has permanently made its way into the office spaces. In office projects, it’s not only about reporting obligations, but also about caring for the environment. We use low-emission concrete or recycled materials for construction. Environmental care is also evidenced in the management of light, water, or the use of rainwater for watering green spaces. All these initiatives help us reduce CO2 emissions into the environment”, says Marta Zawadzka in an interview with the Newseria Biznes agency.

At the beginning of the 21st century, nobody contemplated the extent to which carbon footprints depend on offices. Today, it’s a matter of serious analysis, starting from the design phase of a new building.

“The size of the carbon footprint can be determined from the construction stage itself, with the use of appropriate materials like low-emission concrete. Limiting adverse effects on the environment includes using electricity from wind farms, or recycled materials”, notes the expert.

Taking only these factors into account, one can mitigate CO2 emissions right at the start of the investment process. Further stages involve project and property management aspects, which can provide ways to reduce electricity and water consumption.

The sooner enterprises recognize the importance of ESG in their functioning in the coming years, the better. According to a “Friendly Offices – A Guide to Buildings Where You’d Want to Work” report by ThinkCo, 83% of experts believe that ESG initiatives will increase shareholder value in the next five years. Nearly three-quarters of individual investors (74%) consider divesting from entities with low sustainable development performance.

Signs indicate that by 2028, every new building in the EU will have to meet zero-emission standards. ThinkCo notes that international funds are currently not investing in buildings lacking green certificates. Tenants also increasingly consider ESG-compliant offices, illustrating that the term “green office” is not merely a distant vision.

“When I think of a green office, I imagine lots of greenery, photovoltaics, heat pumps, use of renewable energy sources, deliberate management, saving. This is how I see offices in a few years,” comments Marta Zawadzka.

ThinkCo points to studies, suggesting that green offices translate to a 26% boost in employee productivity. 93% of people working in such facilities report better well-being and job satisfaction. The impact of natural light and modern ventilation reduces the number of sick leave days. However, these trends don’t imply that older buildings are doomed for demolition.

“We see an increasing number of newly built office buildings in the Polish market utilizing all aspects of the CO2 reduction model and ESG points. There’s also a significant portion of older office buildings, which are now frequently undergoing redevelopment, bought, and renovated. They have new installations, becoming more efficient and ergonomic. These buildings gain a new life”, explains the Yareal Polska expert.

As per the Central Statistical Office (GUS), 497 new office buildings were commissioned in 2023, a decline of 4.1% from 2022. The total usable area of new offices last year was 779.1 thousand sqm., a decline of 3.3%.

Most of the new office space nationwide was created in the Silesian (19.9%), Lesser Poland (15.5%), Lower Silesian (14.8%), and Mazovian (14.2%) voivodeships. The smallest share of new office space relates to the Lubusz (1%), Holy Cross (0.8%), and Warmian-Masurian (0.6%) voivodeships.

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