Green Construction. Solutions to Environmental Problems

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Abstract

Green construction is a modern answer to evolving environmental issues such as global warming, waste production, and water/air pollution. The new building approach is guided by the principles of sustainable development and requires the comprehensive collaboration of stakeholders and the use of eco-friendly materials in the design and construction phases. Developers apply modern technologies that increase the controllability and management of different building systems in order to decrease costs and adverse effects on their surroundings. This paper aims to review the Wronia 31office building project situated in Warsaw, Poland, as an example of a successful single development.

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The main information on the project concerning its type, purpose, stakeholders, design, applied technologies, and certification is presented and analyzed. Ghelamco Poland, as a developer and site owner, in collaboration with an architectural studio and an engineering company, had commissioned the “green” project in 2017. According to BREEAM, the building received an Outstanding rating level at the post-construction phase. Implementation of advanced technologies such as VRV, Day Light Control, EEV, and other systems contributed to the project’s success. Wronia 31 increased community integration and simultaneously reduced a negative impact on the environment and society, especially in comparison to conventional buildings. Analysis proved that Ghelamco became the building leader of Central and Eastern Europe, and its project can serve as an excellent reference for future developments.

The Essence of Green Construction

The formation of a modern socio-environment would not be possible without advanced building activities. However, conventional technologies require extensive natural resources and emit various wastes, which harm the environment. Liu and Lin claim that the building sector is responsible for 42% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the world and 50% of global final energy consumption (68). Green building emerged as an Earth-friendly alternative to the conventional construction process that is aimed at building responsibly. The main considerations of green construction technology are material section, indoor environmental quality, assessment of building’s impact on its surroundings, and energy/water use. In other words, it is a new building approach that incorporates sustainable development principles. Wronia 31 project has been chosen as an example of green construction products for further evaluation. This paper aims to present the main information regarding the project itself and its impact on the environment.

Green building technologies and methods are implemented in many countries worldwide to address issues such as ozone depletion, desertification, climate change, and land pollution. The idea of sustainability was formed during the last 25 years, and today more and more developers seek to simultaneously improve the quality of life and save biodiversity and natural resources (Yong et al. 671). A green construction project requires a wide range of stakeholders, including engineers, architects, government agents, building operators, owners, who have to collaborate intensively with each other to meet modern “green” standards. The integrated and comprehensive construction and design processes are prerequisites for successful green building activity.

The multidisciplinary and complex teamwork of all stakeholders is essential to ensure that innovative green building solutions are found, designed, and fully implemented. Both Integrated Design Process (IDP) and Integrated Construction Process (ICP) involves project’s parties in an extensive collaboration that guide green building technologies and strategies, provide step-by-step procedures, and defines responsibilities of all stakeholders (Yong et al. 672). Thus, to be successful, every modern green building project should rely not only on eco-friendly materials, cost reduction approaches, but also on sophisticated design and construction process management. The green construction has large market potential in developing states that was estimated by IFC to reach 24,7 trillion dollars by 2030 (Donnelly). The forecast states that demand for both commercial and residential constructions will rise together with the world’s urban population growth. Generally, green buildings help to decrease costs, improve value, communities’ economic and social health, and attract new capital.

Overview of the Wronia 31 Project

Wronia 31 is a commercial building situated in Poland that was recognized as the best project in Central and Eastern Europe by BREEAM Awards in 2019. It is an office building that possesses fifteen floors and belongs to the modern business center of Warsaw. Wronia 31 was commissioned in September 2017, providing 850 sq. m. for commercial spaces and more than 15,000 for top-class offices (“Wronia 31, Poland”). This building was erected following Building Research Establishment guidelines and the principles of sustainable construction.

It is situated in Wola district, which became the new business center of the Polish capital. The 15-story office building’s location provides outstanding connectivity with the help of public and private transport. The building was constructed near the Warsaw Spire complex that consists of the 180-meter skyscraper and two side buildings of 55 m, but it is not a part of this complex (Szolomicki and Golasz-Szolomicka 460). Both commercial projects were commissioned by the same developer, Ghelamco, and received high recognition as modern green buildings by certification institutions and business communities. However, the Warsaw Spire was certified with Excellent ratings, whereas Wronia 31 received Outstanding certification from the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

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Project’s Stakeholders

A construction project usually has an extensive checklist of both internal and external stakeholders. Internal ones are those who finance or belong to the team members of the project. Ghelamco Poland simultaneously was the project’s developer, contractor, and client. In general, Ghelamco Group, which was initially registered in Belgium, is an international development and construction company that deals with commercial and residential real estate projects (“Wronia 31”). It usually manages and controls all the stages of the building process raging from financing to facilities management and tenant services.

Jasper-Eyers Architects, what is a studio that designed the European Parliament, provided an eco-friendly building plan. The neighboring Warsaw Spire was also designed by the Belgian group of architects (“Wronia 31”). In general, the firm’s practice is focused on achieving excellence in design that provides a balance between environmental friendliness and cost reduction. Their extensive profile ranges from private lofts to buildings that belong to the European Union.

Such elements as heating, water, ventilation, power, and control systems were planned and monitored by engineers from Bilfinger Tebodin B.V. This company was established in the Netherlands and currently offers advanced consultancy and engineering services. The developer remained the owner of the building for a long time until Wronia 31 was sold to LaSalle Investment Management. The deal took place in April 2019, and the real estate investment manager paid EUR 74 million to Ghelamco Group (Hayes). The construction’s main tenants are Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and BNP Paribas Security Services, which accounts for half of the building’s spaces (Hayes). Wronia 31 also houses a bilingual kindergarten KiDS&Co and design studio Massive Design.

Green Technologies

The project employed a range of modern building technologies. For instance, curtain walls were installed to isolate building interior against temperature changes, sun exposure, and wind. These aluminum-framed walls increase interior environmental control and reduce costs related to lighting. Only materials with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emission from responsible sources were utilized during construction. The elements of the building that are the most damage-prone, such as finishing strips in wall corners, were constructed of solid materials. Nevertheless, 80% of building waste was recycled, while the lifecycle assessment (LCA) analysis was successfully conducted (“Wronia 31, Poland”). This kind of product appraisal considers all phases of the construction process and assesses its influence on the environment starting from raw materials to its day-to-day operation.

In order to minimize energy consumption, the Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) system for heating and cooling was installed. This HVAC technology allows the building’s owners to adjust and control the flow of refrigerant to various internal units due to the simple vapor compression cycle (Coley). To put it simply, the name of the technology comes from the system’s structure that usually has a single condensing unit that supports the separate use of many evaporators of different configurations. As a result, the amount of refrigerant flowing to different areas and spaces of the structure can be easily controlled and adjusted according to the heating and cooling needs. The high automatization is possible with the help of electronic expansion valves (EEV) that regulate the amount of refrigerant guided by signals sent by an electronic controller. This system simultaneously contributes to lower CO2 emission and more efficient usage of resources.

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The contractor also installed automated solenoid valves to take care of adequate water consumption. Low flow rate devices and presence detectors contribute to the water power system efficiency. Solenoid valves similarly to VRV technology is based on the idea of high automatization and controllability. This technology is employed to open, close, and distribute the liquid in pipes of the building. It helps to use water conscientiously and to reduce electric power usage.

In terms of lighting, the LED frames divided into zones are used in the interiors, whereas external lighting ensures luminous efficacy. The DayLight Control system automatically manages the lighting by adjusting the number of lamps working depending on the time of day. This technology is based on photosensors that detect changes in daylight illumination and then send signals to the controller that, in response, changes the luminous flux of the electric lighting system (“Wronia 31”). Modern LED light sources are installed in common areas of the building (halls, toilets) that significantly decrease the energy consumption of the building.

Moreover, the segregation system was designed to meet conscious waste management requirements. Waste sorting is accompanied by special recycling bins, both for mixed garbage and unsafe trash. The waste generated in offices then transfers to the adjusted refuse room for segregation. Finally, waste is collected by professional companies dealing with garbage recycling in accordance with the agreement. In terms of lifting, the PORT smart control system allows people who work in the building to use special keycards that can be individually configured to set an automatic destination (“Wronia 31, Poland”). The regenerative drive implemented in the lifts contributes to its reduced power consumption.

Regarding the question of terraces and the building’s flora, a special tank that collects rainwater was also installed to assure the further watering of vegetation surrounding the office structure. Biologically active surface areas in the terraces increase the retention of rainwater and the effectiveness of its discharge. In terms of the health and wellbeing of the users, Wronia 31 is fully disabled-friendly, soundproof, and quiet. All internal systems can be easily controlled and adjusted by its users. Furthermore, the developer placed a garage hall for 195 vehicles under the office and took care of special infrastructure for cyclists, which consists of 54 parking places and two changing rooms with a shower.

Wronia 31: Certification and Recognition

The certification plays an essential role in the industry as it helps to avoid inconsistency of self-reporting, greenwashing, and provides developers, investors, and tenants with an assurance that the project meets green standards. The main rating systems are BREEAM, IFC’s EDGE, and LEED (Donnelly). Currently, there is a proliferation of rating systems, standards, and green codes that helps to build high-performance, sustainable structures. BREEAM is one of the most well-known and cutting-edge certificates that confirm that the project is based on sustainability principles.

Wronia 31, which was assessed by Sweco on behalf of BREEAM, eventually received 86.6% at the post-construction stage. It corresponds to the Outstanding certification level, which is the highest possible rating (“BREEAM Awards”). Furthermore, in 2019 the Ghelamco’s project was recognized as the best building ever certified by BREEAM in the Central and Eastern Europe. During the CIJ Awards Poland 2018, Wronia 31 was proclaimed as the Leading Green Building Development project (“Quality Honored”). All mentioned awards confirmed that Ghelamco’s efforts to build an eco-friendly office building were not in vain.

Community Integration

This award proved that Ghelamco remains the Polish real estate market leader with respect to green construction. Wronia 31 increased community integration and simultaneously reduced negative impact on the environment and society, especially in comparison to conventional buildings. Modern technical solutions that were employed during construction resulted in lower maintenance costs and reduced energy consumption. New offices provide comfortable, safe, and practical workplaces for Ghelamco’s tenants and their employees. Terraces that were planted with greenery significantly contribute to the quality of air in its surroundings, as it situated in the very center of Warsaw. Tenants perceive Wronia 31 as a top-tier office building that offers excellent spaces, reduces maintenance costs, and cares about its environment, what is in line with their corporate social responsibility strategies. The local community also appreciates such types of commercial buildings because it proved to be more useful than conventional ones.

Conclusion

To conclude, the idea of sustainable development is embedded in green construction that is a modern answer to environmental challenges. Wronia 31, which was built in Warsaw, is an excellent example of a commercial building designed and erected according to green building guidelines. The project was commissioned by Ghelamco, the green construction leader in Central and Eastern Europe. The developer partnered with Bilfinger Tebodin B.V. and Jasper-Eyers Architects to ensure the high quality of the project’s design and construction phases. Such technologies as curtain walls, VRB system, LED frames, automated solenoid valves, PORT smart technology, and advanced segregation system contributed to the “green” success of Wronia 31. BREEAM recognized it as the most sustainable building in the region, which speaks for itself. The analysis proved that the project deserves the award because it used modern scientific advancements and eco-friendly materials during construction, while its design is favorable for the local surroundings and community.

Works Cited

“BREEAM Awards for Wronia and Binarium.” Eurobuild CEE, 2019.

Coley, Matt. “What is a VRF System? Top Myths and Facts about VRF Explained.” Ferguson, 2018.

Donnelly, John. “Building Green-The Business Case.” International Finance Corporation, 2019.

Hayes, Alex. “Ghelamco Divests Wronia 31.” Eurobuild CEE, 2019.

Liu, Hongxun, and Boqiang Lin. “Ecological Indicators for Green Building Construction.” Ecological Indicators, vol. 67, 2016, pp. 68-77.

“Quality Honored at CIJ Awards Poland.” Encompassme, 2018.

Szolomicki, Jerzy, and Hanna Golasz-Szolomicka. “Architectural and Structural Analysis of Selected Tall Buildings in Warsaw, Poland.” International Journal of Architectural and Environmental Engineering, vol. 12, no. 4, 2018, pp. 454-461.

“Wronia 31, Poland.” BREEAM, 2019.

“Wronia 31.” Ghelamco.

Yong, Han Ahn, et al. “Integrated Construction Process for Green Building.” Procedia Engineering, vol. 145, 2016, pp. 670-676.

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