What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in the growing green building market?
Green buildings are a global tendency open to everyone working on the built environment. Each building/project has its own specifications which need to be addressed and green practices can be implemented along the whole life cycle.
Firstly, I would suggest focusing on your area of expertise to be familiar with green issues and look for the best approach that suits your interests. There is plenty of information to improve your skills, but try gathering the information from different sources for an independent point of view, and keep an eye on the international market. The opportunities are there and the potential is enormous.
Many individuals assume that a green project is going to cost more money, have you found this to be the case, or would you say that this is a false statement?
It depends on the strategies and sustainable features implemented. But generally speaking, a green project could show more positive financial effects than a conventional one taking into account the whole life cycle. Nerveless, it is fairly important to embrace sustainable issues as early as possible on the project plan. You also need to take into account if the board members are appropriately skilled to give advice on the best sustainability features to be incorporated, balancing accurately the financial performance and the environmental issues.
For instance, green buildings are associated with operation and maintenance cost saving, carbon emission reduction, property value growth, productivity improvement and healthier buildings. Additionally there is a growing awareness of the portfolio risks involved in non-efficient property investments and their potential obsolescence. The consequence of this is Investors are progressively valuing the positive contribution of a greener approach when making their decisions.
What are the major differences between the LEED and BREEAM certification system?
Both methodologies are very well-known at international level and leading the market to improve building design. The main difference between the two methods is the process of certification. BREEAM (UK) has trained assessors who evaluate the evidence against the method established credit criteria and report it to the BRE, who validate the assessment and issue the certificate. Also, there are quite a few national operators accredited by BREEAM to issue certificates at country level based on local adaptation of the BREEAM scheme.
LEED (USA) is based on a more open approach and specific training is not required to start with, although a point is available when an Accredited Professional (LEED AP) is on board. However, lots of evidence has to be gathered and submitted to the USGBC which does an exhaustive verification and issues the certificate all over the world.
How would you describe the future tendencies in Spain affecting commercial real estate? What are the expectations?
These days green buildings are increasingly seen as a business opportunity. There is a special interest for renovation projects and Asset/Facility Management as companies try to increase the value of their existing stock, upgrade buildings with new technologies, cut operating costs, rise indoor quality of buildings for occupants / tenants or improve their assets located in Spain to meet corporate sustainability policies.
On the other hand, by the year 2020 all new buildings around Europe will have to prove they are nearly zero-energy buildings. To reach these goals significant changes to current practices need to be made on the built environment, and more restrictive regulations will be implemented over the next decade to help improve the building´s energy efficiency as well as enhance indoor quality.
Do you see big differences between country and country, Eastern Europe and Western Europe in the Going green process?
The “going green” process shows major differences among countries, and it looks as if they are moving in several divisions of performance. Markets such as The UK or Germany are very mature and the green buildings practices are very established at a local level. Mediterranean countries are a few steps behind and the economic stage is not too encouraging although the sustainable issues are becoming more prominent. Not too familiar with Eastern European countries, but the feeling is that the sector is growing quickly. Especially for international developers that start to do business there as well as the emerging local Green Building Councils.