Interview with GPP Business Park President

The GPP Business Park complex can be safely described as the most environmentally friendly office space in Poland. What was the origin of this project?

Mirosław Czarnik, President of the Management Board of GPP Business Park: First of all, the GPP Business Park is, in its origins, the seed of a bold vision that has found its way onto fertile ground. What I primarily have in mind here is the involvement of contractors, who have been with us since the beginning of the project, scientific circles and local authorities. Only in such a model could this pioneering concept be successfully implemented.

From the very outset, we assumed the application of solutions that would rationalize energy management, ensure work comfort unattainable by the competition, and would be cost-effective in the long run.

What makes up this unique secret of high energy efficiency of the complex?

We have based the whole concept on several key elements. We use trigeneration and gas boilers as sources of heat. The absorption unit, which is a part of the trigeneration system, compressor unit and free coolers are responsible for the production of cold. All this is supported by numerous advanced solutions, such as air handling units, adiabatic humidifiers, VAV controllers cooperating with induction beam system, facades with automatic external blinds or lighting cooperating with a weather station. In all facilities there are elevators equipped with an energy recovery system, which also works during an upward journey when the cabin is empty. We recover and utilize rainwater, and all users of the complex can use charging stations for electric vehicles or changing rooms and showers for cyclists and parking lots for bicycles.

A responsible and innovative approach to all areas of the complex’s operation and, what is equally important, the comfort of its users, allows us to present the facility as exceptional not only on a national, but also on a continental scale.

All these assumptions have been implemented, which is best evidenced by the highest rating in the international BREEAM certificate in Poland.

The “Outstanding” rating – received by our first Goeppert-Mayer office building – is the highest available in the BREEAM system and difficult to achieve due to the need to implement non-standard requirements in almost all of the 10 categories assessed. We were the only company in the country to exceed 85% of BRE’s scoring scale.

However, when thinking about the achieved goals, one should not forget about the “human dimension” of this success. Our complex offers much better working conditions than the market average. The air exchange rate of 35 m3 per hour, per person and the controlled humidity level of 40 – 60% allow for not only a more efficient worker, but also a healthier person. One can say that in the context of the time we spend at work, we provide for our users an oasis of clean air, so different from that outside…

What guidelines do you have for investors who plan to implement an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient project?

Let me start with a general remark. Creating such a space for office environment or, more broadly, for public utility ceases to be an investor’s “whim” only. In two years’ time, further tightening of standards related to energy efficiency of buildings makes it a question of “to be or not to be” for such investment projects. There is little time, so there is no room for experimentation in achieving the objectives. It is therefore worth taking advantage of our more than 10 years of experience.

Certification rating benchmarks, such as for instance BREEAM, can also be very helpful when treated as a set of guidelines. However, it is crucial that they are taken into account as early as possible, optimally at the Functional and Utility Planning stage.

Our solutions meet with the interest of the market; in recent years we have hosted several hundred study visits, practically from all over the world.

Exactly, one can say that – starting with this ambitious project nearly a decade ago – you had the opportunity to develop the assumed solutions in each and every of the four office buildings. Can we say that each subsequent one was closer to perfection?

Of course, although this may sound somewhat inconceivable, given that already the first one gained such a high rating from an independent certification body. In the case of each subsequent project, we tried to improve the implemented solutions. The best example of this strategy is the Bloch office building, which is currently being prepared for its opening in February next year. The solutions applied in it make it possible to talk about the plus-energy performance of our facility for the first time in history.

What contributed to this success?

We can say that it will be a combination of what we have improved in other buildings with new solutions over the years. The path to success leads through the right choice of energy sources along with a detailed building management concept.

What has additionally been designed for the fourth facility were gas heat pumps and two engines for trigeneration, i.e. the simultaneous production of electricity, heat and cooling, powered by natural gas. Moreover, the energy needed to power auxiliary equipment, such as pumps and fans, will come from photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the office building.

Thanks to the applied solutions, the building is distinguished by a very low annual demand for non-renewable energy. It amounts to only 35% of the needs of a reference building (i.e. meeting current standards) and less than 55% with respect to the rigorous regulations that will enter into force after 2021. 

To sum up, it is worth taking up such challenges because…?

First of all, the GPP Business Park already meets the stringent standards that will be in force in the EU from 2021. Users can count on a much higher comfort of work, which increases the efficiency of employees by 20-40%, and here we must also remember about a much better health condition of people who spend many hours in such an environment. We also make a tangible contribution to the protection of the natural environment. In our case, the annual CO2 emissions are approximately 600 tonnes lower than those of reference buildings. And last but not least, our tenants’ operating costs are about 60% lower than in the case of traditional buildings. All of the above makes the GPP Business Park an attractive and sought-after location for any company seat.

 

***

 

Since 2005, GPP Business Park has been transforming post-industrial areas located in the immediate vicinity of Katowice city centre into a modern zone of economic activity and innovation oriented towards technological development in line with the pro-environmental trend.

The GOEPPERT-MAYER office building, which in 2012 opened the GPP Business Park project, as the first one in Poland received the prestigious, international BREEAM certificate at the “Outstanding” level.