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Green buildings and the start of something big in Bulgaria

By Laura Croze
November 27, 2017

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The number of certified green buildings in Bulgaria may be small but the impact of Knauf Insulation’s collaboration with the country’s specifiers is considerable.

From negligible numbers of green buildings five years ago there are now 54 — with Knauf Insulation solutions installed in 18 of the 32 that are LEED-certified, 9 of the 17 that have BREEAM certificates and 2 of the five that are DGNB-certified.

“The green building revolution in Bulgaria has only just begun, — mostly office buildings, trade and logistic centres and retail stores — but the potential is huge,” says Knauf Insulation’s technical advisor in Bulgaria, architect Tsvetelena Mladenova.

“Driving this demand are architects who want more sustainable, healthier buildings and more ambitious ecologically-focused projects and owners who want to achieve higher levels of certification because they need to maximise their business potential. Now, in Bulgaria, if one owner achieves gold certification, another has to increase the stakes and have platinum,” says Tsvetelena.

Bulgaria’s green-build ambition is epitomised by major developments such as the BREEAM-certified Capital Fort business centre, the highest building in the capital of Sofia at 126 metres with 80,000m2 of floor space; LIDL Mladost Sofia, Bulgaria’s first BREEAM Outstanding retail building; the 35,000m2 Serdika Shopping Center, certified DGNB Platinum; the new 210,000m2 Sofia Airport Center, the country’s first LEED Gold-certified office development and phase four of the Office Building Expo 2000 which has achieved LEED Platinum. Plans are also in the pipeline to create a BREEAM communities -certified 250,000m2 complex of office and residential space in a huge landscaped setting known as Garigate Park.

“At Knauf Insulation we are playing a major role in developments by providing specifiers and architects throughout Bulgaria with technical information about their building product choices as well as supporting documentation from Environmental Product Declarations and easily downloadable factsheets on how to achieve points in Green Building Rating Systems,” says Tsvetelena.

The architect is part of Knauf International’s international network of experts set up to help specifiers maximise the points potential of Green Building Rating Systems.

This team — showcased in our new sustainability report available here — speaks the language of BREEAM, LEED, DGNB, WELL and HQE fluently and has contributed to projects worldwide that range from the first hospital in The Netherlands to achieve BREEAM excellent certification to the tallest Passivhaus building in the world, the 88-metre Bolueta Tower in Spain.

Demand is high for such expert support. There are now more than two billion square metres certified in the world by the ‘big five’ GBRS and each system has evolved beyond traditional ‘green’ concepts of 15 years ago. The industry is now being shaped by a greater focus on well-being, building lifecycles and the performance of solutions. For such issues, Knauf Insulation’s expertise is invaluable.

This technical support is also greatly appreciated in Bulgaria. Sofia’s 126 metre-high Capital Fort business centre was voted the Best Commercial High-Rise Architecture at the European Property Awards 2017 and features Knauf Insulation products in the façade, partition walls, suspended ceilings and underground garages.

The architect Angel Zahariev from A&A Architects, the creative force behind the centre, says easily accessible expertise such as that offered by Knauf Insulation is vital to the industry. “Certainly, information and advice from manufacturers of construction products and systems is very useful in the design and certification process. It is also important that this information is easily available so it can be used effectively.

“We also found the Knauf Academy a very good platform for the exchange of information, knowledge and experience. Improving the knowledge and qualifications of designers is a continuous process and the Knauf Academy is one of the most convenient platforms for this.”

Architect Zahariev has seen demand for better buildings with an emphasis on certification grow considerably in Bulgaria with both investors and architects becoming increasingly aware of GBRS benefits from a financial perspective as well as the contribution they can make to a more sustainable future.

“We are confident the number of certified buildings in the country will continue grow as concerns about the environment increase. But this growth is also being driven by the rapid pace at which more products related to certification are being offered and the increasing number of end-user companies who are required to use certified buildings.

“However, perhaps the biggest driver of all is the fact that it’s not much more expensive to build a green sustainable building as it is to build one that has no green credentials.”


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