Interview by Kay Killmann, Managing Director of GBCI Europe

to Symela Touchtidou

LEED has a long history in Greece. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center was the first project in the country to register with the system in 2008 while the 60,000m2 Karela Office Park in Paiania was the first to certify, achieving Gold status in 2013`

Currently, over 110 projects in Greece have registered with LEED, 47 have certified and eight have achieved Platinum status – the highest level of certification in the system. 49% of LEED certifications in Greece have been pursued in the past two years, illustrating the market’s interest in ESG and sustainability.

The Karela Office Park, a 5,670m2 office complex, with a green roof garden, using high technology materials and an innovative moving shading system on all building elevations to control outdoor lighting

We interviewed Kay Killmann, Managing Director of GBCI Europe (Green Business Certification Inc.), the organization that provides  third-party verification services for LEED certification and credentialing and asked him whether getting a LEED Certification is a “value for money” project.

“Building green doesn’t always increase the costs of construction and is almost always lower in cost to address in new construction rather than later as retrofits and renovations,” Killmann notes. “Additionally, studies have shown that in the long run building green helps building owners save on operating costs and increase asset value. In the most recent World Green Building Trends report, the mean for overall savings for the first 12 months of operation is 10.5% and 16.9% for the first five years. The LEED certification fee is based on a project’s rating system and its size.”

Greece has a large stock of very old buildings. Are they worth upgrading? Or is it better to have them demolished and replaced by new ones?

“It can take up to 80 years to make up for the impacts of demolishing an existing building and constructing a new one, even if the resulting building is extremely energy efficient. However, many older buildings around the world are also inefficient and resource-depleting. In fact, buildings account for nearly one-third of all energy consumption and are huge carbon emitters. With keen attention to building operations, older spaces can be turned around. LEED offers a rating system for existing buildings –LEED for Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M)– which offers operations strategies that meet standards can help improve building performance. By focusing on both performance oriented sustainable strategies and outcomes, LEED helps build high performing buildings. Every building can do better and LEED is a key driver in creating better existing building performance” Killmann says.

“The Orbit” office building received LEED Platinum status in October, 2020

Athens real estate boom

“The vast majority of the LEED projects are in Athens, which is aligned with the fact that the most prominent real estate investments are developed in the Athens metropolitan area” Killmann notes. “This situation reflects a new booming era for Athens real estate after a decade of deep recession, during which LEED was established as a baseline for all new prominent projects wishing to achieve sustainability excellence. Besides Athens, the first projects in Thessaloniki have recently appeared, following a new development era for the second largest city of Greece.”

LEED Explained

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is the most well-known green building certification system in the US and in many other parts of the world. Buildings that are LEED-certified have been designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy efficiency, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reductions, improved indoor air quality and resource stewardship.

Green Business Certification Inc. GBCI provides third-party verification services for LEED certification. GBCI Europe was established in Munich in 2017 to serve teams throughout the continent pursuing LEED certification. Kay Killmann is Managing Director of GBCI Europe, focusing on promoting LEED and its successful integration into European’s real estate industry.

This article is published in the March/ April issue of Greek Business File,  part of the cover story on the top construction industry trend of building green. The cover story presents the history of green buildings in Greece, the pioneers and market leaders. It also looks into the huge gap between the capital and the rest of the country. The March/ April issue of Greek Business File is available here.