Responsible Design. How do we create buildings which are user-friendly in both everyday and extreme circumstances? Experts answer the question.

As a result of experiencing a pandemic, ways of thinking about designing buildings, erecting them and the production of construction materials have changed irrevocably. Responsible building will be grounded in ecological aspects to a greater extent than ever before. Providing users of buildings with comfort on many and varied levels is becoming the main aim of developers and the industry as a whole.

The Polish construction industry has undergone a genuine renaissance over the past fifteen or so years. The buildings which have emerged during that time represent the highest of standards and yield in nothing to our Western neighbours. Foreign architects and companies are drawing on our country’s developments with increasing frequency, readily making use of materials produced by Polish manufacturers and praising our innovative technological thinking. However, the unprecedented experience of the pandemic has demonstrated that our efforts thus far have not been enough. Developers and the sector alike have come to understand that, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the foundation of contemporary building is ecology combined with user needs and far-reaching informatisation.

Piotr Jasiński is the director of the architectural design department at Cavatina Holding S.A., which is responsible for the design of two new office buildings on the map of the city of Wrocław, the Carbon Tower and the Diamentum Office. He emphasises that:

Newly constructed buildings are going to be smarter and more ecological. As a society, we have come to understand that the potential for hazards emerging from the environment is a real one. So ecological aspects have become of particular importance in the design process and this will be evinced in heightened standards conditioning the market and through regulations. The experience of distance working has taught us something very important, namely, that we aren’t ready for working on a full-time contract from home and that we won’t be for the next few years. In addition, there’s a growing awareness of the usefulness and potential of ICT systems, which are set to improve and develop even further. That could become an inspiration for creating multifunctional, multimedia spaces in buildings. Globalisation will be a natural direction of change. Experiencing the pandemic has shown that we can only save our planet if we unite. Working together on a global scale brings us success and delivers real benefits.

One goal is user comfort

Ecological building is associated first and foremost with environmental protection. Not infrequently, the aspect of comfort, which is bound up with it, is passed over. This faulty perception is shifting as a result of what society has experienced during the lockdown. Matters which have now become even more important to users are already part and parcel of energy-saving buildings.

Bożena Ryszka, Marketing and PR Director for aluminium architectural systems manufacturer ALUPROF S.A., puts it like this:

We spend about ninety per cent of our time inside buildings. So when buildings are being designed and the construction materials are being chosen, it’s essential to give thought to how the interior affects us. Energy-saving and passive buildings have to meet a range of set criteria. They include a high-quality interior environment guaranteed by the provision of acoustic comfort, warmth, access to daylight, excellent ventilation and a low level of air pollution. As a manufacturer of aluminium architectural systems, we are very well informed on all of this and we’ve been creating technologically advanced products for years now. ALUPROF’s products meet developers’ expectations... when they’re not way ahead of them, that is! As a result, we’re the company of choice for key developments in Poland and around the world. We’re trailblazers in terms of introducing innovative, cutting-edge, ecological solutions and acting as an inspiration to our sector.

The experience gained by Polish producers in recent years is paying off as new construction industry standards are drawn up. Companies like ALUPROF are able both to adapt to current conditions much more quickly and, working together with architects and contractors, to create the market reality, preparing it for the arrival of new challenges.

Commercial building is the precursor of good practice.

Buildings are classified in terms of their impact on people and the environment by way of a system of multi-criteria certificates; BREEAM, DGNB, HQE, LEED and WELL. The certificates have been accepted worldwide as an international method for evaluating green buildings. The map of sustainable buildings in Poland is growing rapidly and our country constantly remains the Central and Eastern European leader as far as the number of certificates attained is concerned.

The fifth edition of a report published by the Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC), Certyfikacja Zielonych Budynków w Liczbach 2020 (Certification of Green Buildings in Figures) shows that the floor space of all the buildings certified in Poland from March 2019 to March 2020 rose by an entire three million square metres and now exceeds seventeen million square metres. As Rafał Schurma, President of the PLGBC, summarises:

As regards Polish certification, there is no change in the leader. It’s still the office building sector, with a share of almost sixty-two per cent. At the end of 2019, we had 11.2 million square metres of state-of-the-art office space, with seventy-six per cent requiring certification! That’s a jump of nine per cent on last year. These figures unequivocally demonstrate that even the people who are most sceptical about certification can no longer deny that it’s now the norm in the commercial property sector. What’s more, given the perspective of the lockdown experience during the pandemic, it’s going to be the main direction of growth in both that sector and the industry as a whole.

The evaluation of a building provided in a given certificate is also crucial to the market value of a property. A development holding a certificate or certificates is much more attractive to potential tenants. In the face of the current situation, the market is quick to check those who have not succeeded in adapting to ecological standards.

Flats and houses. Their time has come!

Data from the PLGBC report indicates that the residential sector has increased its share of certified buildings in Poland by more than fifty per cent.

Alicja Kuczera, Managing Director of the PLGBC, points out that:

The growth of certification in the multi-residential dwelling sector is gaining pace and certified designs are on the rise. At the moment, the figures can’t be compared with the office sector, which is in the lead in Poland and all over the world. Nonetheless, the dynamic increase in the number of certified multi-residential buildings prompts the thought that this is going to be an aspect of growing importance in the future.

Our experience of lockdown means that the space we live in has become a matter of particular importance to people. Our flats and houses were our refuge and the place where we relaxed. As they have taken on the functions of an office, not to mention a crèche and/or kindergarten in many cases, so their potential and usefulness has been further verified. New buildings will accomplish those functionalities better and better in order to provide their residents with the best possible living conditions.

Bożena Ryszka, Marketing and PR Director for ALUPROF, highlights the fact that:

Developers will be more and more willing to go for constructing low-energy buildings that guarantee much better living spaces than those built using the traditional method. Our range includes the ALUPROF MB-104 Passive window, which has performed excellently in every building it’s been used in, where saving energy, comfort and respect for the environment really matter. It’s the top-end thermally insulated construction from the ALUPROF portfolio. And it’s worth adding that, thanks to the durability of the profiles, our aluminium systems are resistant, safe and secure.

In the near future, trends in the construction industry will be characterised by a growing awareness of the impact of our environment on us and vice versa. Sustainable building, saving energy and ensuring users’ heath and safety are the most crucial goals for the sector and modern developers.