Green building is a concept that is gaining a momentum in modern society for a very understandable reason: an ever growing number of people and decision-makers realise we need to do everything possible to reduce our carbon print on the planet. Enters Triple Green Building Group, a company that introduces the principles of sustainable construction in its projects.
Established in the USA, Triple Green Building Group provides expertise to design, construction and building operation professionals, governments, corporate entities and NGOs seeking responsible approaches to building and development through sustainable project planning and design, LEED consulting and administration, education and training, BREEAM international assessor services and DGNB international auditor services for projects worldwide.
In 2010 Triple Green Group opened an international branch in Sofia, Bulgaria. Managing Partner Vessela Valtcheva-McGee shares more on the company's philosophy, capacity and memorable projects.
In your work you apply the principle of the triple bottom line. Can you share more with us what is its essence?
The triple bottom line is essentially a philosophy in business – we work to foster economic, environmental and social prosperity and benefit through the projects we consult. Buildings have significant impact on people, the economy and the environment and there are many ways in which a development project can serve to improve these in a positive manner. We believe this gives added value to our customers and it also aligns with our mission to help the construction sector develop sustainably.
When and why a developer would need help from you?
Developers need our services when they want to explore quality control and verification frameworks to improve performance of their projects on one hand, and differentiate the developments with internationally recognised green building benchmarks. This more and more frequently leads developers to a number of green building certification tools available on the market which help design and construction teams ensure that best practices are followed in the development process, and which serve as a third party verification which is internationally recognised as a stamp of quality assurance. These tools include LEED, BREEAM, DGNB and EDGE certification for new and existing buildings.
BPS Building 15
Tell us more about LEED and BREEAM certification. What are the benefits for your clients, to society and to environment?
There are many benefits to building certification which range from overall better building performance, lower utility costs, lower operations and maintenance costs, while maintaining higher rents and resale value over time. All of these are direct benefits to the client, but indirectly they impact people and the environment as well. A certified building does not have to be different than a non-certified building, which has been designed and constructed well. However what differentiates a green building which is certified by LEED, BREEAM, or DGNB, is that the certification process provides specific technical guidance and requirements on issues such as fresh air and ventilation, thermal comfort, visual comfort and the overall quality of the indoor environment. All of this is directly linked to occupant health and productivity. On the other hand, precise evaluations of building materials, their life cycle from extraction of raw materials, to disposal of the finished product, their embodied energy and emissions, promotes a smaller environmental footprint, as well as a healthier building with a longer life span. I can speak about certification for hours, but I will end with the thought that perhaps the greatest benefit to everyone is that green building certification requires developers to measure and verify their impact and the exact performance parameters of their project. This is invaluable when it comes to good asset management and concrete data which serves as both marketing material, as well as reporting data for energy efficiency, corporate social responsibility, and the increasing number of sustainability metrics recognised as national and international targets.
Your company provides professional education – why do you do this and what is its target audience?
Triple Green Building Group was originally founded in the US by a small group of experts with different backgrounds but all very heavily involved with the US Green Building Council and its platform for education and development of the LEED rating system. As LEED gained popularity internationally, we were one of the first companies to be granted authorisation to deliver licensed LEED education to the international market. We saw a successful business model in this as education was typically needed in areas where there was already an interest in LEED and no expertise present.
I have personally had the pleasure of delivering LEED professional credential courses to hundreds of building industry professionals in the region everywhere from Russia, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, the UK, France, Romania, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and most recently Ukraine. We have a solid client base in Russia from the years of trainings we have done there – many building professionals come to get the credential and explore working in this area, or because they work for international organisations which require it. But many developers also come to trainings to hear about the system and determine if it is feasible for their project. In many cases, with a lack of proven experts in the area, they end up turning to us for the service. So education is important both to grow the market and spread the knowledge, but also to stay current with the subject matter and connected with the administrators of the respective rating tool.
Park Lane Srebarna Office Center
Which of your Bulgarian projects has a special meaning for you and why?
We have been very fortunate to have so many interesting projects in Bulgaria and I am grateful to our clients who have given us the benefit of the doubt and gone down the thorny path of certification with us. In a sense they all have special meaning because each one is so different. From Capital Fort – still the tallest building in the country, to Vittorio Positano Business Center – an architectural heritage monument building, to the Anglo-American College of Sofia – one of the first international American education outposts, or Expo 2000 Business Center which has the first LEED Platinum building in Sofia, everything is a challenge of its own and quite interesting. My most meaningful project however will have to remain Muzeiko – America for Bulgaria Children's Museum. The project itself was one of a kind. We did much conceptual work with the whole team to ensure that sustainability was at the core of everything designed and constructed. Health and wellbeing was truly taken to heart as the end users are children, as was the educational component of imparting a love for nature and the environment. In the process both my daughter and I made some very dear friends. There is nothing like the feeling of going there with my excited child, confirming every time that I really did work on the building, and seeing her beam with pride.
What is next on the horizon in sustainable development of the building sector? What are the latest trends?
This is a very slow and very dynamic sector at the same time. It is slow because we have been discussing the benefits of green building for over 10 years, we know that green building does not have to cost more, we know how to do it and why it is the better way to go. But still the percentage of green building is small compared to all construction, and the percentage of certified green buildings even less. On the other hand, this is an extremely quickly evolving sector. Building technology and materials are constantly evolving and introducing new generations of products and solutions. Sustainable development is gaining momentum among national and international government priorities. As cities move toward becoming smart and resilient, buildings will play a greater and greater role in this goal and developers will no longer be able to consider their projects as an isolated endeavour.
Sofia, 58 Tsanko Tserkovski St
phone: +359 899 009 339
Vittorio Positano Business Center