Yesterday, Oxford Sustainable, a Harjumaa-based real estate developer and adviser, received from BRE (British Research Establishment) the highest ever result for a Breeam or Leed combined office/retail project in the Baltics.
The impressive results arrived for the Origo project, a mixed use development consisting of office and retail space located next to the central Riga train station and the Rail Baltica terminal in the heart of the city.
“The Origo project is our retail and office flagship centre in Riga. After having worked successfully with Oxford Sustainable/ Green Baltics for around 10 years on different projects, we are very pleased to announce another record breaking result, with the highest sustainability (Breeam) score achieved in the Baltics for an office/retail combination centre,”, according to Andis Kublačovs, project director, Linstow.
Hadley Barrett, CEO Oxford Sustainable and Green Baltics added, “Unlike most real estate developers, we have always considered Profit, People and Planet together in our projects. We have been developing and advising this way for over 17 years, long before the topic was popular and important – as it should be. Combined with our experience across various countries, I would say there are now very few people or companies who can compete with our knowledge and success in the sustainable real estate field.”
In contrast to these private-sector achievements, it has been said by many private sector firms that the Estonian government, Standards Institutes, Universities and NGOs are still struggling with the concept of sustainability. In general, they are simply following EU norms with few innovations or circulating subsidy grants to the wrong people or for the wrong topics. Even the law includes little more than a few lines of text and a section on energy efficiency which is simply one small part of sustainability.
One alternative to this view is contested by Piibe Lind from the Estonian Green Building Council, “There is some truth in this, but as a group of private companies under the NGO flag, we have been trying to lead the way in renewable energy and sustainable real estate by exchanging knowledge (internationally), providing experience, expertise, trainings, learning programs and with one export program introducing around €200m of sustainable projects to our Estonian members. We have provided legal texts developed by the leading law firms, fully completed Standards, new innovations and ways of working. Unfortunately there still are too many entrenched powers-that-be satisfied with the status quo and so in the public/research sector many of these initiatives simply hit a brick wall.”
At the same time, the same initiatives developed by GBC Estonia have been shared and willingly taken up by neighbouring Nordic and Baltic countries! Both Latvia and Lithuania are now well ahead of Estonia in sustainability and innovation in the real estate arena.
What lessons can we learn here? Perhaps that Estonia has some great and innovative people and companies, but as a country, we must do much more to support these people, like other countries, if Estonia is to become a champion on the world-stage as it deserve.