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"Electric-friendly office buildings gain valuable points for certification"

18 October 2018

Environmental protection issues, also in Poland, are becoming more and more important. Care for nature begins to be fashionable in Poland, also, and perhaps above all in the business sphere of life. This also applies to motoring and architecture. These sectors, and especially the technological solutions used in them, are analyzed in terms of energy efficiency, ecological raw materials and sustainable resource policy.

Regardless of what we call "green philosophy", whether it is the creation of a sustainable business model, the development of clean transport, or rational waste management and environmental impact - this is a trend that is also approaching Poland for a long time. Many companies have already established their own internal goals, but independent standards have also been created to verify how companies achieve their goals in the field of sustainability. Independent standards offer a unified way of measuring progress and play an important role in helping ecologically informed consumers decide where and how to invest.
The fact that transport affects the daily lives of people we know for a long time. What is interesting, however, is how quickly the solutions applied in modern ecological motorization (eg energy recovery) are found in other areas, eg in architecture. These factors permeate, complement each other, creating the seeds of a new urban ecosystem. No wonder that currently designed buildings (especially office buildings and public facilities) strive to be friendly people, which translates into the quality of the interior environment. After all, we spend about 90% of our lives in buildings.

Healthy buildings
The level of "friendliness" of buildings is measured by various standards. The most prestigious certificates are:

  • American LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
  • British BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method
  • German DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen).


The American LEED is one of the most popular in Poland. It is a certification program that organizes commercial buildings based on their energy efficiency. The standard was developed by USGBC (the American Council for Ecological Construction). Both existing buildings, newly built as well as individual rental areas can be subject to certification. During the certification process various factors are taken into account, among others: location and type of terrain, energy consumption, water efficiency, reduction of CO2 emissions, indoor quality of rooms, type of materials used, innovativeness and management of natural resources. Each of these elements is divided into point categories, and for the sum of assessments, the project receives the LEED certificate at one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Low-emission motorization, and a green building

It would seem, therefore, that the construction of charging station infrastructure should positively affect the result of certification. The first versions of standards, however, treated electric car chargers like other electric energy receivers - so valuable in the certification process. In the case of an improper approach, it could be considered as a burden for the EUI index (energy intensity, calculated as kWh per square meter, divided into a year), and the addition of stations will increase total electricity consumption, which can illusively lead to a reduction in certification.
Only the fourth version of LEED clearly defines the impact of charging stations for electric cars installed in buildings on the level of certification. Additional points are granted for the provision of parking spaces, which should already encourage designers and tenants to "invest" in employees who are driving electric cars or hybrids with a plug. One of the key factors driving the demand for electric vehicles is the possibility of charging them at the workplace. Even in Poland, facilities where electric vehicle charging devices are installed have a much higher interest from users than those lacking them.
Another attempt to balance the assessment of the energy intensity factor with the popularisation of electric transport is to replace the "transport efficiency" score for "alternative transport speed." In the latest LEED version "O + M" mentioned above, this factor is based, among other things, on the percentage reduction "of conventional "(internal combustion) commuting and the number of people in the car.The overall result is measured by the CO2 emissions per passenger of the vehicle.Therefore, the CO2 emissions for each electric car is 0, and in the case of hybrid cars with a plug is 2-3 times lower than in the case of diesel counterparts.
Charging stations in commercial buildings are not only an additional punt for building certification programs. It is also a competitive advantage. More and more enterprises operating in Poland decide to use electric cars as fleet vehicles. Among them are postal operators and courier companies, telecommunications companies and diplomatic missions. Shared infrastructure for charging electric cars is becoming indispensable for everyday operations of companies and efficient operation of electric transport. On the other hand, in Poland, nowhere else in the world, company fleets are becoming the driving force behind the development of electromobility. It is in companies that drivers can touch electric cars on their own skin and personally verify the facts and myths associated with their daily use - in particular in terms of the availability of charging points and coverage sufficiency in the context of daily operation of electricians.
The fleet of electric cars is also a very mobile energy bank. Thanks to the V2G (vehicle - to - grid) technology, it is possible to transfer power stored in car batteries to the grid. Usually this is used to balance power or even provide system operators such as frequency control services for grid operators. The fleet of electric cars connected to chargers acts like a huge decentralized energy warehouse, an order of magnitude cheaper than large industrial warehouses, and able to receive or donate energy in seconds. It should be expected that such solutions will also affect additional points in subsequent versions of certification.
Importantly, the connection of electric car chargers to building energy systems can quickly increase the network of public charging points in Poland, giving a new impetus to the electromobility program. One of the key barriers to the development of charging infrastructure in places where there
is the greatest demand for it - that is, on the routes between residential districts and concentration centers of office buildings - are the technical limitations of the power grid. The network operator has the right to refuse to connect a new stand-alone charger in locations where it could jeopardize network stability. In the case of connection of chargers to commercial buildings, there is no need to apply for additional connection capacity, if the buildings have adequate reserve.
The active participation of office buildings in the development of the electromobility market brings benefits to all market participants. Entrepreneurs interested in the development of ecological transport gain access to easy loading of fleets at office buildings. Charging stations appear in optimal locations from the point of view of demand for the service - without the costs and formalities related to the request for connection power. Building owners and managers benefit from the increase in the attractiveness of buildings for tenants and, in turn, from the increase in the value of real estate. As the number of electric cars on Polish roads increases, it will also be possible to divide revenues from commercial use of chargers on office buildings - whether from the provision of services for power grid operators or directly from the charging of guest cars.

Michał Baranowski, Bartosz Kwiatkowski



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