Skanska is a leading global real estate developer and construction group established in 1887 in Sweden. They have been present on the Romanian market since 2011 and put their mark on several sustainable office projects, such as Green Court Bucharest, Equilibrium or Campus 6.
What is Skanska's footprint on the local real estate market and how does Romania fare in the wider portfolio of the company?
Skanska first entered the Romanian market in 2011, but a task force has been present here since 2008 in order to evaluate the business environment. Romania is part of Skanska Commercial Development Europe (CDE), together with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. CDE managed to deliver the biggest surface per square meters built, three years in a row, and Romania has a substantial contribution since developments in our country are extremely streamlined (more than in the other three countries of the division). Local workforce is extremely attractive for our clients, especially in IT, shared service centers and BPO, thanks to the high level of education. The market is maturing at a fast and steady pace and progress is visible in the health & safety area, as well as regarding overall product quality.
A promising evolution, then - what are some of the most interesting projects you're developing at the moment, in Romania?
We started the second phase for Equilibrium in February 2021, with an estimated date of delivery in Q1 of 2023. Also, we have finished the second phase of Campus 6, meaning Campus 6.2 & Campus 6.3 that were built together, and we will continue our investment with the last phase of Campus 6. Even during the pandemic, we managed to keep the building site going, with all its approx 500 blue collars. It was a huge effort to accomplish this task from a health & safety perspective, but we managed to deliver the project as promised, thus following Skanska's embedded values.
How did the pandemic influence your office business - were there some special measures you took in order to mitigate risks?
The pandemic brought to light how important it is to work outside of our homes from a mental health point of view, but also from a community and socializing one. The offices of the future will have a strong accent on wellbeing, safety and human connection through larger common spaces, leisure rooms and top-notch facilities. The buildings are designed in such a manner that natural daylight is provided in over 85% of all regularly frequented areas.
During the pandemic we introduced the Care for Life Office Concept that included: touch free building access, air filtration system, as well as consultation (in partnership with virologists) for our tenants regarding safety in the office. As a result, our buildings are the first in Romania to be certified by the WELL Building Institute with WELL Health & Safety Rating.
The real estate industry is often perceived as conservative, how open is Skanska to novelty, particularly in the digital arena?
The short answer is very open, which is our standing attitude that proved particularly helpful during the pandemic, when communication with tenants and overall became more challenging.
What we've been implementing is a user-friendly 3D platform that was developed together with Bright Spaces. Face to face meetings are still happening, but this platform facilitates access to information in real time. Climate Target is a tool that helps us monitor our projects' progression in relationship with the carbon footprint. Connected by Skanska is a proprietary app that allows building access through smartphones, as well as parking management and food orders from the canteen.
Innovation regarding sustainability is our most ardent priority at the moment, with an accent on reducing carbon emissions and heightened attention to the way our projects influence the communities where we operate.
Sustainability is a central concern of many real estate companies - how do you integrate this idea into your projects?
Skanska's target is to totally eliminate its carbon emissions by 2045, and to achieve this we try to recycle building materials, rain water is recirculated, Equilibrium 1 uses 100% energy from renewable energy sources, etc. The green spaces around our office buildings are open to neighboring residents, there are charging stations for electric scooters and cars and Campus 6 will have the first 280m-long rooftop running track in Romania.
What are some of the other main objectives you're pursuing with priority in the next two-three years?
Our main goal is to be a user-friendly office developer, while keeping an eye open for opportunities that might arise in other sectors of the real estate market. All the projects we develop are intended to be sold to investors in order to help market liquidity. The fact that more and more local investors emerge is extremely reassuring because in this way we are not as exposed to international players who are extremely sensitive to political or economic changes.
Do you have a final message about the real estate market in Romania?
Romania has an immense economic potential and the real estate market is visibly growing year after year, with the workforce being well educated and ready to take serious roles inside international companies. Contrary to general perception, business here can be conducted in a transparent and ethical way, as is increasingly the case.
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