Skanska is a multinational construction and development company founded in Sweden and employing over 38,000 around the world. They have been on the Polish office market as a developer for two decades and recently piloted perovskite solar panels on one of their office buildings in Warsaw, as part of a general focus on green, energy efficient buildings.
Your work all over Europe and North America – what makes Poland an appealing growth jurisdiction for Skanska?
Our interest stemmed from the amazing market opportunity initially in the construction, and then in the development sector. There are also the obvious reasons such as the Polish unyielding GDP growth rate, the strategic position at the heart of Europe and being a EU member state.
Currently we are holding steady in all three areas, residential, commercial and construction, though the latter is facing various challenges such as growing competition, limited availability of construction materials and workforce shortages.
You are not alone in signaling issues surrounding labor, we have heard similar concerns from industrial, technology and renewable companies – how are you addressing it?
We are leaders in health and safety, and creating a safe work place is crucial for the construction sector. Secondly, we really do not compromise on ethics and we always pay on time, according to agreements. Ultimately this is a general challenge of our times and we must all ride out the storm together.
Turning our attention to sustainability, could you tell us more about the green buildings you have been developing, starting with what it is that makes a building green?
A green building in our definition is one that is resource efficient, translating mostly into energy efficient. Over the past decade we have been implementing a wide range of solutions, equipment and design tweaks and at this point we mastered the process.
Our solutions are human centric and we are prioritizing those elements that play a vital role for human health and wellbeing. Likewise green buildings minimize the resources they use, making them more sustainable and trying to employ renewable energy source wherever possible.
One of such RES solutions are the innovative solar panels being developed right here in Poland – how do they work and what sets them apart?
Two years ago we started collaborating with Saule Technologies on their solar perovskite technology that we believe will revolutionize the RES in Poland and worldwide.
So far office buildings have not really been able to implement renewables onsite, so we have been testing different options. One issue was the small size of rooftops, and the unique trait of perovskite panels is that they can absorb lateral light as well, and as a result can be positioned on building facades as well. We have one façade module here in Warsaw and it has been working well. This means that offices, even those in crowded city centers, can now rely on renewable energy as a majority power source.
Sustainable practices often come at a cost, and you are also running a business – how are you managing the financial side of things and what maintains your personal drive for greener ways in spite of it?
First of all, I see no other way. A few years ago we stood out, with our talking about energy efficiency and such, after all this is not our core business. But today everyone is aware of the consequences of climate change, and interested in making a difference, at least for the sake of breathing cleaner air.
As for the cost, sure it can be pricier, but this is precisely why we are always trying to innovate and perhaps in the near future we can make sustainable buildings both more effective and lower cost than regular ones.
On the topic of cleaner air we noticed you have been involved in a project that installed smog absorbing concrete, how has this been progressing?
We started with one of Warsaw’s most congested roundabouts. The Mayor of Warsaw also showed interest in this solution and after our pilot project installed it in 10 locations in the city this past summer. We are in similar discussions in Krakow, Gdansk and several others.
Congested city areas often suffer from smog and Poland is sadly no exception. The smog absorbent photocatalytic concrete mitigates this problem by significantly reducing the amount of nitrogen oxides in the air, on average by 30%.
What are you priorities for the upcoming years, and message to the Polish and international community?
Skanska pledged to be carbon neutral by 2045, value chain included. We are systemizing our local efforts with this goal in mind. We also plan to continue our work with perovskites which we can install on a big scale as of 2022, and we believe there is great potential to produce energy in our buildings. Cooperation is also key and our message to the industry is “let’s do this together!”
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