Offices in the Russian capital are getting on the green wagon when it comes to saving cash, conserving energy and making a statement.
While "green" building is revolutionizing architecture globally, Moscow is at long last also seeing major developments in environmentally-friendly design.
A 2.5 million-euro renovation will soon see an 18th-century building in central Moscow turned into a showcase for energy efficiency and green technologies at a new World Wildlife Fund headquarters.
The project, which is partially funded by the French government, seeks to make the WWF building a shining beacon of what the future of green buildings can be in Russia.
“The first problem is the price. Environmentally-friendly construction is more expensive than conventional construction all over the world,” Igor Chestin, head of WWF’s Moscow office, told RT. “We solved this problem by inviting partners. For the time being, we have about 14 commercial companies which support the project in one way or another.”
Although energy efficiency has been officially supported by the Russian president, it is still a long way from being put into wide practice, admits the WWF official.
“We hope that our project will set an example,” Chestin added. “It will also show what the bureaucratic obstacles are for companies that want to apply environmentally-friendly technologies while renovating and constructing their office.”
Greenpeace Russia has been at it for some time with its Green Office Project, tutoring companies and organizations about cost-cutting energy-saving measures.
“First of all, Russia is at the very beginning of this process – greening its lifestyle and behavior,” Vladimir Churpov, from Greenpeace Russia, told RT. “Unfortunately, the green ideas and green lifestyle are not very popular among ordinary people, nor among companies. We have a very good example of the World Bank in Moscow, which in six months decreased by 15 percent the power consumption in their offices, due only to behavior changes by the staff. Fifteen percent – that’s a lot.”
Such changes offer companies both an image advantage and energy-saving profit.
“I think that many people see the need for ‘green’ measures and many have done a lot of useful things,” Lilia Boiko, from the Danone company, told RT. “But as for Russian society in general, everything – from sorting out waste to installing automated lighting systems – will take some time for society in general to realize the need for this.”
The World Wildlife Fund’s new three-story building will cover a total area of 1,200 square meters. Project managers for the new venture say that expats are especially sensitive to working in green spaces.
“Before the crisis, it was very difficult to find people to work for companies,” Sara da Costo Lopes, general director of Proma Estate, told RT. “You had to give good salaries but not only, so one of the ways to attract them is to have an environment and an office which is friendly so that people say, ‘This is where I want to be.’ Because at a certain point, salary is not enough.”
Greenpeace says there are two sides to this coin: technical and behavioral. Offices put in energy-efficient equipment and even institute recycling, but if the workers do not respond, it is not going to save anyone any money.
“To blame yourself, to say to yourself that what you are doing is wrong – this is the most important hurdle,” Vladimir Churpov, from Greenpeace Russia, told RT. “That’s why we use evolution methods; we educate people, we spread information convincing them that this is economically profitable. That’s our way. Of course, we also need state policy forcing people to do it the right way.”
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