Viru Keskus still the most sustainable shopping centre in the Baltics
In November, Viru Keskus was recognised by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building certification programme, and was awarded the Platinum certificate, their highest-level rating for environmental sustainability. Viru Keskus is the only shopping centre in the Baltics that has received such high recognition in the areas of energy efficiency, recycling, sustainable resource use and management.
According to Gertti Kogermann, CEO of Viru Keskus, the recently renovated shopping centre offers its visitors the best indoor environment and the cleanest air in the heart of the city, delivering these benefits in the most cost-effective manner in the context of the looming energy crisis. “Thanks to smart solutions, our tenants enjoy nearly 50% lower utility costs compared to other commercial premises in the Baltics. These utility bills reflect our long-term commitment to and consistent focus on sustainability and efficiency. Our main message is that sustainable management is a win for everyone,’ explained Kogermann.
According to Liis Astover, the LEED certification specialist at AS Forus, the certification focuses on the assessment of two types of buildings – new and existing ones. “For new buildings, the certificate and the accompanying quality label are issued for an indefinite term, whereas existing buildings must undergo
re-certification every three years. Ensuring compliance with LEED standards has become relatively common when designing new buildings. However, it is quite uncommon for existing buildings to maintain such high levels of compliance. Viru Keskus, having been in operation for more than 20 years, is a great example of maintaining these high standards by focusing on continued investments in sustainability.”
Viru Keskus was awarded the highest points in the area of energy. The building’s energy efficiency is ensured by AI software R8 Jenny, custom developed by the Estonian company R8 Technologies. The AI solution monitors the interaction of the building’s main utility systems via 40,000 sensors, and responds to such factors as indoor and outdoor temperature, fluctuations in electricity prices, indoor carbon concentration, visitability rates, etc. On average, this AI-based system helps to save a quarter of the shopping centre’s energy costs.
In 2021, Viru Keskus launched a major overhaul project, which is scheduled to end in 2023. In the course of this process, the centre has upgraded a number of critical infrastructures, invested in more energy efficient technologies, and recovered a number of materials, e.g. reusing old marble tiles for the new atrium floor.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, is a voluntary environmental certification system developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council in 1998. LEED focuses on the environmental impact of buildings and their compliance with sustainability parameters, such as resource use, innovation, logistics and the quality of their indoor environment. Viru Keskus was first recognised by LEED in 2015 with a Silver certificate in the area of Building Operations and Maintenance (O & M), followed by the first Platinum certificate awarded to a building in Estonia in 2019. This is a significant recognition because the assessment is based on actual consumption data and compared to other similar buildings. Subsequent re-certification has focused on the environmental impact related to the transport used by visitors, as well as the building’s water and energy use, waste management, and indoor air quality (i.e. concentration of CO2 and volatile organic compounds).