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COWI building project takes the lead on sustainable buildings in Lithuania

Photo: Schmidt/hammer/lassen architects and Lund+Slaatto Arkitekter
In the heart of Vilnius, a mixed-use office and retail building is being designed with BREEAM in mind. The goal is a certified sustainable building that can lead the way for more sustainable building projects in the Baltic States.

Sustainability is yet in the making in Lithuania. But the owner of a new office building in Vilnius is set on creating a building that distinguishes itself with regard to certified sustainability.

"Our goal is that the sustainability benefits of this project are beyond most other building projects in the Baltic States. This could set a new precedent by which other buildings will be judged," says Kjetil Hanssen, the Director of Schage Real Estate.

The 50,000 square metre building with office accommodation for large companies as well as shops, restaurants and cafés might become the first building in Lithuania and the Baltic States to be certified under BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method).

Certified sustainability is good for business

Experience from other countries shows that certified sustainable buildings have higher rental prices and are easier to rent than similar conventional buildings.

Many leaseholders expect or even demand a certified sustainable building for their offices.

"With a certificate such as the BREEAM certificate in hand, it is a lot easier for us to document and communicate how sustainable the building is, and that an ambitious goal setting has been achieved, " explains Kjetil Hanssen.

The goal is to reach the BREEAM score "very good", which is an over average score on the BREEAM scale.

Biodiversity and ground water heating and cooling

COWI is conducting the certification process, and according to Morten Buus, COWI's BREEAM assessor, the fact that BREEAM has been part of the project since the early stages, makes it a lot easier to advice the client on how to accomplish the goals they have set for sustainability.

"A building with a one-sided focus on energy and insulation will not become certified. We have to incorporate a wide range of environmental features in the project. And this can only be achieved when BREEAM is part of the project right from the start."

Groundwater heating and cooling technology to minimize the carbon emissions is one of the features that will give the building points in the BREEAM assessment. Another is a green roof that can absorb CO2 and rainwater and create a habitat for insects and birds.

By Helen Marie Bennett, hmbe@cowi.dk 


BREEAM is an international standard for environmental classification which is used to assess a building's environmental impact.

BREEAM assesses the environmental aspects of construction and operation, health and welfare, energy, transportation, water, materials and waste, land use and biodiversity.

COWI is one of the few companies in Scandinavia offering BREEAM and LEED certification, which is another international classification tool for sustainability.

LAST UPDATED: 07.10.2017