Awarded with LEED Platinum Certification, GORA (Green Office and Residential Area) is one of the greenest high-tech building complexes in Sofia which is fully future oriented. The complex consists of an office and a residential part and provides its occupants with a healthy and comfortable environment.
The project has been completed in less than two years by the end of 2020, despite the negative impact of the pandemic. Today 100% of the office areas are filled with tenants.
What has made GORA a successful investment project, what technologies have been integrated in the complex and what added value does the building give to its investors and occupants?
Siemens Bulgaria Blog visits GORA Business Center to seek answers to these questions. We are discussing the advantages of the green complex with:
* Bogomil Nikolov, Managing Partner, GORA
* Arch. Tsvetan Petrov, Managing Partner, Ivo Petrov – Architects ЕOOD – designer of the complex and tenant in GORA Business Center
* Bilyana Popova, Security and Automation Director, Telelink Infra Services EAD – partner for planning and implementation of Building Management Solutions by Siemens in GORA
* Ivan Rachkov, Electric Designer, El Smart OOD – partner for implementation of fire detection and access control systems in GORA complex and tenant in GORA Business Center
- Mr. Nikolov, would you please tell us more about GORA project from the position of investor in the building? Please, elaborate on the history and the mission of the complex.
B.N. GORA is a long-thought project of a building which was intended to serve its occupants – both its office and residential part. The purpose of the office building was to be as high-tech and comfortable for its occupants as possible, the same was valid for the residential part. We collaborated with Ivo Petrov – Architects for the design and planning processes which took us a year. The size of the terrain enabled us to give a free reign to our imagination. GORA Business Center was an emotional project to me. It was important to build a business center which corresponds to its name - Green Office and Residential Area, but also to offer a high-quality product.
- What were your main objectives during the planning phase?
B.N. Our major goal was to create a good, high-quality environment which could be relevant on the market for a very long time. We set the objective to equip the building with the best possible technologies and integrations.
- What challenges did you encounter during the design and construction phases?
B.N. During the design phase the challenges were to plan a building that is energy efficient, easy to use and sustainable in time. Unfortunately, Covid-19 pandemic broke out during the construction phase and we were worried about the deliveries of building and technical equipment and the lack of workers. We were pleased that we managed to cope with all challenges and to complete the project on schedule. There were neither delays, nor compromises. It is only the rental process that took longer than planned due to the fact the businesses temporary discontinued renting office spaces. I am happy to share that the process finished at the end of last year and now the building is 100% full.
- What innovative solutions and technologies by Siemens were integrated in GORA, so that the building can function efficiently and stand the test of the future?
B.N. We can be proud of the smart systems by Siemens – mainly the BMS (Building Management System) as well as of the fire detection and access control systems. At the same time, we integrated in the BMS several other systems such as HVAC, elevators, etc. All these systems contribute to the comfort, the energy efficiency, and the access control in the building. We have also introduced some additional technological solutions which are quite rare for our market. One such solution is the exterior blinds on the south façade, a solution which gives a touch of coziness and boosts sun protection. They were also integrated in the BMS. Yes, it was more expensive, but our goal was to provide occupants with the highest comfort possible in the long term.
B.P. With the help of Desigo CC integrated platform by Siemens, we successfully designed and installed the BMS and introduced zone management of the climate in the office areas. We also integrated different specific devices like air handling units, heat and cold centers, fire dampers, garage ventilation, different metering devices such as electrical meters, water meters, heat meters, cold meters, a gas flow meter. Last, but not least, we integrated fire detection and access control systems. In this way we accomplished the highest possible flexibility of building management– something our client required.
I. R. El Smart installed in GORA complex fire detection and access control systems by Siemens, whereby the two systems were integrated in Desigo CC Building Management Platform. These systems guarantee the safety and security of both the visitors and the occupants of the building.
- How does the BMS create benefits and added value for the building?
B.N. This integrated system has a lot of benefits. First, the continuous monitoring and control of all activities, taking place in the building. A single glance at the screen and two clicks of the mouse are enough to check whether there is a problem, how serious it is and to decide how it can be solved. Second, we are trying to make the building as energy efficient as possible and automation options very much support our efforts.
T.P. Building Management is the most essential platform in a building. Designers and systems installers are obliged to investors and occupants to integrate such a system in a building to make it smart and to guarantee to the occupants that they can feel secure about their health and comfort.
Building automation is the core of energy efficiency. It gives us the tools to analyze energy consumption and then to take the necessary actions for optimization of air conditioning, lighting, etc. For us as tenants in the building, it is namely the BMS that can help us accomplish energy efficiency.
BIM models – efficient management from the early project stages
T.P. One of the reasons to opt for working with Siemens in GORA is the opportunity to integrate the BIM models which we developed at the beginning of the project and maintained throughout the whole construction period with the purpose of applying them in the Building Management System. This enables us to monitor whether the actual KPIs during the use of the building correspond to the ones which were envisaged in the project and if not, to optimize them.
In this way we can improve the performance of the building in terms of the efficiency of energy consumption without compromising on comfort.
- What type of companies are tenants in GORA Business Center?
B.N. I am very pleased that we established partnerships with tenants from different industries, very high-quality companies which are just an example for the whole Bulgarian market. For instance, the architects of our building – Ivo Petrov Architects OOD, El Smart OOD – a company, offering fire safety and security solutions, several Bulgarian companies which are entrepreneurship leaders as well as a few software companies.
I have always believed that the rental of office spaces is a form of partnership which should be developed with time. Tenants expect to get not only office spaces, but also predictability, feedback, ideas for improvement.
- What are potential tenants looking for in a building? What are their requirements?
B.N. Our strongest competitive advantage for attracting tenants was the investment in high-tech solutions, headed by the BMS.
T.P. In fact, the Building Management System is one of the main reasons we chose to be tenants in GORA. We feel more secure about our bills, our expenses, the comfort of our people, the healthy environment because we can monitor everything, and we can get actual data of what is happening. We have the chance to plan, to optimize, to be flexible in every single aspect.
We have installed additional automation solutions in the meeting rooms, we can manage audiovisual devices, monitor the emotions of people, guarantee that our visitors feel comfortable. I believe that this is the direction to be followed in the future – connecting the user to the system, providing visitors with options to choose from even during the meetings.
The future tendency is the individual user to be able to control and personalize the environment. The system takes care of users, makes their life easier and provides them with all the tools that can make them feel pleased in every environment.
- In view of the current difficult energy situation, how do you guarantee the energy efficiency of the building? How do you save energy without disrupting the comfort of occupants?
B.N. The BMS contributes to decreasing the consumption of energy resources. Installing chillers on the roof allows for cutting off the use of gas for heating in the spring and the autumn. Functioning as a thermal pump, the chiller can simultaneously heat and cool different parts of the building. Considering the high price of gas, we are thinking about options for diversifying the energy resources.
- As investor in one of the most modern business centers in Sofia, what would you advise investors in future buildings? What technological solutions are obligatory to guarantee ROI?
B.N. It was important to me to create a high-quality product. Such a product can be developed at a much lower price, but we invested in the best systems that could be found on our market. During the construction phase, I quite often wondered whether that was a wrong decision because of the big expenses, but then I saw how the tenants value the qualities of the building.
On the other hand, it is important for us as investors to manage the building effortlessly, to make the building energy efficient. There should be a good balance between energy efficiency and comfort. For that purpose, we modified the project during the construction phase and decided to replace the HVAC system with a system which provides the occupants of the building with a better comfort. That system was 30% more expensive than the other systems, but now I can see how highly the occupants of the building value it. This is the evaluation of a well-done job.
All systems we integrated headed by Siemens’ Desigo CC and all the other technologies in the building were the best solutions we could find on the Bulgarian market. Our new office buildings such as GORA are world class level.