Digitization is an essential part of the successful decarbonization of the building sector

The Czech Republic is only at the very beginning in terms of the digitization of the building industry. The sector is actually one of the least digitized local industries. At the same time, digitization is one of the key prerequisites for the decarbonization of the building industry. 

Without fundamental changes in the sector, achieving the decarbonization goal of making Europe the first zero-emission continent by 2050 is virtually unrealistic. 

Printed documents still lead

“Decarbonization can be perceived as a cross-cutting phenomenon based primarily on detailed and correct measurement of the carbon intensity of most areas of human activity and its subsequent management using both behavioural, legislative and, above all, economic tools,” says Simona Kalvoda, Executive Director of the Czech Green Building Council. Digitization in the building industry will save time and costs and lead to better building management. But the main benefit is that it allows making decisions based on data, not impressions. This is the most important thing for setting up decarbonisation measures and financing them. 

However, the vast majority of information are still used in printed forms, which are impractical for subsequent use or archiving, and in addition, the individual agendas are still not interconnected and work separately. To achieve an optimal state, it is necessary to interconnect number of agendas and to introduce a unified data platform, which should record all the necessary parameters of existing buildings. The platform should enable digital receipt of data on new construction plans and changes in general and provide a data interface for the needs of financial administration, legislation, social affairs, statistics and modelling in a defined standard.

“Bringing together platforms as part of digitization could lead to a simpler and more accurate calculation of a building carbon footprint and the impact of building renovation and modernization on this carbon footprint. This could create an easy-to-use evaluation parameter for selecting the optimal solution, which could also be used in the procurement of contracts in the form of Performance Design & Build. The procurement process itself would also be helped by a higher level of digitization,” says David Martinek, Public Affairs Manager at ČEZ ESCO.

Unnecessary duplications

The absence of a unified platform leads to duplications such as dedicated software for the collection of property tax, the building’s own database of energy labels, the separate development of smart metering solutions, i.e. smart management of the decentralized electricity network or the census of inhabitants, houses and apartments. Another fundamental problem is that existing government systems do not consider the use of state-of-the-art technologies such as decentralized database or artificial intelligence for analysis, management and modelling. 

The BIM method has been used in the Czech Republic for several years. It is about transferring all relevant information about the building into the digital environment and sharing it across the entire life cycle of the building and all stakeholders. “The principles of digital modelling and planning are beneficial throughout the entire life cycle of a building. For building owners and operators, the BIM model is or will be used in the future not only for the design and construction of buildings, but also for the efficient operation of buildings, related to the maintenance and service of individual building elements, which will help decarbonization while considering energy efficiency,” says Petra Hajná, Sustainability Officer at CPI.

Unfortunately, the BIM method is not yet a standard in the Czech Republic. “Standardization or even a law that would require BIM or the principles of sustainable design and operation of buildings is noticeably lacking. In France, for example, the RE2020 law is in force, which requires all projects that apply for a building permit to be designed with a carbon footprint in mind. The state creates pressure, and the market is looking for solutions, which serves as an accelerator,” says Jakub Škaloud, Project Manager at VCES. Jakub Benda, spokesman for Saint Gobain, adds: “As far as BIM is concerned, we have been talking for a long time about the need for state involvement, both in the requirements for our own projects and in the form of rules and methodology.”

The Czech Green Building Council is aware of the importance of digitization for successful decarbonization. In connection with the creation of the Zero Carbon Roadmap, which lists the digitization of the building industry as one of the decarbonization measures, the Council is ready to exert pressure at the government level to accelerate its implementation. 

Architect drawing with cad software designing building


Urbanity plans to revitalize an industrial brownfield in Bruntál

The real estate group Urbanity focuses on building modern production campuses. This spring, we wrote about their project in Tachov. Now, the company is preparing yet another project situated on the other side of the country – in Bruntál. 

The project was introduced to us by Roland Hofman, CEO and co-founder of Urbanity Group. 

You build industrial campuses, but your company is not a typical developer…  

When we founded Urbanity Group, we set ourselves a goal to try and move industrial development forward so that it is once again desired and sought after by the public. For instance, for a very long time, we often heard objections and resentment that we only create grey boxes occupying arable land, which only differ from one other by some coloured strip under the attic referring to the developer’s logo. People don’t like such an impersonal concept, and neither do we. We decided that we should return architecture and design into industrial development and prioritize the comfort of its users.  

Was it the only impulse?

At Urbanity, we made a list of what we don’t like about industrial development: no architecture, often uncomfortable working environment, insufficient services for people, being environment unfriendly, burdening local transport and social infrastructure, the fact that workers must be transported to the emerging locations from remote areas en masse, and the social tension resulting from all that. The real and long-term impacts of industrial development on people and the environment remained a question. We decided be the first to do something about it. To create campuses that would represent an integral part of a pleasant lively city.

What can this represent for the particular location? 

We create production campuses that do not burden urban infrastructure, but rather complement or further develop it. It means that we do not just create a production function without any continuity, but on the contrary, we also create other related services provided not only to local employees, but to the entire community. For instance, a nursery school or a quality area for catering, a cafe, a hotel-type accommodation, a company doctor, sports and community facilities and others.

What do you consider important in this context? 

First and foremost, the fact that we want to focus on revitalization of urban brownfields, both so that arable land doesn’t get seized, and also that people from the regions do not leave for larger residential cities just because they don’t have adequate employment within their area of residence. We want to bring attractive job opportunities back to the regions, connect global opportunities with local talent and thereby positively influence the development of cities and regions.  

That must also arouse other positive factors.

It is also influenced by the fact that our campuses are situated right in the city and people do not have to commute far for work. This corresponds with the fact that they have job opportunities virtually behind their house, which also has an impact on traffic – there is no unnecessary traffic burden. People can get to our campuses on foot or by bike, or public transport. Thanks to the additional services offered, people are able to satisfy more of their needs at once and in one place. This is definitely yet another benefit going even beyond. 

You are currently preparing a revitalization of the industrial area in Bruntál, which is 300 m from the bus and train stations. So, it is perfectly accessible as it is not somewhere in the middle of a field. The campus will become part of the city. Can you reveal anything more specific?  

Accessibility and proximity to people certainly play a big role, especially in production companies where there is a greater number of employees. Car transport of employees to remote workplaces, on the other hand, leaves a more significant carbon footprint than freight transport associated with production activities or supply and distribution. This is associated with dustiness, noise and safety. These are certainly other factors from a perspective of sustainability.  

Tachov has a unique certification. How will it be in Bruntál? 

We naturally want to have the production campus in Bruntál assessed with comprehensive certification as well. We want to apply for BREEAM Communities. In this case, the subject of the certification is not only a separate building, but it is the entire location and the effects of the entire project on the region that are assessed. We do not go the standard way of certifying individual buildings separately in the classic BREEAM form, but in fact, we focus on broader relations. This approach is much more comprehensive and complex from the point of view of the overall functioning.  

Can you briefly describe the entire complex?

The campus will comprise four industrial buildings. The smallest of them has an area of 3,500 sq m; it is aimed more at regional production companies. The other two have approximately 5,000 and 10,000 sq m. The fourth one is exceptional for its size, as it has 35,000 sq m, but at the same time for its clear height of 20 m, which allows for a placement of automated and robotic operations.

In Tachov, you set the principle of revitalizing the complex practically on the fly. Will it be the same here? 

It will be easier for us in Bruntál, because there are not that many buildings intended for complex revitalization. The existing operations will mostly be impacted by the revitalization of the campus infrastructure, including new connections of utility services and a new substation, which will also proceed during full operation.

In older campuses, there is often a problem with high energy performance. What is your plan for solving that? 

All our buildings are classified as exceptionally energy efficient. With regard to our approach to energy, we use the relatively robust know-how of our internal energy team. We will certainly maximize the involvement of local renewable sources. All roofs will naturally be equipped with solar panels. From our experience in Tachov, we know that we can cover approximately 40–50% of production clients’ consumption. The advantage of the Bruntál project is that, like in Tachov, the ČEZ Distribuce substation is virtually outside the fence, so, we are not fundamentally limited in terms of capacity. 

How will you handle other important issues?

We will use local sources of drinking water through our own boreholes; thus, we will be able to be 100% self-sufficient. The possible use of heat pumps will depend on the type of production. What has proven very successful for us in Tachov is the use of emission heat from the production process, with which we can cover 100% of hot water consumption and up to 80% of heat consumption for heating the building. We will also work intensively with the colourful elements of the blue-green infrastructure.

Do you collaborate on the project with Bruntál municipality?

Yes, we do. This can be seen, for instance, in the cooperation on a new traffic solution for the access road. The existing access road has, for more than 50 years, led rather ineptly through a villa residential area. We signed a cooperative agreement with the city claiming that we will build a new driveway, which will quieten down the residential area. The new transport solution will also better follow in the emerging urban ring road of Bruntál, which is fully under the responsibility of the city management. The city management has been working on the ring road intensively for many years. Today, they already have a building permit and should commence the implementation next year. As part of the new campus transport solution, we will also build a new bus stop, which will be right at the entrance to the campus. This will further improve the already very good accessibility of the area. In general, I would say that cooperation with the council is very constructive and effective. We were able to identify problems and find their solutions together, which is very important. 

Does the entire site remain in your possession?  

Exactly. We are not only a developer, but also an investor, manager and landlord. Our investment horizon is not as much long-term as it is permanent. Which can be seen in our approach. We can afford to look at the investment from a slightly different perspective than we would if knowing that we would sell our projects to someone else – whether in one or five years. By wanting to keep our projects permanently, we also know that we want and will live in symbiosis with people and communities for decades to come. That is a big commitment.

The last question is what is the time frame for completion?  

We are now at the stage where we have received all the necessary statements and we anticipate that by the end of this year we will have obtained a valid permit for the entire site. We plan to commence construction next year and will be able to deliver the buildings in 6–12 months. We plan to complete the project in three years. The individual buildings will be built turnkey to clients’ specific requirements in order to best suit their needs. Tenancy agreements are signed for 10–15 years, which, for instance, also enables us to adapt energy solutions to clients much better. 


Arnošt Wagner

Photo: Urbanity archive


Roland Hofman

He specializes in investment, management and development of commercial real estate. He is the co-founder of the real estate group Urbanity, where he holds the position of CEO. He is a graduate of the finance department at VŠB-TU in Ostrava, he received his MBA degree at the University of Greenwich in London, where he also gained experience from working in top management. In the past, he worked in high managerial and statutory positions in companies belonging to the investment company M.L. Moran, where he also set on the Supervisory Board. 


Horizon Holding has big plans in Prague

The subsidiary of the leading Israeli development and construction company Shikun & Binui (Housing & Construction) – Horizon Holding – has been operating in Prague for 22 years. 

Shikun & Binui (Housing & Construction) was founded in 1924. It is traded on the Israeli Stock Exchange and has numerous activities in the field of residential construction, energy infrastructure and transport constructions all over the world, including Africa, and North and South America. “Here, in the Czech Republic, we mainly focus on residential buildings, and over the past 21 years, we have managed to complete around 2,000 apartments. We have similar activities in Warsaw, Bucharest and Belgrade,” says the company’s CEO, Yishay Furman. We asked him more questions.

Can you tell us more about the projects you have completed recently or that are under construction? 

We have two projects in Modřany – last year, we completed the Modřanka project with 355 apartments, and we are currently about halfway through the Zahálka project, which is located in the immediate vicinity to the golf course in Hodkovičky and near the Vltava River, in a beautiful location with very nice architecture. There will be 800 apartments, where 500 have already been completed and handed over, and other 300 are under construction and on sale. In Čimice, we have the Čámovka project with a total of 700 apartments, of which around 300 have been completed, and we want to start building the other 400 from the next year. Three years ago, we completed a project in Horoměřice, Prague-West, with 200 apartments. We finished two projects in Karlín, the first of which was Rezidence Vltava with 105 apartments (completed in 2016) and the second was the boutique project Kay River Lofts on the Rohanské Embankment. It has, so far, probably been our best project in Prague.  

And what about the planned ones?

One of our largest projects is located in Statenice. First phase of Aura Statenice comprises of 79 spacious villas (around 300 sq m) with plots of around 1,000 sq m is now on sale. We are waiting for a building permit for the second stage with approximately 600 apartments, which should be launched sometime in early 2025. Recently, we started sale of our new project in Karlín called Blízká. We currently have hundreds of people interested in reservations, with some already being signed. It is an example of a good location, a good standard and a reasonable price, so there is a satisfactory interest even in these uncertain times. We are planning another project in Bohdalec, where we have requested a change in the zoning plan for the construction of 1,500 apartments, which should be one of the largest housing projects in Prague. If everything goes smoothly, we might be able to apply for planning permission in 2026. Then we have a very large plot of land in Chuchle, where we plan around 1,500 apartments, but we are waiting for a change in the zoning plan. The Urbanika project with 170 apartments is located near Strakonická Street and the development area near Smíchov Station. We hope to be able to start building by the middle of 2024. And the last project with 100 apartments, is in Záběhlice, and I assume that we will start building at the beginning of next year. 

So, how many apartments do you want to put onto the market in the coming years?  

Next year, we will have 1,200 units in preparation in five projects and in the near future, we will have total of 3,870 units in preparation. In the last two years of the crisis, we have been trying to prepare projects in such a way that – as soon as the crisis passes, the banks lower the interest rate and mortgages become more available – we can put them onto the market. So, if everything goes smoothly, we should start the mentioned projects in 2024. 

Sustainability and certification are a very current topic for developers and construction companies. How are you doing?  

All of our planned projects, which I talked about in the previous answer, will undergo BREEAM sustainable construction certification, which is more common for residential construction. The point is not for the projects to be only ‘green’, but also to be connected to the community. So, it is also about their surroundings in order to make living more pleasant not only for our residents and tenants, but for neighbours and other people as well by, soft landscaping, for instance. In Aura Statenice, every villa includes a heat pump. It is a fairly high initial investment, but we believe that it is an investment in the future and that it will pay off for homeowners. I assume that within 10–15 years, all residential projects will be sustainable. It will be like offices, where it became part of the standard; 20 years ago, we considered it unnecessary. And it will go the same for apartments.  

Arnošt Wagner

Photo: Horizon Holding archive 

Innovation in parking with Green Center

Innovation, sustainability, and efficient use of urban space – these are the key aspects highlighted by the recent successes in parking solutions implemented by Green Center, the leading Czech manufacturer and provider of parking systems and technologies.

Green Center focuses on integrating advanced technologies in its projects, which include license plate recognition systems and navigation systems for efficient guidance to available parking spaces, all with the aim of optimizing user experience while also promoting sustainable development in urban areas.

P+R parking house in Nové Butovice

The P+R parking house project in Nové Butovice represents an extraordinary combination of comfortable parking for 380 vehicles while also efficiently utilizing space with a thoughtful division for commuters and local residents. With four charging stations for electric vehicles and the potential for future expansion to a total of 33 stations, this implementation is a prime example of innovation in urban parking.

“We are very pleased with this project because it reflects our ongoing effort to create practical and eco-friendly parking solutions that effectively respond to current needs and aim towards sustainable cities,” says Tomáš Zdobnický, CEO and owner of Green Center.

P+R parking house in Mladá Boleslav

A new P+R parking garage has also been recently opened in Mladá Boleslav. With more than 300 parking spaces and six charging stations for electric vehicles, strategically located between the sports hall and the main entrance to the stadium, this project offers not only practical advantages to the city’s inhabitants but also supports ecological mobility.

T. Zdobnický comments it: “Our investment into innovative and sustainable parking solutions reflects our firm belief that smart technologies and thoughtful urban approaches are key to creating smart and green cities for future generations.”

In the context of growing challenges of urban mobility and enduring sustainability, projects like those from Green Center become an essential step towards adapting our infrastructure and promoting a more sensitive and efficient use of urban space.

Passerinvest Group as an exemplary positive builder

Passerinvest Group is a Czech investment and construction company founded in 1991 by Radim Passer. The company’s main project is Brumlovka in Prague 4, where they turned an originally unattractive and neglected brownfield into a fully-fledged modern and pleasant part of the city.

Eduard Forejt, who has been working at Passerinvest Group since 2018 and is the Director of Business Development, spoke with us about the current situation in the real estate market and the company’s plans.

We can start on a more general note – how is Passerinvest Group doing in the market? 

It has two dimensions. One is Passerinvest Group (hereinafter Passerivest) the investor and the other Passerinvest the builder. The first covers the buildings we own, manage and develop. Currently, this represents approximately 250 000 sq m of rental premises. In Brumlovka alone, we own 10 out of 12 administrative buildings. We continue to develop Brumlovka, so we are preparing several projects for construction. There we come to the second dimension, which represents Passerinvest as a builder. Unfortunately, the circumstances affecting the economics of projects have changed fundamentally in recent years, especially in the area of financing, which is directly connected to interest rates that are still increasing or have been increasing in the European market. But it is not the only area where the economy of buildings has changed negatively. When simplified, the calculations are affected by four parameters – acquisition value, construction costs, then there are software costs, which also include the financial ones, and the sales value determined by the so-called yield. These parameters determine what potential profit you can take into account. However, since there was an unprecedented deterioration of all parameters, we find ourselves in a situation where it is irresponsible to commence construction of new administrative buildings.

And what is actually new in Passerinvest?

I don’t know if it is completely new, but there are two directions I would like to talk about. The first direction refers to our initiatives through which we try to shed light on socially important topics in a very transparent manner. When you look up the www.republikabohatsi.cz website, the videos and other materials will inform you more about the motorway initiative or the development of buildings for a richer country. For example, the data for the second initiative (development of buildings for a richer country) describe beautifully the fundamental importance of construction for the well-being of all citizens of the Czech Republic. That is also why our main motto states: “When your neighbour builds, you also get rich.” For instance, almost 76% from every invested crown goes, thanks to multiplication, to the state budget, that means that every one thousand-crown note invested in the construction of buildings ‘enriches’ the state by CZK 760 . And these are the funds that the state will use, for instance, for teacher or policemen’s salaries or for anything else that our society needs. Moreover, construction generates new jobs, not only during the construction phase, but also after its completion. That is one part.

And the other one? 

I will give Brumlovka as an example. Passerinvest has been developing it for 25 years. There we show how the city interacts. Brumlovka is distinctly administrative, but it is built in an area whose surroundings actually form the largest residential part of the city. Historically, there was a lot of housing, but little space for work, which forced people to commute far for work. The first facilities built within the brownfield were offices creating much-needed jobs with public areas. The offices were gradually complemented with shops and eventually with a nursery school, a school, etc. The area started to become a fully-fledged area, if not an above-standard part of the city. Urban planning was formerly set by the architect Aulík, and we still stick to his concept. We show that the city has the ability to function in that interaction, that a new sub-centre of the city district can also be created. We have reached the point where we are building more apartments because, according to our calculations, there is a lack of new buildings in the immediate vicinity – especially when it comes to rental apartments. We currently have two new buildings planned in Brumlovka. One has already been issued with a building permit and will include around 66 rental apartments. We are now specifying what such a rental apartment should look like in order to complement the structure of the given location. We are aware that we are part of a larger entirety and create some kind of added value for others. So, with a bit of exaggeration, I say, for instance, that today we have the largest swimming pool in Prague 4, because our water features are used a lot by children during the summer – and not only by them. If you keep a close eye on what is going on around you, you’ll realize that the water features could use deck chairs for people to relax, so we have added them there. It is a kind of unintentional participatory process. But to make it clear, Brumlovka is not there only for people from nearby offices. Those who work there are not there at weekends or in the evenings. Still, Brumlovka is widely used for various accompanying programmes, dance and travel clubs, running with Puma, etc. We simply support all activities that shape the local community and show that if you approach the locality as a whole and with a certain vision, it is possible. 

So, Brumlovka can serve as a manual of city-forming elements… 

I think it can and on top of that, it was based on a brownfield – originally, there were landfills, broken garages, etc., so the acquisition value started at zero. I believe that it is a nice example of how to execute a fully-fledged revitalization of the city. With such projects, you must not deal only with houses, but with the entire territory, and this has definitely turned out well in Brumlovka, judging by the reactions of foreign visitors who come there to check it out and absorb our approaches to the revitalization of the city. We don’t keep our experience to ourselves. We try to educate others and cooperate a lot with schools, professional public, etc. We don’t stop even when there is an economic struggle today and inflation pushes us to higher price levels. But we don’t want to compromise on the quality of construction, and our example shows that it can be done. The good thing is that we are not alone and we are sincerely pleased that there are more responsible developers in the Prague market thinking about the territory in a long-term perspective. We logically transfer our experience and corporate DNA to other projects. For instance, we are now finishing the Roztyly Plaza project, and people wonder why we build parks first and then build buildings. I say that this is simply a kind of Passerinvest’s fundament to first create a location and not wait for construction. Of course, it is important to say that our financial situation allows us to do this. If this were not the case, we would probably have to do it differently, but our projects definitely work and will work with the connection to their surroundings and the creation of quality public space. 

Sorry, you said revitalization, don’t you mean recycling?  

I don’t like to use the word recycling for Brumlovka as it is a very different discipline. Recycling is a state where one out-of-date function is replaced by a new one with a higher value. At that moment, you may have to buy functional, though aging apartments or some other space that is still usable in order to demolish it and build a new building.  

What does the Roztyly Plaza project actually look like?  

We are still building it, but it is already beautiful, the whole figure can already be seen, and the facade is gradually being clothed in its final appearance. But that is, of course, a subjective view, even though it is a view of someone who has been dealing with administrative buildings for a long time. However, the project is being created in the neighbourhood of an already existing leisure park with outdoor fitness and workout elements, pump tracks, a children’s playground, etc. The community that is already being formed there is discovering that what we present in the plan will really be built in an appropriate quality. This is also why the visualizations of Roztyly Plaza are a very faithful representation of what is actually being created there. It is a kind of DNA of Passerinvest and Mr. Passer, who pays attention to the quality of user space as well as to the aesthetic level, because both components are simply inextricably linked. The users can perceive it, even if they often can’t define it. It is like when you feel nice in some place and you don’t know exactly why. 

Is there anything that currently surprises you or catches you unawares during construction?

I wouldn’t say that there is anything that would catch me unawares, but our assumptions, which I talked about in the first part of the interview, are being unpleasantly confirmed. The reality is that for the first time, I am encountering a situation when we – like Passerinvest – have a building permit, but we are not starting construction because it would be irresponsible to do so from an economic point of view. The market is not yet ready to accept higher rental prices, just as there has been no correction in the other parameters of the construction economy. Every builder has an inner desire to build, so we do everything we can to resolve the individual aspects of price formation to such an extent that we can build as soon as possible.  

Arnošt Wagner

Photo: Passerinvest Group archive

Higher visual comfort = higher employee performance!

The topic of savings in commercial buildings now represents one of the top priorities of all operators of commercial buildings. But in fact, saving costs in operations also make it possible to achieve better comfort and higher employee performance. 

Visual comfort goes hand in hand with ‘non-invasive’ lighting control, without the need for complex reconstructions. It can be achieved by a simple installation of lights with wireless control and utilization of natural sunlight in the building during the day. Commercial buildings are usually more than 50% glazed. Employees don’t need to worry about setting the lighting intensity withing the working area. Everything is done on their behalf by a wireless lighting control system, which is additionally installed without the need for cabling with illuminance sensors and presence monitoring at the workplace. 

Hybrid work has changed offices

Offices are developing by pushing the boundaries between work, living and co-living, which requires a radical examination of traditional office lighting installations, this being especially due to the upswing of hybrid work. Wireless lighting control has proven to play a really huge role in providing flexible, highly attractive administrative premises that offer superior user experience, less energy waste and better employee well-being and productivity. Combined with daylight and occupancy detection, intelligent lighting control can save significant amount of energy in offices by ensuring that the right light is used when necessary. These systems can be easily controlled by switches, sensors or mobile applications. 

Example No. 1: Donaldson Filtration Solutions offices, Kadaň

The need to replace cassette strip lights (which are no longer available for sale in the EU) came only 15 years after the start of operation. It involved 600 sq m of offices (two open space areas with a corridor + 10 offices, two meeting rooms) and car park and loading area lighting that was secured by street lighting. 196 lamps were replaced with a retrofit completion of the original Synergis Lighting_Control wiring with lighting automation and control of office lighting: 

  • The light from the windows was used because the building was 50% glazed.
  • Dimming was controlled in accordance with daily increase in light. 
  • The seven-fold increase in the price of electricity brought about the need to reduce the seven-fold higher costs of the original lighting. 

The nominal consumption was reduced by around 58% in exchange for 196 LED recessed PROLUMIA Pro-Office DALI lighting fixtures with UGR<16 with the best visual comfort in the market.and additional consumption was reduced to 120 installed LED lighting fixtures by another 40% thanks to automated control using the Synergis Lighting_Control by Casambi technology. Dimming was set using light and presence sensors that regulate the performance of the lighting fixtures. The automation of lighting schedules was set in accordance with the presence of people in the 50% glazed offices. 

And the result?

The qualified estimate of savings using active control was around CZK 425,000 per year, while the acquisition costs for this ‘retrofit’ control system were around CZK 380,000.

After adding up the savings, Donaldson Kadaň came close to the original lighting costs with a huge shift in employee visual comfort and increased employee performance thanks to the extremely low lighting factor of the lighting fixtures under UGR<16. 

Example No. 2: Control room of the hydroelectrical power station Střekov – ČEZ Renewable resources: 

It was expected for the lighting comfort to improve when the colour temperature of the lighting changed during the day. The lighting of the control room with 24/7 operation was replaced by fully automatic controllable lights in accordance with the circadian rhythm depending on the time of day for better visual comfort with PROLUMIA Pro-Office TW (tunable white) lights. Autonomous control of the circadian rhythm and dimming was set up using the Synergis Lighting_Control.

Industrial premises are one of the more complex types of buildings to light. Energy consumption for lighting industrial facilities, especially industrial warehouses and storage areas, belongs to the highest ones (46 kWh/sq m per year), therefore it is very important to reduce operation and maintenance costs when the energy savings are being increased. Production halls are premises that can mostly operate 24/7, which means that energy-saving lighting fixtures and more efficient use of daylight are beneficial not only for energy saving, but also for improving visual conditions and the overall well-being of employees.  

Example No. 3: Production premises of Jakob Müller AG – Czech Republic 

After 15 years of operation, the company needed to replace their strip lighting with approximately 200 PROLUMIA Retrofit II LED lights. There they used incident light from skylights measured by wireless motion/light sensors with optics used in high-altitudes. Autonomous zonal Lighting_Control of individual workplaces was modified using lighting dimming according to shifts and the needs of individual production departments from the warehouse, welding room to quality control of all production areas in accordance with the set Luxes in workplaces came to 200 to 750 Luxes. 


Thanks to this change, 77% of the original costs are saved during daily operation. 

Advantages of the Synergis solution for building operations: 

  • energy efficiency and sustainability, 
  • data and connectivity, occupancy control, 
  • no need for Internet connection for daily operation, 
  • reduction of operating costs, 
  • wireless emergency lighting with automatic testing and reporting, 
  • trouble-free installation, easy way of being put into operation.

What to say in conclusion?

Today’s modern office and industrial buildings need a different approach to lighting; it should be flexible, adaptable to changing functions and user preferences, and energy efficient. Lighting is the largest endpoint of electricity consumption in European offices accounting for 40% of all electricity consumption. Intelligent lighting control can save up to 60% of energy in offices when combined with daylight, while occupancy detection can save up to 44% in comparison with an installation without sensors.

What is also important is the functionality for the end user; a recent study states that 33% of office workers said that they would like to adjust their ceiling and desk lighting to the level of incoming daylight. Giving workers individual control over lighting, which is also required by green building certification schemes such as LEED and BREEAM, can easily be achieved by installing the wireless Synergis Light_Control in all, even already existing buildings. 

Richard Jílek, Photo: Synergis archive 

ANTRACIT strengthens its position, taking on more projects

The portfolio of the ANTRACIT Property Development Group ranges from logistics and manufacturing to administrative projects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Continued revitalisation of the Ostrava centre

The residential and office project Multifunction House VÁCLAV will be built in the historical centre of Ostrava. Rescue archaeological research is currently underway, and construction will begin in early 2024. Another project is ANTRACIT Lívia comprising smart wooden houses built in the District of Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz. Finally, from September 2023, the visitors will have a chance to use the ANTRACIT PorubkaPoint known as a HANGAR Ostrava climbing centre. The ANTRACIT Pilsen brownfield project (rental and warehouse premises) is underway near the main Pilsen railway station. Reconstruction and construction work will start in 2024. Another project, ANTRACIT Ústí nad Labem brownfield area will offer a total of eight premises intended for manufacturing, warehousing, and/or offices. The complex is currently being revitalized.

Development boom in Slovakia

The ANTRACIT Spot project in Žilina will be handed over to a gymnastics and parkour academy for children and teens at the end of January 2024. For the second stage of the ANTRACIT Senec project documentation for EIA and zoning proceedings is being finalized, and construction will start at the end of 2024. The project ANTRACIT Prešov is in its final stage of being connected to the underground utilities. The premises are suitable for warehouses, showrooms, and/or shops. 

More at www.antracitproperty.eu.

Modern facility management is loaded with technology

There are many different things one can see behind the ‘modern facility management’ term. Some see it as a not really ‘sexy’ field that deals with buildings, premises, and security. 

However, modern facility management has become quite ‘sexy’ in recent years due to new technologies. The flourishing of IoT and robotics and all the technological innovations that have already been here but started to make even more sense with the energy crisis vindicate it. 

IoT helps savings and efficiency 

Technologies can not only save costs, but they also serve as a great tool in the decision-making process of business management. Thanks to them, management is always well aware of what is happening anywhere within their buildings or premises and can thus decide how to set up further processes based on relevant data. Keeping a good track and having the possibility to actively influence the efficiency of individual workplaces is often priceless. 

Systems and sensors interconnected within the IoT system contribute to savings and efficiency significantly. There is no need to send workers to take readings and have the necessary data only once a month or a year. IoT and remote readings give you real-time data and you can also see the trend at times when reading would otherwise not be possible. This is how OKIN Facility revealed for some clients, for instance, the operation of equipment in production even when there was no production in process. Modifications and in some cases automation of processes allow one to do a lot, which saves money and time. In some cases, the system can, for instance, alert you to increased values and the worker can decide himself what to do next. At other times, the system can be set automatically. If any value is exceeded, a message (alarm) is generated or pre-set automated procedures occur. 

The OKIN Facility has the advantage of having their own system, which can also be connected to the client’s system, so there is no need for the client to purchase an additional system. The biggest advantage, however, is the possibility of connecting different types of sensors and detectors into one system. Sensors and detectors usually have their own applications, which usually cannot be interconnected. This is not the case here.

A case study from retail with a specific solution

The following business case from a retail area can document the use of IoT in practice. The customer manages an extensive network of branches and was looking for an efficient and comprehensive solution for the supervision and control of their operations. The main challenges were to monitor the quality of goods storage and energy consumption in individual branches, measure the temperature within the area in order to optimize heating (and thus reduce costs), centralize the control of light advertising in order to eliminate unnecessary waste, and at the same time increase user comfort. The aim was to ensure that all branches are managed centrally and in real-time, which would lead to better control over the operations, cost savings and overall efficiency gains.  

OKIN Facility and their partners delivered a complete solution to their client. From the initial analysis and mapping of the state of the branches through suitable hardware for fitting existing energy meters, temperature sensors for refrigerators and stores and devices for turning on and off light advertising to its physical installation on site. These devices are operated using batteries with a multi-year lifespan and thanks to advanced LP WAN networks, such as LoRaWAN from ČRA. 

The brain of the entire solution is SARAhub’s own cloud platform, which collects data from all devices and sensors, displays detailed information, history, trends and, above all, enables timely and automated response to emerging situations using user-defined scenarios. The advantage is the combination of different agendas within one environment and further expansion possibilities. 

The next logical step is to use the collected data for ESG reporting, expand the functionality by counting people in the store, footfall analysis, or monitoring the filling of waste containers in selected locations in order to optimize waste collection.  

Robots (and cobots) save costs and manpower

It is not only energy efficiency, but also, for instance, cleaning whose process is also performed using robots. Sometimes, they are also called cobots, because they still need some kind of cooperation with people. But even they can take care of much more efficient cleaning, because they can clean for hours with the same quality and without getting tired. Similarly, they can handle cleaning in warehouses and halls where they need neither heat nor light. That is where further efficiency is achieved due to energy savings, because the lights would otherwise stay on all night during cleaning time. The most effective combination of working and charging time and an appropriately selected robot for a specific environment and surface is not only about choosing the brand of the robot, but about real knowledge of technologies and their possibilities (each manufacturer and model is different) as well as the cleaning process in specific clients’ operations.

Today’s robots know how to learn, their software and their flexibility are constantly being improved for even more perfect cleaning and better assistance. They can’t do everything yet, but they can already do a lot. In the same way, human labour force (on which facility management is based) can spend more time on jobs that are more complicated and robots cannot handle yet. At OKIN Facility, these technologies and innovations are dealt with by a special department with people who understand both technology and facility management and provide clients with further efficiency and added value.

Technology represents an important help in this field – and not only there. It is just a matter of how best to use them and adapt the whole process for it to be really efficient and make it possible to work in more places at the same time and with a more significant use of human labour force and skill, because the rest can be helped with by technology. 

Ing. Tomáš Polák

Photo: OKIN Facility archive

Liget will offer smart apartments with a view of Bratislava Castle

Just as Prague looked out for the unique Fragment by Trigema, Bratislava is enjoying a new dominant feature of a development construction. 

VSD Development is completing Liget, a high-rise apartment building with an ambitious goal – to take the Slovak housing market to a new level with its architecture, design, location and also comfort, which will be fundamentally supported by smart technologies. Famous Slovak personalities and businessmen are already hanging about the luxury apartments. They probably don’t want to miss the opportunity to be present at a prestigious project that stands out on the map of Slovak development projects. 

North American style and a dreamt-of maisonette

When presenting new projects, no developer usually spares superlatives. What did VSD Development do then to make Liget different and live up to its motto of ‘a new history of housing’?

The modern high-rise building is situated on the edge of the Janko Kráľ Park in Petržalka district, Bratislava. It was designed by an experienced architect Ľubomír Závodný and members of the DZ Architekti office. The glass design is complemented by at first sight inconspicuous balconies, which make them look like high-rise apartment buildings from North America. 

Liget is deliberately not presented as a project for a wider range of interested parties, but as highly premium housing. Luxury breathes on the residents as soon as they enter. “The lobby is entered through a revolving door. Inside, you find a gentleman in a jacket who will show you into the building, which should resemble a hotel style. There will be an electronic turnstile installed there. It will close after 10 p.m., but will open for you as the owner,” explained Peter Marhula, CEO at VSD Development, to the Slovak online blog YIM.BA. The residents (for instance businessmen) will be able to plan and organize meetings in the premises adjacent to the lobby.

The beautiful apartments, of which there will be 90, are already to welcome their demanding residents this year. The two to four-room residences are designed in three variants of colours and materials used. But the real hidden treasure is the maisonette apartment situated on the 15th and 16th floor with a perfect view of the historic centre of the capital and even the Bratislava Castle. The largest and most luxurious apartment is, nevertheless, the 700 sq m penthouse on the top floor.

Equipment for maximum comfort 

The demanding character of the housing unit solutions corresponds with the demanding clientele. Desired comfort is created by connecting high-quality design, equipment and technology. And it is the technologies that the apartments and the whole house are really loaded with. Ceiling cooling, floor heating, heat recovery, electric shading and in the best apartments even their private internal lift.

The technologies themselves would not be enough if their operation was difficult and complicated for the residents. The developer also kept that in mind and decided to upgrade the intelligent system. The functions of the apartment are largely controlled automatically. Control elements are minimal and do not detract from the refined design. The residents can get by with only one stylish button in each room, or else, they have an overview of the household in one mobile application. 

Automatic fixscreens will prevent overheating and secure privacy 

The interesting feature of the building is the different structural heights of the floors, which range from 2.6 to 3.5 m. The combination with large glazed surfaces looks perfect, but can cause overheating of the interiors. That is why the developer opted for so-called fixscreens, external wind tight shutters that fit the glazed facades perfectly. Despite the shading, they let in enough daylight and at the same prevent one to see in through them. 

Fixscreens represent a good example of how technology can be further improved by its smart automation. The shutters will be self-operated, always according to the current internal temperature. In the summer, they will effectively prevent overheating, in the winter, on the contrary, they will not prevent the heat gain from the glazed surfaces to heat the interior favourably. The shutters close automatically at the desired hour in order to prevent nosy parkers from looking into the lit rooms.

Smart apartments as standard

The apartments will be fitted with automatic shading and other smart functions at their base level and these will be secured by the Loxone system. The rooms will self-regulate the temperature according to their residents’ requirements through the aforementioned shutters and, above all, automatic floor heating. The investor did not have to buy additional temperature sensors, because the internal climate, including humidity, is measured by the aforementioned button (so-called touch) with a built-in sensor.

The unobtrusive presence sensors on the ceiling allowed for lighting automation. Safety functions have also been added to eliminate damage in the event of accidents. A water leak, for instance from a washing machine, is recognized by the water leak detector and the owner receives an immediate notification wherever he is. 

And the remote access from the application is yet another essential benefit. Having your own property ‘in your pocket’ when at work or on holiday is even more important when it comes to luxury apartments. All you need is one application instead of having several different ones for heating, lights, shading… Everything is clearly laid out in one place. Indeed, Loxone is based on connecting individual technologies.

The added value for the developer also pleased Peter Marhula. “In order to satisfy the requirements of the most demanding clients, it is necessary to ensure a high level of living comfort. Liget is therefore technologically loaded and outstrips other competitors in Bratislava. Intelligent wiring ensures practically autonomous operation of the apartment unit – automation is superior to manual functions,” explains the CEO at VSD Development. The Loxone system can be expanded with additional technologies and functions according to the owners’ requirements at any time.

Smart residence with Loxone 

What developers mostly appreciate is the fact that the smart system increases the value and attractiveness of the entire project. Automated buildings provide tenants with inimitable comfort. Thanks to smart energy management, the building achieves essential operational savings. The above-standard building protection is also important. The developer can reduce the initial investment by replacing the individual control systems with one universal one, which also controls

Pavel Lískovec, Loxone, Branch Manager CZ

Premium properties resist market volatility

Unique locations, exclusivity and specific architecture – these are the factors that belong, according to Marek Unčovský from Avant Financial Group, among the most important in terms of development. 

Together we talked about the investment portfolio focused on premium real estate and the activities and opportunities the group pursues in the market.

Your group focuses, among other things, on investments in the development of premium real estate. Why do you think it is worth investing in such properties? 

The charm of premium real estate lies primarily in their resistance to market volatility. An exceptional project simply always finds its buyer. After all, we were able to see that for ourselves many times in history – unlike other commodities, the value of premium real estate resisted market fluctuations significantly better. The uniqueness of the project, which is usually characterized by a specific location, connection to its character, distinctive architecture and privacy, is also important to us.

Which specific development projects are you currently working on?  

We invest in real estate through the Nemomax qualified investors’ fund (Nemomax investment fund with variable capital, a. s.), which has focused on investing in the development of premium real estate since 2017. At the end of July this year, the value of their assets reached CZK 892 million and is building a very respectable portfolio. The fund’s successful projects include, for instance, the reconstructed First Republic villa Rokoska located at the foot of the slope above Troja, Prague. They have also built modern apartment buildings within the VIVA Vrchlabí project. As for the upcoming projects, I would like to mention the Na Karmeli Residence, which will offer, in the future, premium apartments in the middle of the historic centre of Mladá Boleslav. The newest project that is being prepared is the VIVA Lipno project situated on the bank of a popular South Bohemian dam, which is undergoing preparatory work and obtaining necessary documentation. It combines exclusivity, a unique location, unique architecture and privacy. It is also exceptional for blending in with the surrounding nature, as the individual objects were designed to evoke the natural part of the surrounding forest cover and to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. 

Apart from development, you are also engaged in financial services. Who are they aimed at?  

The investment company AVANT, which has had a strong name in the market for the past 17 years has been included in our portfolio since 2021. The company specializes in the establishment, management and administration of funds of qualified investors. We provide experienced investors with interesting investment opportunities, for instance in sectors such as the development of residences and commercial real estate, logistics and industrial sites. And it is thanks to the activities of the investment company AVANT that we have gained valuable know-how on how to connect the investment and business sectors. Now, we intend to use this experience within the holding company Avant Financial Group.  

What in particular do you offer? 

We help entrepreneurs in different ways. First of all, we offer them equity financing, or buying out their project. Our third service is strategic management and acquisition of strategic partners. That helps projects that thematically do not fall into our area of focus, but we still see growth potential in them. We will evaluate the opportunity and connect these entrepreneurs with investors or other partners from within the AVANT ecosystem who will help them develop their company. We provide our clients with strategic management in such fundamental projects. 

I see your group is doing well despite the recession. What economic results does it achieve?  

At Avant Financial Group, we maintain stable growth. Over the past year, we managed to achieve a profit of CZK 110 million and increase our capital to CZK 328 million. The assets of our group reached the threshold of CZK 1.35 billion. The growth of Avant Financial Group is based on a set strategy that we have followed since the company was founded – to focus on premium and unique projects with growth potential. Despite the current macroeconomic situation, we see that we have chosen the right direction and we are glad that our investors and partners trust us in this regard.