Interview by Nikos Dimtsas, Chief Investment Officer of Dimand SA
to Symela Touchtidou
Dimand is one of Greece’s leading real estate developers. Its Karela Office Park was the first building in Greece to receive a Gold LEED certification, in 2013. Its portfolio of green buildings has grown since, including iconic projects, such as the Piraeus Tower and the Papastratos former tobacco company parking
Nikos Dimtsas, Chief Investment Officer of Dimand SA, notes that opting for “green” was not a simple choice, since the assessment of benefits outweighing the cost was not a given back then.
Dimand is a pioneer of sustainable buildings in Greece. When was the strategic decision of embarking on the green agenda taken and what benefits does it bring to the company and its clients?
The decision was taken in 2009 when we developed the Karela Office Park at Paiania, Attica. At that time, we were concerned about the cost vs benefit of such a decision but obviously we took the right one and embarked on the green agenda thereafter.
Benefits include environmental compliance, operational savings, investor preference and public recognition, among others.
Apart from residences and offices, are there other uses for green buildings offered to your clients?
Sustainable working environments are the cornerstone of our product line, but we have also developed LEED-certified hotels and mixed-use projects. Apart from LEED accreditation, we are now embracing WELL in selected projects, which is mostly concerned about the wellbeing of a building’s users.
What does the “Sustainability Team” of Dimand do?
Our sustainability team consists of four in-house specialists. All members of the team have an engineering degree and additional credentials regarding the most common certifications for sustainable construction and operation. The team is diverse concerning the field of their original studies, their country of origin, age and gender. The team has been continuously growing with the number of projects Dimand undertakes and the expectations of our clients. Due to an increase in health concerns, our sustainability team has included a growing number of Health and Wellness-related accreditations. Although the specialists are the individuals who coordinate sustainability issues on our projects, it has to be mentioned that they are only one part of the total team; cooperation and integration lie at the core of the strategy that leads to the goal of sustainability. This goal can be achieved only if all individuals on a project have deep understanding of sustainability. Therefore, a big part of the role played by the sustainability team, is the information and education of all involved parties.
Could you share with us plans for future green projects? Will they all be in Attica?
Attica remains the main area of our activity, and our new pipeline includes a number of projects in downtown Athens, Piraeus and Marousi.
At the same time, we focus on the western side of Thessaloniki and also examine some smaller cities.
How can we explain that almost all “green” buildings certified by international organizations are either in Attica or Thessaloniki?
The reason the green trend started in the two biggest cities is because that’s where educated developers, investors and users typically transact. Our task is to invest in sustainable buildings, independent of site; so yes, once we develop schemes in other parts of Greece, such projects will be green.
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) has created the WELL Building Standard, a roadmap for creating and certifying spaces that advance human health and well-being. It includes a set of strategies—backed by scientific research—on design interventions and operational protocols and policies that foster a culture of health and well-being. It is in use by over 4,000 projects in more than 60 countries, encompassing over half a billion square feet of real estate around the world. Performance standards for design interventions, operational protocols and company-wide practices are verified by a third party.
This article is published in the March/ April issue of Greek Business File, part of the cover story on the top construction industry trend of building green. The cover story presents the history of green buildings in Greece, the pioneers and market leaders. It also looks into the huge gap between the capital and the rest of the country. The March/ April issue of Greek Business File is available here.