On the 27th of March 2018 the Bulgarian Green Building Council organized, a round table named "Conscious entrepreneurs: Sustainable Investment Projects - the link between construction and the green economy", with the support of Green Sofia, and special guests from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The event was opened by Arch. Vesela Valcheva-McGee, Chairperson of BSSD, Larissa Manasterly, EBRD Country Director for Bulgaria and Elitsa Panayotova, Coordinator of the Green Sofia Project, where the round table was held.
Invited guests were introduced to the new financial programme "Transition to a Green Economy" presented by the EBRD, as well as to the trends towards a circular and low-carbon economy in Europe, presented by James Drinkwater- Director of the European Network of the World Green Building Council, who stressed that the European Commission is giving more and more responsibility to Green Building Councils to help the market make the necessary transition in the buildings sector. The new EBRD programme provides funding of approximately €15 billion, which aims to stimulate a low-carbon economy by investing in sustainable projects. Experts in the tourism, real estate and climate change sectors from the EBRD's London head office, Alexander Khadzhijivanov and Ruslan Shopov, presented information on the programme and the technical expertise the Bank offers.
The Sofia context was set by Elitsa Panayotova, Coordinator of the Green Sofia Project, who talked about the different initiatives and objectives of the Sofia Municipality, seeking to build a comprehensive strategy for sustainable development and apply for the prestigious European Commission Green Capital of Europe Award. Panayotova underlined that Sofia is a suitable candidate as the aim of the competition is to mobilise cities with serious challenges to prepare a concept covering 12 different indicators for sustainable development.
A successful Bulgarian example of a Green Economy Transition project was presented by Dobrin Staykov - Managing Director of AG Capital, who showed the different advantages of the Polygraphia Office Center, in the process of certification under the American LEED system. Alexander Tanev, Operations Director - Polygraphy Office Center, gave examples of the challenges and added value that the certification process brings to the existing part of the office center.
During the discussion panel that followed, the benefits of sustainable buildings were discussed, as well as the development of this sector of real estate in the country. Participants included Iglika Yordanova - Director of Colliers Bulgaria, Ivan Velkov - Deputy Chairman of Sofia Municipal Council, Ruslan Shopov, Alexander Tanev and James Drinkwater. The discussion was moderated by Vesela Valcheva-McGee. Although according to the participants the market seeks and prefers buildings with proven sustainable characteristics and certificates, the lack of government regulation slows down the mass implementation of green projects.
Panelists and guests agreed that there is still a lot of work to be done on market transformation and successful, constructive sustainable development in our country, but the prerequisites are there. With progressive funding mechanisms, interest from local and state government, availability of expertise and demand from business, sustainable construction of new facilities, as well as sustainable redevelopment of existing ones, is a matter of improved cross-sector collaboration, open dialogue and cooperation.