SOFIA, BULGARIA-Commercial real estate professionals and government officials are pushing aggressively to implement green building standards in new construction throughout Bulgaria, according to Colliers International, which recently sponsored a cross-border conference here to assess sustainable development trends in Central and Eastern European. The event attracted several hundred attendees, including senior corporate figures from both Bulgarian and multinational companies angling to do business in the emerging country.

“It is necessary to build a common vision,” Colliers official Gergana Grancharova said in her remarks to the audience, adding she believes that the introduction of modern construction standards throughout Europe by 2011 will hasten the changes. Grancharova says environmental design tenets are being incorporated into those revisions to fulfill green goals. “The time is right for the Bulgarian real estate sector to focus on sustainable development,” she said.

Atanas Garov, managing director of Colliers International Bulgaria, said that proponents of green buildings in the country are not even waiting for the new guidelines to be in place to pursue such projects. “The development of a carbon-neutral project is already in progress in a resort on the Black Sea Coast,” reported Garov, who predicts that even more ventures will be launched through the end of the decade. The Colliers team is already gearing up to accommodate such initiatives, says Garov, who further promoted the concept in his presentation, “Sustainable Development Pays Off.”

In that overview, Garov insisted that green building leads to direct benefits for developers, asset managers and occupants alike. “If conceived and implemented professionally, the financial return on investment for such buildings could be recovered more than ten-fold,” Garov estimated. Other speakers on hand promoting that notion included representatives from BDSP Partnership Ltd., Environ and the Ferry Group, with each praising Bulgaria for leading the charge regionally to embrace sustainable construction. A similar message was delivered by the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

One reason for trying to get ahead of the guidelines, according to panelists, is that Bulgaria is already drawing new capital to upgrade the country’s commercial real estate stock. This year alone, the inventory of office space has increased by more than six million sf, Colliers reports, while another 33 million sf is in the pipeline. Industrial and retail activity has also been brisk, says Colliers.

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