Affordable, Green Homes come to Bucharest

August 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Posted in General, Green Building Projects, News from Members | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

An update to a recent blog post on Avalon Homes based on a recent visit and site tour by the RoGBC’s Steven Borncamp and Timea Paal.

Ozone Homes’ project is on time and on budget to deliver the first phase of “Avalon”; affordable homes incorporating green features.   The project received a perfect score of 100 on the required energy audit due to innovative insulative products, use of natural cross flow ventilation and energy-efficient appliances.    Some other green features include low waste, precision construction techniques, sustainably forested wood products certified by FSC, locally produced Structural Insulating Panels utilizing rapeseed harvested in Romania and balustrade custom manufactured on site.

Some Photos!

Avalon project a couple of weeks from delivery

Ozone Homes CEO Andrew Prelea describing the construction process and features to RoGBC's Steven Borncamp

Sustainably Forested Wood frames

Hamburg – European Green Capital 2011

August 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

The European Green Capital award is a way of showcasing cities‘ achievements and encouraging to create greener living conditions.

In judging this “green competition” of the cities, the European Commission focused on the urban environment and sustainability for the future generations and established a scheme to reward cities.

The race for 2011 European Green Capital title was won by Hamburg.

Clean air, parks, pollution-free environment, high quality urban living and sustainable ideas!
I have been really impressed as a visitor!
Hamburg’s green features:

  • Hectares of woodland
  • Public parks
  • Water covers over 8% of urban area
  • Waterfront terraces and walkways offer pleasant open–air spaces for residents

  • Parks are linked with leisure and sport areas, playgrounds to make possible for people to travel on foot or by bicycle

  • Since July 2009, the StadtRAD bicycle scheme has developed a network of 71 stations around the city. (check the one in the picture below)
  • World’s largest fleet of Hydrogen-fuelled buses
  • Hamburg port wants to make its entire transport chain environmentally friendly

  • A network of rapid transit and regional rail services converge at the city centre
  • River Elbe ferry lines serve the needs of both commuters and visitors

  • New development and renovation of existing buildings aspire to high standards of sustainability for both homes and offices

In a beautiful summer day it was a pleasure to learn an important lesson about “sharing experiences, sharing best practices and sharing a vision of the future”.

Monica Zarnescu

The first LEED AP in Romania – Alinda Dudu from Epstein Engineering & Architecture

August 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Certification, Legislative Outreach, News from Members, Training | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

The first Romanian to get the LEED AP certification is Alinda Dudu, architect for Epstein Engineering & Architecture, one of the RoGBC founding members. This is quite an achievement! 

As published on the  Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) website  :

“The LEED AP exam is a four (4) hour, two (2) part exam designed to assess your understanding and knowledge of the LEED Rating System and your ability to facilitate the certification process. The first part of the exam, the LEED Green Associate section, is designed to measure your ability to understand and support green design, construction, and operations. The LEED Green Associate section is comprised of 100 randomly delivered multiple choice questions and must be completed in the first two hours of the exam appointment. The second part of the exam is the LEED AP specialty section. Each LEED AP specialty section is comprised of 100 randomly delivered multiple choice questions and must be completed in the second two hours of the exam appointment. Candidates must pass both sections to earn the LEED AP with specialty credential.Total seat time for the combined exam (both part 1: LEED Green Associate exam and part 2: the specialty exam) is 4 hours and 20 minutes including an optional tutorial and short satisfaction survey.”

According to Alinda, the exam wasn’t exactly simple. There were a lot of questions  that require calculations, and it was best to actually do the necessary arithmetics, not just to give an intuitive answer. It’s a very detailed exam, and some of the questions are tricky,so in order to  answer, one had to know the GBCI Handbook  and Glossary thoroughly. The exam is taken on the computer, but each applicant also gets some draft paper and a pen.

The are 8 types of LEED Professional Credentials, 6 of which are LEED AP : specialized as Building, Design + Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Interior Design & Construction, Homes, Neighborhood Development or LEED AP without specialty and enrollment. A shorter description would be that the Green Associate section is a more general certification, while the AP is much more specific. The maximum score for each of the two parts is 200 points, but in order to get the certification, a minimum of 170 is required. Alinda scored 191 for the GA and 192 for the AP Building, Design + Construction.

Alinda prepared for this test using a variety of methods. The GBCI website offers a lot of useful Resources for all the candidates.  From the Candidate Handbook, to the Glossary or  Chapter Toolkit , everything that an applicant needs to know about the exam is there.

The Application fee is $100, and the Exam taxes are, for the combined LEED GA+AP – $300 for USGBC Members and $450 for Non-members. For taking only the Specialty exam, the fee is $150 or $250, accordingly.

There is, however, an Eligibility requirement for the candidates : they “must have experience in the form of documented involvement on a project registered or certified for LEED”.

A good method of learning about the green building basics is the certification and training platform “Romania Green Building Professional” that started in 2010.  The training program was created in order to provide greater certainty of the abilities of professionals working in construction and related industries toward a sustainable built environment. The courses RoGBC organized in March: LEED 101 – Green Building basics, LEED 102 – Core Concepts and Strategies and in June  – BD+C 251: Understanding the Building Design + Construction  help a lot in understanding of the green building basics, and core concepts and strategies, but also give specific information about the Building Design + Construction LEED Rating Systems .  These LEED courses were valid for credit within the certification and training platform and they were taught by Ms. Vessela Valtcheva-McGee, Triple Green Building Group who has been an LEED AP since 2005.

Congratulations, Alinda !!!

The RoGBC team

ecoBiblioteca update -Project is taking shape!

August 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Certification, ecobiblioteca, Green Building Projects | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

Good news from Cacica! The construction process of ecoBiblioteca is advancing very quickly. Workers  are constantly digging, measuring, cutting or mounting something, all under the careful direction of  Site Manager PhD. Bogdan Draganescu of Smart&Pepper.

During my first  visit on site, last week,  the northern slope of the roof had been cleared of the asbestos layer and  the new roofing of shingles was starting to be mounted.    Half of the roof shingles on the northern side have been mounted over a period of just one day  by a team of very hard-working craftsmen from nearby.

The roof was extended with an overhang of 30 centimeters from the first rafter, in order to protect the walls from the rain, and a deck was added beneath for the same purposes. We’ve decided to salvage and reuse all the materials from the former storage room that was deconstructed and so most of the battens that support the shingles are pieces of wood from the old building’s roof that are given a new life.

And, by the way, the shingles are a local opportunity : most people in Cacica buy them in large quantities and keep them stored in the backyard for occasional roof replacements. Most of the time, the shingles just lay there, occupying precious space, so the locals were glad to get rid of them, selling them to the ecoBiblioteca team, who are always happy to promote traditional technologies. It’s a win-win situation!

But that isn’t the only thing the team has done last week. Foundation holes have been dug to support the future porch access area (also in the north). Due to the heavy and frequent rain characteristic to the area, the foundation can’t be made in just one  shot, so the workers dig it piece by piece, by a 1 meter distance between the sections. The holes are then filled with concrete and, after it dries, the next holes are dug and the process repeats until the foundation of the porch is ready.

There was more digging involved in the building’s existing foundation area, that needs to be insulated. The existing foundation is completely made of stone blocks. Due to its irregularities,  underground insulation can’t be attached, therefore the team had to obtain a plane surface by pouring about 7-10 centimeters of cement in front of the stones. On this vertical surface, the thermal insulation will be added.

Finding new uses for old things is important to the ecoBiblioteca team, so all of the material that came from the deconstruction of some parts of the building was separetely stored, in order to be reused locally. For instance, the mix of rubble and brick fragments will become part of the base of a local road, that the mayor is building, along with the 5 tonne of debris that used to be the building’s ceiling.

By the time this post was added, I received news of the ecoBiblioteca banner being installed on site. It’s a busy weekend for Cacica, with the upcoming pilgrimage to the Cathedral next to our site, related to Saint Mary on the 15th of August. Hope our project will also become one of the visitors’ interesting things to see here.

Glad to be a part of this team,

Arch.Luiza Hanc

Banca Nationala Romana prepares a green mortgage product

August 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Posted in Legislative Outreach | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

As we have advised our members in the past, the RoGBC has been very active in promoting a “green mortgage” product to the financial industry to dramatically improve the financial case for green building solutions.     This recent article and discussions with the BNR make us very optimistic we will have a very effective tool in helping homeowners get better quality homes and lower energy costs.     Our proposal to BNR and the banks is simple….consider treating scientifically proven monthly energy savings as equivalent to an increase in a person’s income when calculating available loan amounts.

For more information on our efforts, read the article below and check out a past RoGBC event blog post.

Translation of article from (–creditul-verde-17127.html )

BNR is getting ready to launch a new type of credit line: a green mortgage for energy efficient buildings. The National Bank of Romania has been approached for a long time by different investors who supported this proposal and according to specialists on the market this product should be ready in only a few months. The main advantage of a green mortgage consists of easier payment of the installments due to reduction of energy costs.

With a green mortgage, the client can afford to pay half of an installment extra.

The idea that a family cannot spend more than  a third of their income for the monthly installment determined The National Bank of Romania and the real estate developers to offer new financing solutions. Thus the idea of a green mortgage came up, initiated by the Romania Green Building Council. The pilot-project implies the existence of a consortium  between a bank, a real estate developer, client and an energy auditor. The bank will provide additional financing for  the energy efficiency features. Such a consortium creates a mechanism that allows for the energy efficiency savings to be transferred from the developer to the home buyers without any financial impact. The banks role is to allow the energy efficiency improvements to pay for themselves and to reduce both the initial financial risk of both the developer (who gains certainty of a market for the higher performing building) and the home buyer (whose upfront investment is minimized).

“To put it simple, if a family earns 500 euro/month, they can’t afford an installment higher than 150 euro/month. The main reason for this consists of high monthly expenses. They have to warm up during the winter or to cool down their dwelling during the summer. For a regular 2 room apartment, the utilities cost is as expensive as the installment or the rent is, more precisely it can get up to 150 euro/month. For a green building, utilities and  maintenance cost  should not exceed 75 euro.”, says Andrew Prelea, CEO Ozone Homes and member of Romania Green Building Council.

This being said, instead of being able to pay 150 euro to the bank, a client should be technically capable of paying 225 euro. The house becomes cheaper due to the difference made by energy savings and the client can pay more every month for buying a house, because saves him money on the long term. As a consequence it is possible to buy a better house and a sustainable one with the same income.

The green mortgage product can be a stimulating solution for the economy during the financial crisis

In case this plan is going to be successful, more and more developers will be more involved in high energy efficiency residential buildings. The banks are open to such a product as the European  trend is to strenghten the regulation regarding the energy performance.

“Of course, this kind of product implies a change in the banking policies. Romania Green Building Council has been working on this project for two-three years and we have a very positive feedback from BNR. They understand that changing the legislation is a must when times are changing. We are looking forward for an answer in the next few months.”,  continues Andrew Prelea.

However, as any pilot-program, this one has its risks. The first main issue might be the lack of demand, on one side because of the economic environment and on the other side because of the new products skepticism. Also, the energy savings can be over evaluated by the energy auditors. When the loan is contracted, the client doesn’t know for sure how good the performance of the devices is. The equipments and the selected materials play an important role. A far away risk is the fall of the energy price, but at the moment where the oil price is constantly rising, this perspective seems to be unlikely. The advantages of such program working properly are generating energy for the whole economy.

“We need legislative  changes with a positive impact. Introducing a change without a negative impact as the green mortgage is, it helps the government. Moreover, it encourages other constructors to build green, because it is cheaper. This system will encourage more people to contract loans, which will stimulate the banking system, will increase the productivity, construction market, and all these together will give a boost to the economy” (Andrew Prelea)

Read the entire article in Romanian here.

LEED testing location in Bucharest

August 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Posted in Certification | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Vessela Valtcheva-McGee, LEED AP, RoGBC’s trainer for our previous LEED courses organized on:

just informed us that the Green Building Certification Institute and Prometric testing centers released on their website an aplication that allows those interested where you can take the LEED exams in Romania.

Go to the link:   select Green Building Certification Institute from the list of Step 1: Select a testing program, then Romania from Step 2: Select your region. This will lead you to a screen where you can either schedule an exam or locate a test site and from there you will be directed to the address.

The address of the testing center is:


Good luck to everyone!

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.