Special Report: Reporting from Expo Real

As exhibitors settled in at their stands and activated their metaphorical networking switches, Day 2 at Expo Real 2012 International Trade Fair for Commercial Property and Investment, held at München International in Munich, Germany, began.

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor

Munich, Germany—As exhibitors settled in at their stands and activated their metaphorical networking switches, Day 2 at Expo Real 2012 International Trade Fair for Commercial Property and Investment, held at München International in Munich, Germany, began. In Hall A2, as fresh graduates and young aspiring professionals attended Career Day, the stage was being set for the greenest event of the day: The 3rd Sustainable Investment Conference.

Organized by Union Investment, one of the leading real estate investment companies in Europe, with around 20 billion euros of assets under management, the conference focused on introducing the best practices and forward-looking investment policies. Moderated by TV journalist Mishal Husain, the conference kicked off with a keynote speech: “Beyond Sustainability—The New Concept of Quality” from Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart of Erasmus University of Rotterdam, University of Twente and Luneburg, as well as co-founder of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry in Charlottesville, Va. The conference continued with discussions on various topics such as trends, strategies and challenges in moving from green buildings to green portfolio management and strategies for involving users and service providers. An array of leading experts in sustainability participated, such as: Tatiana Bosteels, head of responsible property investment, Hermes Real Estate, London; Mark Creamer, head of valuation and advisory services, CBRE, London; Dr. Reinhard Kutscher, chairman of the management board, Union Investment Real Estate GmbH, Hamburg; Dr. Heiko Beck, chief operating officer, Union Investment Real Estate GmbH, Hamburg.

The event concluded with the anticipated 2012 Prime Property Award, which has gained a reputation as the real estate equivalent of the Oscars. The 2012 competition attracted an impressive 160 entries showcasing properties in 19 European countries. A 10-man jury, which initially narrowed down the entries to 15-best ranked sustainable real estate investments in Europe, chose this year’s winners. The winners include:

First Place—ThyssenKrupp Quarter in Essen, a 19,360-square-meter (208,000-square-foot) office complex developed on a former industrial site. The ensemble is also the heart of a new high-density urban district, which features extensive and accessible public spaces. Dr. Frank Billand, jury member, characterized the design as “Iconic headquarters architecture. The innovative shading elements are key architectural features of this striking ensemble and will influence energy-efficient solar shading design around the world.”

Second Place—Kaufhaus Tyrol department store in Innsbruck, a 32,825-square-meter (353,000-square-foot) retail property, which showcased commitment to sustainable practices, while also paying close attention to the urban planning aspects. The standout feature is the extensive use of water from the river Inn and the innovative low energy concept. Award recipient: Signa Prime Holding AG; Architects: David Chipperfield Architects.

Third Place—Kungsbrohuset in Stockholm, an office building that generates its energy in a very ingenious way: by harvesting the body heat of the approximately 200,000 people who pass through Stockholm’s adjacent main railway station every day. The energy is used to heat water, which ultimately maintains a constant 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the 30,000-square-meter (323,000-square-foot) building. Award recipient: Swedish investor Jernhusen AB; Architects: Strategisk Arkitektur.

In an exclusive interview for Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News, Olaf Drehsen of JSWD Architekten and Walter Grasmug of Chaix & Morel et associés revealed that the award comes after 10 years of collaboration between the two architecture companies on various projects, time in which they have won many awards, but the Prime Property Award received today is the most special one as it has brought the top laurels for the first completed project by the duo. The stand-out elements which grabbed the win of the coveted award, in Walter Grasmug’s opinion, were the circa 400,000 horizontal louvres, which track the position of the sun and make an important contribution to reaching energy values of 136.9 kWh/square-meter/per annum.

In addition to the three main prizes, the international experts also awarded a special prize to Norwegian investor Inspiria Eiendom AS for the Inspiria Science Center in Graalum, Norway. Designed by AART architects A/S, the science center utilizes exciting experiments and interactive exhibits to offer information on renewable energy and waste avoidance to around 200,000 schoolchildren a year.

The positive vibe generated by the Sustainable Investment Conference and the Prime Property Award, continued throughout the afternoon and was sustained via forums such as “Let’s talk logistics,” “Intelligent Urbanization: Sustainable Urban Development—Chances and Challenges” and “Talking Real Estate—Finance.”

As the afternoon progressed and the attendants continued their interaction, the focus and discussions, at one point or another, shifted towards the John Jacob Astor Competition. Expo Real, in the spirit of John Jacob Astor, the results-oriented real estate tycoon who was associated with some of the most innovative real estate projects, such as his hotels, which were the first in the world to feature running water, was set to crown the most extraordinary contemporary commercial real estate project.

The prize ceremony was held in the Networking Lounge, a fitting venue, as the winner was decided via public voting and implicitly also showcased a mastering in social media networking. In the presence of an expert public and Eugen Egetenmeir, Messe Munchen’s managing director, the winner was announced: the Hilton Inn Hotel at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey, with a record 23,240 votes. Located in one of the oldest and most valuable residential areas of Istanbul, the 210-room hotel is the first project in Turkey to achieve the LEED Gold certification and one of only 50 hotels worldwide to obtain this honor. Developed by Amplio Real Estate Investments, the luxurious 3,285-square-meter (35,000-square-foot) hotel showcases multiple sustainability features such as rooftop solar panels, which manage to provide 40 percent energy savings.

As the John Jacob Astor prize-giving ceremony concluded and the day drew to a close, the atmosphere relaxed and Expo Real successfully transposed its motto, “Building Networks,” from a literary statement to a social reality within the grounds of Messe München International as attendants indulged in a glass of German beer to top off a successful day.

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