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All green things come to those who wait

The Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ASBC) has awarded Helvetia Vienna the “blueCARD” quality seal, certifying the highest building standards at the Head Office in sustainability and functionality terms. It is one of just three historic buildings in Austria to be honoured with the seal.

18 October 2017, author: Katharina Wildauer, photos: ÖGNI / Martinez-Flener

The blueCARD from the Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ASBC) is an award that evaluates buildings comprehensively with respect to sustainability. The quality seal provides information about the extent to which properties are intelligently, efficiently and sustainably used. blueCARD properties not only have to be resource conserving, energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but must also be in keeping with their sociocultural environment and be healthy for users. The Helvetia Head Office in Vienna is one of three historic buildings out of a total of 19 buildings to be honoured in Austria.

Thomas Neusiedler, Non-Life Executive Board member, is delighted with the award: “Future-oriented actions are among the core competences of an insurance company. In our view, ecological management in harmony with the environment and society is not only our entrepreneurial responsibility but also a profession of our commitment to promoting wellbeing among our employees, customers and partners.” In recent years Helvetia has made targeted investments in energy efficiency and sustainability: for instance, the Head Office now relies entirely on electricity from natural power, energy-saving LED lighting and solar energy from our own photovoltaic system. Gerald Sabath is in charge of operational environmental management and was also responsible for the ASBC certification process.

Modern award for a historic building

Since the Helvetia Head Office with the historic Ankeruhr clock was opened back in 1914, the certification process was a particular challenge. Over 100 years ago, requirements in terms of buildings were in many respects different to today. Demands in terms of fire protection and evacuation routes have changed considerably, and back then there were no guidelines on disability access or change-of-use specifications. Moreover, IT systems, air conditioning, or occupational health and safety did not exist in the form familiar today at the start of the last century.

“When historic buildings are evaluated using current sustainability benchmarks, it naturally poses a huge challenge for all concerned,” explains Siegfried Sotular from energieeffizienz GmbH, who supported the certification process for Helvetia as an ASBC expert. “The blueCARD evaluation system is very specific and leaves no room for interpretation,” continues Sotular. The Helvetia Head Office is the third historic building in Austria to be awarded the blueCARD.

Properties in harmony with the environment

The Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ASBC) is an independent association that aims to promote the sustainable planning, building and management of properties in Austria. The aim of sustainability in existing buildings is to create environmentally friendly, resource-conserving, economical and social living spaces that enhance the wellbeing and performance of users.

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