Following our very productive and memorable visit to Perm, my colleagues and I headed to Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city and the political capital of the Ural Mountains. What an absolutely beautiful and intriguing city! While we spent much of our time in Perm with academics and researchers, we spent most of our time in Yekaterinburg with developers, engineers and tradespeople. We love being exposed to a variety of perspectives and our experiences and meetings give us insight as to how the healthy and high-performing building movement is being woven into each city.
Our host in Yekaterinburg was Alexey, a young, kind (and super-tall…we called him “Tall Alexey” since there were so many Alexeys!) engineer who works for RED (Real Estate Development) Group, a development, construction, and building management company. Our wonderful host from Perm, Elena Pleshkova, also joined us for this leg of the journey, along with Guy and Dmitry. We toured some historical sites and explored the city’s architecture. On our first day, Janel, Deanna, Tall Alexey, Elena, and I met with the director of the Union of Energy Efficiency, which is similar to a trade group in the U.S. The Union recommends changes to building codes, provides engineer training, and ensures quality control for energy audits. Another Alexey – Alexey Pirogov – joined us for the meeting, too. This Alexey, a chief engineer with RED Group, really impressed us with his insights into green building challenges and opportunities in Russia. While we met with the Union, Michael, Guy, and Dmitry met with the Guild of Ural Builders.
Tuesday was an amazing day…tour day! Several commercial buildings in Yekaterinburg are incorporating green building strategies and we got to see them up close. It was a really impressive experience and we saw many of the same practices we would see on one of Janel’s green building tours back home in Pittsburgh…and some things that were totally new to us! We took a hard hat tour of Iset Tower, a 53-floor mixed-use building in the city center. The building will include sub-metering, a compact HVAC system, green roofs, and smart systems so tenants and residents can view their usage. Radiant floors and operable windows are located throughout, even on the top floors. Our translator explained that Russians really like to open windows for fresh air, so it is very common to see operable windows even in skyscrapers. Next we toured BC Senat, a business center operated by RED Group. This beautiful structure won an energy efficiency award and was one of the city’s first examples of green, efficient buildings. It offers tons of natural daylight and views of the Iset River to nearly every inch of its space. We toured the boiler room, which Janel loved! And the building engineer showed us his computer system that displays all of the building energy and water use in real time. Janel was beside herself!
Finally, we headed to BC President, a huge tower in the city center used for office space and conferences, which also won an energy efficiency award. Here, we saw the same efficient elevator system used in Pittsburgh’s 11 Stanwix; a building monitoring system for ventilation, heating, cooling, and water use; the first electric vehicle charging station in the region; LED lighting throughout; and innovative blinds that allow for daylight exposure without glare. This highly coveted building includes tenants such as 3M, which I think shows that people recognize the higher quality of this type of building. Alexey Pirogov pointed out several times in our meetings and presentations that green buildings lead to higher employee comfort and productivity and cost savings. He also said that international companies demand green, efficient buildings so developers need to be able to offer them. The beautiful BC President showcases the high quality of space for building users. Following our tour, we made our way to the top level of BC President, where we participated in a green building conference for developers and builders. We met some great people, including an American construction project manager who is working on residential building in Yekaterinburg that will use passive design principles.
On Wednesday, Deanna, Janel, Tall Alexey, and I headed to the civil engineering department of Ural Federal University while Michael, Guy, and Dmitry met with the U.S. Consul and provided an online training for representatives in another nearby city. While at the university, Janel presented students with an overview of the LEED rating system while I presented information about green residential buildings and Deanna explained wind and solar energy. Then we all met with a local architect who is working on several healthy and high-performance building projects and a professor who is researching various methods of energy efficiency from different countries.