This is the story of our brand-new office building. Apart from the fact that it’s the home of the Creatopy team, it’s also an impressive facility.
Why is that?
Because we built it extraordinarily.
Since sustainability is a principle we strongly believe in, we decided to build a passive building for our office, made entirely of wood, using cross-laminated timber.
The end result is a low-energy building with a reduced ecological footprint and a beautiful design that integrates perfectly in the surrounding hills-dominated landscape:
We started thinking about creating a new office space back in 2019 when it turned out that our then-building could no longer house our team, which expanded exponentially. We needed a new home, so when initiating this project, we had deep consideration of the impact on the environment the average office building leaves.
That’s why a wooden construction was the obvious choice for us—more specifically, a cross-laminated timber building. We strongly believe that the fight against climate change should be on everyone’s agenda in today’s reality.
Buildings have an undeniably strong impact on the environment, as almost 40% of energy-and process-related emissions come from buildings. According to recent studies, more than a third of total energy and CO2 emissions result directly from the way the building sector works in developed and developing nations.
Needless to say, buildings play a huge role in decreasing the inhabitants’ quality of life, and poor building design and lack of sustainability consideration in urbanization are issues that we are all facing; that’s why we all need to start building for the future.
However, the good news is that there are several international initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in the building industry, such as the recently implemented NZEB (nearly zero energy buildings) legislation in the European Union. Among the proposed action plans are to restrict energy use, adopt low carbon technologies, conduct impact assessments and impose new global standards and policies to harness environmental consciousness.
Our CEO and Founder, Gabriel Ciordas, is fascinated with CLT constructions and the technology behind them: this was the starting point of our new office building journey.
”I knew I wanted to create an office building made of wood, using cross-laminated timber, that would first and foremost be environmentally friendly; I also had my team’s wellbeing in mind, because I think it’s one of the healthiest offices you can possibly work in.”
— Gabriel Ciordas, Founder & CEO at Creatopy
He and the building-to-be project manager reached out to an innovative engineer, who was in charge of several similar constructions and invited him over for consultations. That’s how we learned all there was to know about passive buildings and the vast benefits they convey. Therefore, the project started to come to fruition.
Soon after, our team reached out to a local architect team and told them about their dream of making a sustainable building the home of Creatopy. Next, the architects rose to the challenge, and after conducting various internal surveys with some of our team members, they came up with a complex design that integrated perfectly into the hills-dominated landscape while adjusting to our particular needs and specifications.
“Our building is developed on three platforms, the level differences being a natural response to the slope of the land which justifies our minimal intervention on the land, a non-invasive approach that helps animate and revitalizes the building both inside and outside.”
— Ar. Mădălina Mihălceanu, Vertical Studio
- It’s the largest CLT (Cross-Laminated Timber), and the only Low-Energy certified office building in Romania and Eastern Europe; it measures nearly 2,400 square meters.
- It consumes seven times less energy than a similar building made of bricks and concrete.
- It is powered by electricity, and by using this type of energy source, we save up to 12 tons of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year, just to be heated in the cold season.
- The foundation contains more than 2,000 cubic meters of recycled foam glass.
- We saved 1600 kg of Carbon dioxide per cubic meter by using a wood structure instead of a frame made of concrete and brickwork, which leads to a total of 1424 tons of Carbon dioxide saved in the entire building process.
- In total, we used 890 cubic meters of wood, which translates into 490 full-grown trees—fir and spruce—which means 1,96 trees per user: the building can host up to 250 people.
- The CLT structure comprises 819 prefab panels made in Austria, with widths from 120 mm to 280 mm, designed to the smallest detail on a computer. The entire duration of these panes’ production was four days; they were transported to Romania in 25 trucks.
- The design of the building started in March 2019; execution began in July 2019.
- The assemblage of the CLT structure was done in 44 days, using a team of ten people, and the entire building, from start to finish, was ready in less than one year—that’s 2.5 faster than a regular building.
To build a wooden construction is an environmentally beneficial act because of the following aspects: they are fast to make (compared to masonry buildings), have a low energy demand, and clean energy production.
The philosophy behind the passive houses focuses on two fundamental aspects:
Reducing the Energy Consumption
The first one refers to reducing the energy consumption necessary to maintain comfort conditions up to 90%, especially regarding the cooling and heating energy, which is two-three times lower than the required electric energy in classical buildings.
Since most buildings burn fossil fuels to keep warm—mainly methane, the world’s annual fuel consumption to heat these buildings is almost twice as big as the overall quantity of energy used by all the cars, airplanes, and boats put together.
By building in the passive house standard, you significantly reduce the impact on the environment; it also makes it possible that these buildings function on renewable energy.
The second aspect is related to the increase in the degree of comfort in the building. We all know and feel that, throughout the year, comfort may vary—in the winter, it can get too cold, draughty, or moldy—and in the summer, it can get too hot and too humid.
A passive building has a ‘skin’, or a ‘shell’—which is a homogeneous thermal protection layer. The cold outside air does not enter the house uncontrollably, and neither does the warm air leave the house, which significantly reduces the sensation of air currents; it also eliminates the risk of forming mold on the walls.
Altogether, the thermal comfort is high, and the internal temperature is constant. Since the people who benefit from this building have a desk job, the body is susceptible to physical stress factors, impacting performance.
The Difference Between Passive House and Low- Energy
Creatopy’s office is a certified Low-Energy Building, the second next to Passive House Standard—they are identical in principles. Still, this standard is more permissive to specific values, for cases in which the building’s climate and shape cannot sustain all values of the Passive House Standard.
The concept of ‘Passivehaus’ was co-developed by Professors Bo Adamson of Lund University, Sweden, and Wolfgang Feist of the Institut für Wohnen und Umwelt (Institute for Housing and the Environment) in 1988 in Germany. It describes a way of designing a building and enabling it to use between 77 and 84% less energy for space heating when compared to similar size houses simply conforming to standard Northern European building code.
The background story for this concept was the shortage in the fuel business, which affected the construction business too, forcing builders to find new and innovative ways of building homes that used very little or no energy. That later translated into more and more people becoming interested in building houses with a small—or zero impact on the environment, turning into a cultural phenomenon.
The construction industry begins to find new ways of building passive houses, and CLT—cross-laminated timber is an industry favorite. CLT is a subtype of engineered wood, created by researcher Gerhard Schickhofer in the ’90s in Austria, and is a wood panel product made from gluing together layers of solid-sawn lumber.
CLT is just one of several types of timber used in construction; others include laminated veneer lumber (LVL), nail-laminated timber (NLT), and dowel-laminated timber (DLT).
Nowadays, passive wooden buildings are gaining popularity, with architects and designers returning to cross-laminated timber because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also cutting on costs. It is a new technology using a timeless construction material, but the improved technology is starting to gain traction worldwide.
At the G8 meeting in 2009 to discuss global emission cuts, the group set the target to reduce global emissions by 80% by 2050. Since buildings are responsible for more than 40% of the amount, it’s clear that the building industry will have to adapt to the new reality: to become more innovative and wise when it comes to the long-term effect of its products.
Passive buildings are an excellent alternative to conventional constructions since their energy savings equal emissions reductions. With the current situation of shortening non-renewable resources, they are an investment in the future.
Back to our low-energy building, this initiative is only the beginning.
“In creating this new home for us, we wanted to inspire other businesses to do the same—to choose sustainability over short-term gains because saving our planet has to be a joint effort. Our buildings will outlast us, and the decisions we make in the present will influence the planet we leave to our future generations.”
— Gabriel Ciordas, Founder & CEO at Creatopy
We need to revolutionize how we build and make good use of technological breakthroughs and be aware of the impact we all have on the environment. Our part is substantial, and it cannot be overlooked. The future will be fantastic, only if we start acting now, together.
- Architecture: Vertical Studio – ar. Mădălina Mihălceanu, ar. Gabriel Bulea-Chiș, intern ar. Florin Nan-Moisa
- Structure: Inginerie Creativă – eng. Marius Șoflete, eng. Octavian Timu, eng. Cătălin Caraza
- Low-Energy Building for passive house designs (calculations): eng. Marius Șoflete
- Low-Energy Building Certification: ar. Dragoș Arnăutu from dr. Wolfgang Feist Passive House Institute
- Appliances: Terax Engineering – eng. Gabriel Dincuță and Eurocad Instal – eng. Raul Barstan
- General Contractor: Bejona Construct
- Assemblage of CLT, thermowood facade and impermeability: General Pro Construct
- Roof hydroisolation: Kontil
- General appliances execution: Terax Engineering
- Windows: ZetPlast
- Electrical systems: DHElectric System
- Fire extinguishing systems: Minela Exim
- The internal team that handled the entire project:
- Project Manager: George Micloș
- Worksite supervisor: Ervin Kabai
- Legal Advisor: Csaba Szucs
Thank you all. We are truly grateful for your contribution to our project!