Do "Green" Offices Have Future in Belarus?


On September 4, 2014, we held a workshop Green Offices as a part of four SI alumni events in Minsk under the support ofthe Swedish Institute in partnership with the Belarusian State University and the Association of European Businesses (AEB) during the European Intercultural Festival.The workshop Green Offices, which was organized by Maryna Barouka, Ph.D.,associate professor of BSU, Deputy Chairman of the AEB, and Liudmila Fakeyeva, Ph.D., associate professor of BSU, brought together business, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to discuss how to make offices more environmentally friendly and economical. British American Tobacco, a member of the AEB, Phillips-Belarus, Office for Democratic Belarus and the International Public Association “Ecoproject “Partnership” were partners and experts to the workshop.

The workshop started with the tour to the store 5 Elemen, where a systemof efficient energy-saving technologies on the basis of LED lamps instead of the conventional raster fixtures was introduced. Maxim Podkolzin, lighting manager, Philips Belarus, explained that Belarusiancompanies are reluctant to install LED lighting on their premises. Yes, eventually they save a lot but it requires an initial investment, whereas everyone wants to save right now.

During the seminar,experts shared their vision of how to solve problems while creating “green” offices. Igor Chulba, the environmental coordinator of UNDP projects in Belarus, shared some tricks on how to reduce the environmental “footprint” in the office. All measures can be divided into two categories - behavioral (soft) and real (hard) ones. Behavioral measures include signs reminding to turn the light or unused equipment off, encouraging using public transport and bicycles, electronic documents, teleconferencing, informing the employees, giving bonuses for the employees who have made the greatest contribution. Events of the second category often require a significant investment of resources - installation of energy-efficient lamps, lights with motion detectors, water and energy meters, solar panels, painting walls in bright colors, using hybrid vehicles, etc.

Svetlana Belyaeva, environmental protection and security manager, British American Tobacco, spoke about the environmental initiatives that are being put forward and implemented in the offices of British American Tobacco worldwide.

Irina Lastovka, project manager, "Ecoproject "Partnership", has caused heated debates among the participants about whether to create a voluntary certification system “Green Office” in Belarus for the companies that care about the environment.

Vadim Zubritskiy, thematic coordinator on the treatment of municipal solid waste, UNDP/EU 2011-2014 Project, shared practical experience of waste management in the office and spoke about possible problems.

The workshop Green Offices, which was held in Minsk for the first time, caused genuine interest from commercial companies. “The Association of European Business will seek to promote the experience of “green” solutions used by the AEB member companies. We ask all European companies doing business in Belarus to use our platform to share their experience in implementation of environmentally friendly solutions. We hope that this workshop will be the first in a series of seminars on innovative approaches in management, with the support of the Swedish Institute and the business,” summed up Maryna Barouka,Deputy Chairman of the AEB.