In order to respond to the environmental challenges we face, the building sector has stepped up and has responded with an increase in green or environmentally sustainable buildings. In the current market, there are many systems that assess the environmental conditions of buildings and that, for those that meet certain criteria, make them eligible for recognition through certification. Some of these certifications are well known, for example, LEED (United States), BREEAM (United Kingdom), VERDE (Spain) and DGNB (Germany).
Certification systems evaluate different characteristics and grant various seals. Some systems assess the entire life cycle of the building, others place more emphasis on aspects related to bioclimatic design or building environment, while others also weigh in users’ means of transportation or proximity to public transport. Although it should not be necessary to certify a building to incorporate environmentally responsible measures, these systems ensure an objective mechanism to measure and evaluate the building’s consumption of resources.
When it comes to public sector buildings or low-income housing, the reality of the countries in the region is very different from that of developed countries, and therefore, international certification systems can be somewhat difficult to comply with or expensive to obtain. However, the good news is that in the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) market there are many options currently available.
In 2012, the World Bank Group, through the International Finance Corporation, created EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies). EDGE is a building certification system designed exclusively for emerging countries, which includes different types of buildings. It is currently present in all LAC countries. Since 2019, the IDB has been supporting the training of hundreds of professionals so that they can become EDGE experts in countries such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
It should also be noted that local public and private certification systems have been emerging in LAC, which have great potential to be applied more widely. These certification systems aim to raise construction standards and motivate professionals to incorporate environmentally friendly measures.
In November 2019, the IDB organized a workshop on Health Infrastructure Planning and Design, where it brought together professionals from the public sector infrastructure area from most of its member countries. In this event, two experiences from the region were presented, which are summarized below:
- EDIF Seal – Brazil
After creating a sustainability toolkit for new public building projects in São Paulo, the Municipality launched its own certification system in 2018, in order to motivate its own project teams to increasingly incorporate more rational practices of the use of resources in construction. Led by the Department of Buildings, the EDIF Seal focuses on the evaluation of 5 aspects of the life cycle of a project:
- Project development through an integrated and interactive process
- Incorporation of environmental criteria during planning and execution (i.e. terrain, transportation infrastructure)
- Energy efficiency
- Rational use of water
- Waste management during implementation
The certification system defines some minimum mandatory actions and some optional ones, to which points are assigned. Four certification categories can be obtained: Basic, Intermediate, Superior and Premium.
- CES Seal – Chile
The Sustainable Building Certification Seal was a joint initiative of several public and private entities in 2014. This system focuses on the entire life cycle of the building, from commissioning and preliminary design to operation and maintenance. The aspects analyzed are:
- Reduction of energy demand (passive design, energy efficiency, power generation, emissions)
- Quality of indoor environment for users
- Demand and supply approach for a rational use of water
- Waste management plan during the design, construction and operation of the building
- Management of the building design (integrated design) and operation
The certification system dehafines three certification categories: Certified Building, Outstanding Certification and Excellent Certification. As of the end of 2019, there were 40 certified buildings in Chile, and a total of 294 buildings in the process of certification.
These examples are simply two initiatives, one that arises from the public sector and the other that arises from an alliance between the public and private sectors and the academia. There are other initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean such as Procel EDIFICA in Brazil and CASA Colombia in Colombia that should be explored and studied.
Do you know of any other similar initiatives in the region?
Photo copyright: Scott Webb – Pexels.com
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