January 10, 2013
If there is something that we can say for sure is that in the last years there has been an exponential increase in the use of terms such as, global warming, sustainable growth, environmentalism, power efficiency, etc.
This is a worldwide phenomenon. But it was not until recently that a definition was included in the dictionary of theSpanishRoyalAcademyfor the word environmentalist. In a world of limited natural resources, the concept of sustainable growth is showing up in the agenda of private and public companies around the world. You can feel the “green” movement is a huge wave. Within such movement, there is the possibility of occupying work, living, public and social spaces to reduce the harm to the environment and its inhabitants, from design, to construction and operation.
These buildings are known as green buildings. In countries such as Panama, buildings contribute more than 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions.
To guarantee that green buildings comply with specific development regulations, there are several international certifications that can be obtained.
InAustralia, the certification is called Green Star; inEurope, the Breeam (Building Research Establishment´s Environmental Assessment Method). These are international norms and may be obtained by any country provided that it complies with the parameters they establish. InPanama, the most common one is Leed and to this date, there is only one building so certified: the Embassy of theUnited States. There are over 20 projects in the process of being certified.
In the past 2 years, I have had the opportunity of participating in the development of an important green building. A building whose water consumption, power efficiency, clean construction methods and health of end users have been seriously considered from the start of the design and will continue to be important until its operation. This is required by the certification level given to the project (Leed Gold) where a rigorous process of documentation, inspection and functioning of the building is followed.
I haven’t the slightest doubt that a building certified as green is more energy efficient, less polluting during construction, and provides better work/living spaces to its users. Soon, the market, consumers and others will be demanding green buildings.
Other countries offer real long term tax, market and economic incentives, for the development of a green building.Panama, with all its skyscrapers, is just at the gate of this movement. Benefits can barely be savored. Local professionals need to prepare to face and take advantage of this movement, thus contributing to a sustainable national development.