GREEN BUILDINGS - LEED CERTIFICATION: FUTURE EXPERIENCES AND OPPORTUNITIES

April 30, 2014

With the passing of time, it has become more popular to incorporate steps in the design and construction of buildings in favor of the environmental sustainability in which it is established. In our region, the LEED Certification becomes more sought after, especially in office buildings and commercial spaces.
Northern California was the birthplace for developing the system of certifying buildings over more than 15 years ago, and till today, it is estimated that more than one billion square meters of construction bears the LEED Certification.
Actually, Panama has 49 non-confidential projects registered in the GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute, a certification entity established in Washington, DC), and 9 of them are already certified with categories from “Certified” to “Platinum” that are granted based on the number of points earned by the project documentation presented in its stages of design and construction.
Of these 9 certified projects, CBRE|Panama has managed the documentation and certification process of 3 of them:
The new APEDE (Panamanian Association of Business Executives) headquarters in Bella Vista obtained the LEED Certification for New Constructions v2.2 and earned the “Certified” level in the certification’s categories. This project was the second one to be certified in Panama, after the Embassy of the United States. Since the beginning of its operations in 2010, savings of around 17% have been registered in energy systems and 35% in water consumption.
The branches of Banco General in the City of Knowledge (in the Business Plaza of the City of Knowledge) and Clayton (at the access way to the Embassy Club residences), were certified LEED Gold in the LEED category for the Interior of Commercial Spaces. Since the beginning of its operations in 2013, Banco General City of Knowledge and Clayton have shown savings in energy in their systems close to 17% and 33%, respectively, and savings in water consumption close to 36% for both branches.
The savings previously mentioned have been calculated in comparison with base lines such as ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (for energy systems), and the Uniform Plumbing Code and the International Plumbing Code of the United States. Complying with these base lines as such already represents a “high bar” to meet for those projects. Surpassing these percentages really indicates a major effort carried out by the teams of each one of them and makes them comparable only to other LEED Certified projects in Panama.

Savings in water and energy have been mentioned only as examples of the tangible benefits that are included behind the certification seal. Many others, such as Interior Air Quality that produces less absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses benefit the company with greater productivity, are among the advantages for choosing the LEED option.
Actually, CBRE|Panama manages and accompanies 9 projects that are in addition to the ones previously mentioned that are in the process of certification in the categories of Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell and New Construction. Some of these are already in the final stages of being reviewed in order to obtain their certification.
Throughout the years of experience in project certifications, as part of the LEED Consultants team, it is notable that every time there is a greater acceptance and welcoming to the parameters of these efficient buildings during the design phase as well as under construction.
With the 4th version of the certification, greater challenges and improvement opportunities are shown in the “options menus” of LEED credits, which will allow future users to have buildings with the highest levels of efficiency and comfort, at the same time favoring the environment and the neighboring community.
National institutions and legislations, such as the Secretariat of Energy and the Energy Efficiency Law 69, support these kinds of initiatives and bring up the possibility of future exemptions and incentives to provide a greater acceptance for these projects, not necessarily for the purpose of certifying under a specific seal, but for the growth of sustainability and to benefit the planet. These are actions that future generations will thank us for.

Others News