Sustainable structures

Leitura de 7min

Brazil achieves prominence in the world ranking of LEED developments – certification that recognizes the implementation of environmental preservation measures – and now seeks to raise awareness among owners of existing buildings about the importance of adopting these initiatives.

Energy efficiency, the rational use of water and the application of environmentally correct materials, technologies and resources: these are all processes that just a few years ago never figured in Brazil, but which today are very much in evidence. Initiatives to minimize environmental impacts have been widely adopted by the Brazilian real estate sector. One of the clearest indications of this came with the data released recently by the Green Building Council Brasil – a non-governmental organization that aims to encourage the sustainable construction industry in the country. Council data showed that 32 buildings received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in 2012, almost double the 17 that were so recognized in 2011. Further good news is that 620 developments are now registered with the LEED system and will receive certification if and when they demonstrated that they meet the above-mentioned criteria.

For those who are not yet familiar with LEED – the system was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and is currently the world’s leading certificate of international recognition and environmental standards for buildings. Adopted in 130 countries, LEED certification offers a series of advantages, for example reduced operating costs (water and energy), improved interior quality (with the increased use of natural lighting and reduced use of air conditioning), enhanced property value, and recognition in the market.

Energy consumption is 30% lower and there’s also a reduction of up to 50% in water consumption and up to 80% in waste, with the property’s resale value rising by between 10% and 20% and operating costs for the development falling by an average of 9%,” said Manoel Gameiro, president of the Green Building Council Brasil.

The progress Brazil has made in this area place the country fourth in the world ranking of LEED developments, behind only the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates.

Green strategies

Since the emergence of green buildings a decade or more ago, our understanding of sustainable construction and building management has evolved quite significantly,” said Franz Jenowein, Director – Global Sustainability Perspective at the U.S. head office of JLL, in the most recent Global Sustainability Perspective report published by the company. The report emphasizes that most commercial property owners who invested in green strategies in 2011 did so without seeking financing and were encouraged to take such action by the fact that energy and sustainability programs would contribute to the bottom line, while at the same time offering environmental benefits.

Owners opted for modestly-priced projects such as upgrading part of the lighting and temperature control systems; they want to be certain before starting that every cent they spend will bring a positive return, not just in terms of energy saving but also for the value of the property,” said Dan Probst, Chairman, Energy & Sustainability Services at the U.S. head office of JLL, in the same report.

Cultural question

Things are much the same in Brazil. The number of LEED certifications is encouraging, but these are still restricted to new developments. This shows that some owners and occupants in Brazil are aware of the importance of a sustainable structure, and of the competitive differential that this can offer. For Frederico Vasconcellos, director of Engineering Services at JLL, the delay in introducing this concept into existing buildings is basically due to cultural questions. “Owners need to realize that the market looks favorably on LEED certification; it constitutes a differential and is without doubt an investment that offers a return,” Vasconcellos said, noting that cuts in budgetary expenditures can be achieved via the implementation of sustainable solutions. “The client already sees that question as an advantage, within operational costs.”

However, many occupants are already concerned about the subject, given that sustainability initiatives are part of their organizational culture. “It’s important to bear in mind that many companies now have an internal Sustainability area and want to have infrastructure that corresponds to this fact,” Vasconcellos said, observing that the market today offers various products – for example lights, sensors, remote control systems for air conditions, and others – at a reduced cost, which simplifies their gradual implementation.

The real estate sector in Brazil has been outstanding for the great increase in sustainable constructions. Today all the waste from a construction can be reused; sustainability has conquered the country and is one of the main tendencies for the future of existing buildings,” he said.

Andrea Assis, Infrastructure manager within the Property Management area at JLL, said that buildings located in São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista and Faria Lima regions are prime candidates for application of LEED initiatives. This will gradually spread to a great number of properties. “We already have one existing building with LEED certification on our client list, in the Alphaville (SP) region – but this is just the start,” Assis said.