LEED Certified projects in the region continue to increase. Especially the residential sector shows significant growth.
by Nicolette Bohnett*
A recent study by the Colombian Council for Sustainable Construction (CCCS) confirmed that LEED works for Latin America with statistical certainty.
This study reveals that the additional cost of LEED in Latin America today is less than 1.5% on average. And with experience and scale, the additional cost is reduced to zero. Integrative design and careful planning mean a better and more profitable building with a return on investment in less than a year. Lower operating costs, improved occupant health and well-being, and increased profitability were the main benefits identified in achieving LEED in Latin America.
Today, Latin America has more than 2,100 LEED projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela – 19 of the 21 latin American nations.
The first project in almost every country is a commercial or indoor office building, and this remains the dominant LEED project type in the region. However, almost all countries have LEED projects for the retail sector, such as shopping malls, restaurants, bank branches, and grocery stores.
The residential sector is a growing area for LEED, particularly for multifamily residential projects. Universities are certifying new and existing buildings on campus. The breadth and depth of LEED projects is growing and we can really find LEED projects everywhere we live, work, learn and play.
For the past 15 years, project owners and teams in Latin America have embraced LEED with faith, confident that integrative design and the use of LEED as a tool for planning and decision-making would result in a better building compared to standard construction.
We have heard case studies showing that LEED buildings improve human health and demonstrate a reduction in absenteeism, reduce energy and drinking water costs, and generate higher rental rates and lease times. The storytelling is powerful, and now our stories are backed by financial data that gives developers and investors confidence that LEED is possible, profitable, and has a strong return on investment for projects located in Latin America.
I am enormously grateful to the CCCS, SUMe, our friends and colleagues from our sister green building councils, the LEED professionals and, above all, the OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF LEED projects whose support and data made this study possible.
The challenge that still lies ahead is the ongoing work to educate the market about green buildings. I hope you will join us in sharing widely the results of this study and our important ongoing work to help create a healthier, greener building future for all.
* Nicolette Bohnett, Director, Global Market Development, Latin America Region at U.S. Green Building Council.