Local June 29, 2022 | 6:29 pm

Sustainable projects in the country seek energy savings in housing of up to 90%

Santo Domingo, DR
Sustainable construction projects seek energy savings of up to 90% in housing. However, no regulations encourage green certifications for design and construction decisions.

“The climate crisis forces us to restore harmony between human life and nature. In the country we have enough solar, wind and hydro potential, among others, to produce energy. Nature-based solutions are key tools in green construction,” explains engineer Leandro Mercedes.

Although an increase in the cost of over 2% is estimated, several essential benefits exist. To the extent that users see reduced maintenance costs, electricity bills, higher indoor environment quality, and environmental protection, they will tend to choose green buildings; this leads to an increase in added value,” Mercedes said.

In 2020, C02 emissions in the country grew by 3.69%, compared to 2019, and per capita emissions increased by 2.62 tons per inhabitant, which meant a paradigm shift for new residential projects governed by Law 687 and the legal framework of the technical regulation system for engineering, architecture, and related branches.

“The concept has permeated worldwide, but there is no local regulation. That’s why being sustainable is a direction or focus of your work. The importance of green building certifications is something that will continue to trend and will change the course of real estate development in the country,” says the specialist responsible for the first residential proposal with green certification in the country. This work saves up to 36% on the energy consumption of each apartment.

Green buildings are developed with sustainable materials, responsible for the environment; that is, they are or can be recycled, they do not contain toxic elements, and in their life cycle, they present a reduction in the use of resources.

“The use of these materials has several advantages, as they are extracted in a sustainable way, they mitigate water, air and soil pollution, which results in a much lower ecological impact,” says Mercedes, who currently has projects in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, La Terrenas, and Samaná.

According to the civil engineer, who is responsible for the first company in the country to have an Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency (EDGE) certification, green projects have a much smaller carbon footprint.

“Electric lighting can cause high degrees of heat, while heat generation with natural lighting is almost zero if properly controlled; in addition to minimizing the amount of artificial light. In the same way, good insulation and ventilation management represent important savings in energy expenditure for air conditioning,” he emphasized.

Another simple solution is installing aerators in the faucets, incorporating air into the water jet, which reduces consumption by up to 40%, said the specialist.

“The percentage of construction and demolition waste that is used in the country is less than 8%. Therefore, although there are not necessarily conditions for zero waste, there is a lot that can be done. In our projects we reuse and recycle all kinds of materials, from debris, ceramics… to pieces of pipes that are given away or sold to whoever needs them;” points out Mercedes, who also has the LEED GA certification granted by the US Green Building Council (USGC) to professionals specialized in the area.

For the civil engineer, because of its carbon footprint, sustainable development in the construction industry is one of the most critical issues for investors, designers, developers, and builders in the 2030s.

“Some standards that are applied in the construction industry are the LEED, EDGE, or SITES certification system and the creation of certified sustainable buildings is one of the most exciting investment opportunities of the next decade, she said.

The focus, according to Mercedes, is on achieving a kind of communion between construction and the environment. It is based on the principles of circular waste management, the use of renewable energy, and support for environmental, social, and economic diversity.

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Paul Tierney
June 30, 2022 9:24 am

Big projects save money, but when more money is needed there is a blank check available, no questions asked. It equals opportunities for abuse when no honest checks and balances in place to monitor money movement.