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By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd
Green or sustainable building is a new trend in the construction industry where the principle of caring for the environment is paramount. Panama is not escaping this trend and Law 69 of 2012 incentivizes the building of these kinds of structures. Currently there are 41 green projects under way. That number is projected to increase with time.
The term green building refers to a structure built using a process that is considered environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout the building’s life-cycle: from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. The common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.
Panama Green Building Council gives LEED certificates to structures that incorporate elements that save energy and water as well as those that reduce pollution. Through February 2013 three buildings have obtained the green seal of approval. They are: the headquarters of the Asociacion Panameña de Ejecutivos de Empresas (APEDE), US Embassy and the new Bladex Building.
One innovative project which is currently under construction is “Torre 5 Costa del Este Business Park” designed by BHDP Architects, that incorporates a curtain wall with high efficiency glass, a cooling system that minimizes the consumption of drinking water and energy and a rainwater collection system that is going to be used to operate the toilets, urinals and water the green areas.
Iván Barría, President of the Energy Commission of the Chamber of Commerce said green building practices could be applied to low-income housing to reduce the energy prices for the inhabitants of those neighborhoods.
Coming into law
Law 69 is not up and running yet, because the regulations that will define how this legislation is going to be applied have not been written. Meanwhile, Panama’s builders may want to consider the economic benefits they would like to get out of gearing up to go green.