Over the decades, Chilean engineers have contributed much to architectural design and technology. Earthquake proofing innovations are outsourced from Chile to countries worldwide, and Santiago is home to some of the largest skyscrapers in Latin America. Now, Chile’s efforts in the field of environmentally sustainable construction are being fully recognized.
Last month, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) released its annual ranking of the 135 countries that contain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings. Chile came in tenth in the world, with a total of 152 projects in the country that are either LEED certified, or are being constructed in accordance with LEED criteria.
To become LEED certified, a building or project must be constructed with a high percentage of environmentally sustainable materials and display effective levels of energy and water efficiency.
The Chilean government stepped up its efforts to promote environmentally sustainable construction in 2009 when it signed an agreement ensuring that all new institutional building projects would meet LEED standards. That same year, a WGBC branch opened in Chile that has since worked in collaboration with dozens of companies to ensure new projects adhere to LEED criteria.
According to Chile’s Environment Minister María Ignacia Benítez, meeting LEED certification has a significant financial incentive.
«The advantages of sustainable buildings should not only be seen from an environmental perspective but also an economic one,” she told La Tercera. “Companies can become more efficient and cost effective by reducing their energy consumption.”
Among the notable buildings in Chile to achieve LEED status is Santiago’s Titanium Tower. The skyscraper is the tallest completed building in Chile and was one of the first buildings on the continent to be LEED certified. Standing at a gigantic 636 ft (194 m), the building is not only environmentally efficient but also boasts some of the most sophisticated seismic technology available, as was evident when the tower suffered no damage during the large earthquake of 2010.
Elsewhere in the capital, the Costanera Center’s Gran Torre Santiago is currently under construction and being built to satisfy LEED standards. The building is set to be completed in April 2013, and has already topped out at 984 ft (300 m), making it the tallest building in Latin America and the second tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.
Brazil came in first in Latin America and third overall in WGBC’s rankings, with over 300 projects. China came in second overall with over 600 projects, while the United Arab Emirates topped the list with over 700 projects.