Greenwatch Latin America: Growing the green building market with EDGE

Nicolette Mueller

Latin America is the land of opportunity for green building. 

It’s a region where the majority believes that climate change is real. In Brazil, over 90 percent of the population believes that climate change is harming people now. It’s a region that has comparatively clean energy sources, but that pays dearly for electricity. Demand for electricity is predicted to double by 2030, but experts predict that growth in the energy generation sector will not be able to keep up. And it’s a region that has seen strong and steady growth in the number of green buildings and sustainability professionals with Brazil and Mexico consistently among the top 10 countries for green building in the world.

Speeding up market transformation with EDGE

EDGE is the latest solution offered by GBCI® to help building owners and developers in Latin America join the green building movement. An innovation of IFC, EDGE proves the financial case for building green in emerging markets, showing that environmental responsibility correlates with smart business. In Peru, IFC worked with the Peru Green Building Council (Peru GBC) on the public policy front, collaborating on the development of Peru’s Sustainable Construction Technical Code. 

According to Francesca Mayer, CEO of Peru GBC, “IFC’s support was instrumental for research on baseline building efficiency, and that same information will be part of the EDGE baseline for projects in our country. Having a shared baseline between our national codes and the EDGE software will make it easier for developers and investors to understand, share and compare information.”

In August, GBCI trained dozens of professionals from over 10 countries. The events were hosted by the Panama and Peru Green Building Councils. According to Roberto Forte, CEO of Panama GBC, “EDGE is a tool with great potential for Panama, especially for the residential sector and small and medium enterprises. EDGE has the potential to speed up market adoption of green building practice, raise awareness and advance greater market transformation.”

GBCI has already signed up and trained nearly 50 EDGE Auditors from around the world, including Mexico and Argentina. By the end of this year, GBCI anticipates having EDGE Auditors covering nearly all of Latin America, with Auditors located in Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. EDGE Auditors are ready to bring EDGE to their local and regional markets, making it faster, easier and more affordable to build and brand green.

EDGE complements LEED and other green building rating systems, allowing green building practitioners to offer additional solutions to meet unmet needs in the market. More owners and occupiers of green buildings means more demand for green building products and services.

What green building professionals are saying about EDGE

  • EDGE is a great opportunity for developing new markets in Latin America. With the growing green building trend, having a tool to evaluate energy and water consumption, and to analyze materials, will give owners an opportunity to impact efficiency, whether it’s a home or a skyscraper. Plus, having a certification like EDGE or LEED will establish a gold standard for construction in developing countries. —Carlos Roberto Pacas Herrera, Director at Instituto de Investigación en Energía, El Salvador 
  • Promoting sustainability in a developing country is challenging due to the lack of environmental and energy efficiency awareness, consumer confidence in current technologies, predicted favorable return on investment and availability or clarity of government policies that guide the market. The EDGE software is easy to use, and the whole project team easily understands the simple certification process. Integration, benefits and costs of various sustainability strategies can be seen and understood by all, not just the sustainability consultant. This allows for a better understanding on how it all ties together, eliminating doubts among professionals. —Ana Avila, Mechanical & Industrial Engineer, Panama
  • EDGE is a certification solution for sustainable buildings designed to fit perfectly into the Ecuadorian construction market, due to its affordability and ease of implementation. The certification process can be applied to small-, medium- and large-scale projects, and it can be an attractive design feature for stakeholders, developers, project owners and designers. Applying EDGE in Ecuador might be the starting point to increase the awareness of sustainable design in the construction industry, where standard practice and design strategies neglect energy and water efficiency. Finally, EDGE has the support of world-leading organizations, like the World Bank Group, IFC, and GBCI, making of it a tool that ensures quality in all of its processes. —Daniel Rodriguez, Architect, Environmental Designer, Ecuador
  • From the perspective of a private general contractor, I see EDGE as a very attractive tool to continue implementing high-performance green buildings for markets that have tighter budgets—for instance, for tax-deductible projects in association with the state to build schools and hospitals around the country. The free software available online and the accountability through a local auditor are essential to raising the standards in countries like Peru and the Latin American region. This is because the construction field is still young in implementing solutions provided by the intersection of both practice and academia. —Elda Silva, Architect, Landscape Designer and Urban and Regional Planner 
  • I find EDGE a valuable tool for both designers and developers. The main attributes of the system are its simplicity and its swiftness. The tool provides a quick assessment on water, energy and materials, visualizing potential savings almost instantaneously. The fact that the software is available in Spanish and tailored for each country makes it very appealing for the recovering Argentine market, especially for housing and office sectors. EDGE will certainly benefit from the momentum created by LEED, and can work as a complementary solution for achieving greener buildings in our country. —Andres Schwarz, Sustainability Advisor and USGBC Pro Reviewer, Argentina

More resources on EDGE for Latin America 

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