The business case for LEED in Latin America

Nicolette Bohnett

A recent study conducted by the Consejo Colombiano de la Construcción Sostenible (CCCS) confirmed that LEED works for Latin America with statistical certainty.

This study reveals that the additional cost for LEED in Latin America today is less than 1.5% on average. And with experience and scale, the additional cost diminishes to zero. Integrative design and careful planning mean a more cost-effective, better building with a return on investment in under one year. Lower operating costs, enhanced health and wellbeing for occupants and higher profitability were the top identified benefits for achieving LEED in Latin America.

Today, Latin America has over  2,100 LEED projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, and Venezuela – 19 of the 21 nations of Latin America.  The first project in almost every country is a commercial office building or interior, and this remains the dominant LEED project type in the region. However, almost every country has LEED projects for the retail sector, like shopping malls, restaurants, bank branches, and grocery stores. The residential sector is a growing area for LEED, particularly for multi-family residential projects. Universities are certifying both new and existing buildings on campus. The breadth and depth of LEED projects is growing and we can truly find LEED projects in all of the places where we live, work, learn, and play.

For the last 15 years, owners and project teams in Latin America have embraced LEED on faith, trusting that integrative design and using LEED as a tool for planning and decision-making would result in a better building compared to standard construction.  We’ve heard case studies that demonstrate that LEED buildings improve human health and demonstrate reduced absenteeism, reduce costs for energy and potable water and generate higher rental rates and tenant lease times. The storytelling is powerful, and now our stories are further supported by financial data that provides developers and investors with the confidence that LEED is possible, cost effective and has a strong return on investment for projects located in Latin America.

I am enormously grateful to the CCCS, SUMe, to our friends and colleagues at our sister green building councils, to the LEED professionals, and most of all to the LEED project owners and operators whose support and data made this study possible. 

Download the Caso de negocio LEED en Latinóamerica in Spanish for free here. Click here to find a summary and study highlights in English.

The business case for LEED in Latin America

The challenge still ahead is the ongoing work to educate the market about green buildings. I hope you will join us in sharing broadly the results of this study and our important ongoing work to help create a future of healthier, greener buildings for all.

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