By Christine Wipfli, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – With an annual population growth rate of 1.26 percent, the Brazilian Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, Latin America’s largest country will have close to 260 million inhabitants. That is an increase of over forty percent, boosting the population by 78 million people by mid-century.

Crowded Sao Paulo Skyline, photo courtesy of Alexandre Possi/Panoramio.

With this growth estimate, it becomes clear that more needs to be done to sustain Brazil’s resources. Currently, hundreds of projects are under way to provide Brazil with renewable energy including hydroelectric, thermoelectric, Biofuels, wind, natural gas and solar power. However tackling the resource problem from the production side is only one part of the issue, there are also considerable gains to be made through the construction of efficient and sustainable environmentally friendly buildings.

In Brazil’s economic powerhouse Sao Paulo, the effects of the population boom are becoming increasingly evident, with the greater Sao Paulo region experiencing intensive growth over recent decades. Currently the building industry is trying to catch up with the doubling of the population between 1967 and 2002 and the construction sector is booming with the number of both commercial and residential buildings growing at a staggering rate. With a sizeable portion of that sector entirely unregulated, environmental concerns such as pollution, provision of green spaces and the use of environmentally-damaging materials are multiplied.

The emergence of numerous local and international companies and organizations to face these environmental abuses head on is designed to counterract these abuses via a practice called Green Building. The term covers the erection of structures using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle; from design to construction, operation to maintenance, and renovation to deconstruction.

LEED certification of a low environmental impact building, photo by eng1ne/flickr.com Creative Commons License

The practice expands and complements the classic building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort, with the common objective of having ‘green’ buildings reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.

Both national and international companies are pushing to implement Green Building practices in their offices throughout Brazil. Some companies have started to include energy efficiency in the bidding process for new construction projects and government agencies are enforcing building codes and labelling and building certifications with the result that sustainability has become a popular theme in company’s values and mission statements.

Organizations such as the Green Building Council of Brazil are devoted to the development of Green Building practices throughout the country. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, The U.S Green Building Council and their promotion of LEED in Brazil (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) – a Green Building Rating System – are encouraging and accelerating the global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices.

Although it is certain that more rigorous environmental laws and regulations need to be enforced to protect Brazil’s precious resources, these and many other organizations are taking the first steps to point Brazil in the right direction for the responsible role of a soon-to-be global leader.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. It is great that Brazil is looking ahead and building green. The problem that I envision happening is that with such a growth in the built environment that there will be extreme pressure on the local professionals to design quickly. This will ultimately lead to a building stock that doesn’t work as efficiently as it needs to. I see that this same fate is bound to play out in India and China as well.

  2. Hey, Christine!

    This is Buck Quayle from Maui-Lahaina-Sun.com. It was a pleasure to meet you and your equally impressive boyfriend at It’s Cool language school in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    With all of Brazil’s sunshine-this country is excellent for passive solar building techniques (insulation on the outside, concrete and other mass on the inside, heated through north-facing windows during the day, radiating heat inside the structure at night). Combine this with solar generated electricity and solar heated water and your heating and cooling bills will be greatly reduced over the years.

    Some 25 years ago, I found 3 different plans for building solar panels to heat swimming pool water. I took what I considered to be the best features of each, and built the 5 panels with the help of some metal workers. None of us had experience welding copper tubing and it leaked like a sieve.

    Even so, it worked great giving plenty of hot water for the next 17 years. The cost of heating the pool for all those years was close to zero. The leaking water made the grass next to the pool happy.

    If I, with no experience, could have such a nice result-I suggest many of your readers could do the same.

    Looking forward to more stories from you.

    All the best,

    Buck

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