Greener Real Estate in Argentina
Green architecture and construction is becoming an important part of the Buenos Aires and Argentine real estate market. Since coming to the fore front of the global conscience companies and individuals have been striving to inhabit ‘greener’ buildings and promote themselves as sustainable and future-thinking organisations. The concept has taken a while to catch on in Argentina and this is mostly down to a lack of awareness, government regulations and the high cost of constructing sustainably. The key to constructing in a more sustainable way is to incorporate new materials and innovative techniques into the building. These specialist materials are more expensive or may have to be imported meaning that they are out of reach of individuals and some companies.
It’s for this reason why multi-national and foreign enterprises, with headquarters in Argentina, have been leading the way in sustainable architecture. Corporate buildings that are environmentally conscious in their design and architecture are a big advantage for foreign companies: they offer prestige and promote a positive corporate message. An example of a more sustainable office building in Argentinais in Olivet, Munro. This modern office structure generates part of its own energy and is the first to be completed in Argentina that achieves a Gold Certificate from the LEED certification board (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). The building is completed and ready to be rented out, offering 5 floors measuring from 800 to 1000 m2.
Some of the main green features include: rainwater tanks in the basement that recycle water to be used in the toilets and for irrigatingthe grassyinsulation on the building’s roof.In order to achieve LEED standards (which focusses specifically on building materials), contractors have to reduce the consumption of natural resources and materials with rapid turnover, instead encouraging the use of recycled materials that also seek to reduce the production of CO2. This does some at a cost in Argentina. It is estimated that meeting LEED demands for Argentine real estate increases building costs by between 10% and 12%. There is still not that strong a market for sustainable construction materials, unlike in the United States where, due to more competitive prices, prices tend to be lower and there overhead cost around 7%.Nonetheless, the market for greener materials has been increasing. More providers are importing or manufacturing thesespecialist products.
Here are some of the ‘greener’ products and techniques that are being incorporated:
· Faucets that reduce water consumption by regulating the flow
· More efficient air conditioners,
· Forest Trust certified woods
· Carpets made from recycled materials
· Odour free paints
· Varnishes that improve indoor air quality
Another important technique is the implementation of green roofs, which help reduce energy use (and in some cases are used to collect rain water). Green roofs alsoreduce pollution in the area and encourage slower rain runoff that helps reduce flooding in the city and waterproof the building. The cost of this turf roof system depends on the type of area on which it is installed and varies depending on the size of the surface. The approximate value for the shipment, installation, and maintenanceplus six-month warrantyreport is $ 100 USD per m2.
Despites the costs, more and more public bodies and companies oriented to corporate social responsibility are moving towards sustainable building proposals. They not only offer obvious environmental benefits, but also important marketing and PR benefits that come from installing ‘green’ features. According to sustainable development expert LeonelCastello, CEO of VEKA America, there are three aspects to consider when choosing between anormal construction and one oriented at sustainability: "Firstly, energy savings is an increasingly important issue and central construction. The second aspect is the noise insulation: PVC glazing for doors and windows or shutters to reduce noise. Finally, the thermal insulation in buildings result in lower equipment costs conditioning, lower operating costs and significant energy savings.
Therefore, companies will in the long run be saving monthly on overhead costs by investing in greener technologies and materials. New government regulation has been introduced to encourage the implementation of environmentally friendly practices in homes too, not just corporate real estate. For instance, Law 13059 in Buenos Aires province that stipulates a minimum requirement of insulation in homesin order to reduce the waste of energy. Another way to raise awareness has been the retraction of government subsidies on energy bills. By effectively increasing gas and electricity bills the government is making people more aware and conscious of energy use.
New materials, such as Insulated Concrete Form (ICF), can reduce energy waste and household’s carbon footprint. ICF technology can achieve energy savings of up to 70%. This material complies with Law 13059 and speeds up the construction process as it means that the drywall, insulation and wall structure are performed in just one step. ICF is lightweight so it also reduces accidents on the construction site and requires low maintenance. In terms of costs, per square meter ICF costs around $ 120 dollars.
Solar panels are another popular and established method to help reduce energy use and they can be usedto supplement electric water heatingin houses, apartment buildings, swimming pools, sports facilities, hotels, residences,hospitals, shopping centres and across all business and industry. The approximate cost per panel is $ 700. The Buenos Aires real estate market is clearing becoming more environmentally friendly and also offers more proposals that will save you money in the long run.
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