San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica launches new sustainable building certification

A new certification for sustainable building is available for architects and homebuilders in Costa Rica who want to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

The certification, Requisites for Sustainable Buildings in the Tropics, or RESET, inaugurated Wednesday as part of the 2012 Conference on Green Architecture and Sustainable Construction, held in San José this week, is the first certification of its kind in Costa Rica.

Carlos Álvarez, president of the Association of Engineers and Architects – the group organizing this week’s conference – said the new certification isn’t just for Costa Rica, but will be used to certify homes in all of Central America. “What we do with RESET,” Álvarez explained, “is an analysis of the [building] site, the earth, the ecological footprint of the building, water use and wood used [to build the structure], and [we] try to do more with less.

”Approximately 40 percent of the world’s population lives in the tropics, and a regional and global certification of sustainable building practices is needed, particularly in a world increasingly feeling the effects of human-caused climatic upheaval, he said.

The certification will focus on sustainable, low-impact building designs. Cross-ventilation, use of natural light, waste disposal and wastewater management will all be taken into account in the certification, as well as the use of local materials and energy-reducing technology incorporated into the building being certified.

Costa Rica, like much of the tropics, enjoys a relatively mild climate without major extremes of heat or cold, making it more suitable for ‘green’ building than other regions, Álvarez said. He reiterated the need, however, for regional cooperation and promotion of sustainable construction.“We want to be working in parallel with all of Central America,” he said.

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