HQ to be the first Chilean building achieving LEED green building certification

Transoceánica headquarters use a system of energy efficiency that incorporates passive design and solar reflection.

Online PR News – 04-February-2011 – – The new headquarters for private equity firm Empresas Transoceanica in Santiago looks nothing like a conventional commercial set up. But it is expected to use just one-fifth of the energy of a comparable Chilean office.

A wood-wrapped north facade deflects solar radiation, while allowing for natural light to pour into the office space, and a 75m-deep ground source heat pump uses naturally cooled water to lower internal temperatures.

Alex Brahm, the lead architect from Chilean firm +arquitectos, explains that the local climate makes cooling, rather than heating, the main energy burden. Much of the energy efficiency gain is achieved thanks to passive design principles aimed at reducing exposure to sunlight (rather than intensifying it, as is the aim with such designs in colder latitudes, including northern Europe).

Additionally, the passive systems incorporate design elements that are highly energy efficient like location, orientation, solar control systems, use of natural Light, renewable materials, local plants, deck insulation, facades and thermical bridges analysis.

The HQ is expected to become the first building in Chile to receive a gold rating from the internationally recognised LEED green building certification system. Crucially, the LEED scheme includes a three year programme to monitor how much energy the eventual occupants consume once the building’s in use, and encourage them to be more energy efficient.

The Green Building Certification Institute's website records 66 LEED Accredited Professionals in the UK. This is the fifth highest national total behind the US, Canada, UAE and China.

It is precisely this issue that Martin Hunt, Head of Built Environment at Forum for the Future, identifies as a key sustainability challenge for commercial properties: closing the gap between a building’s design, and its actual performance in practice.

Hunt adds that new ways of addressing this are being developed. The introduction of ‘green leases’, where tenants have financial incentives to use the building in more energy efficient ways, are becoming increasingly prevalent.