Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on April 5, 2009
Coming soon to a building near you: green! Starring: rooftop gardens! Natural lighting produced by: low-emmissivity glass! And introducing: natural ventilation! All helping to reduce the building’s operating costs by a glamorous thirty percent. And that sexy hilltop site won’t need a facelift — the architects, KMD in San Francisco, will only disturb ten percent of it during construction to reduce the impact it has on the natural landscape.
That’s hot — in an environmentally responsible sort of way.
Talking about the new headquarters for Cinepolis, the sixth largest movie multiplex chain in the world. It won’t make its debut in Los Angeles or New York. It’s not an innovation for a super-green city like Portland or Chicago. The Cinepolis Headquarters is a little further south, in Morelia, Mexico.
Although Mexico isn’t generally considered a principal in green building, Mexican architecture has traditionally incorporated a number of green building practices. Adobe, a natural insulator, is popular and many buildings have courtyards with fountains to cool indoor spaces. Currently, however, there is only one building that is LEED certified in Mexico. The Mexican government seeks to change that and is actively joining the green community, leading Mexico into LEED certification.
One of the first steps they’re taking is to create the Mexico Green Building Council, a non-profit governmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable building. The Mexico GBC works from within the construction industry to help them transition to sustainability. They are developing a LEED-esque rating system called the Sustainable Building Rating Tool (SICES) that caters specifically to the needs of Mexican buildings. The first area they the Council is focusing on is commercial buildings and low-income housing.
If you’re interested in buying a home, the Mexican National Fund for Worker’s Dwelling (Infonavit) has special loans and mortgages for people buying properties with green features, especially if there are energy-saving materials in the walls, windows and doors. The Fund is interested in helping contractors who are going green, pushing their paperwork more quickly through city hall.
Mexico is also suggesting the adoption of green practices for a slightly more controversial issue…the wall between the US and Mexico. The Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat has recently released a new study in conjunction with the United States called “A Barrier to Our Shared Environment: The Border Wall between Mexico and the United States.” According to the study, the controversial US fence poses a threat to the environment. The fence can cause floods, the interruption of migration routes, the disappearance of eleven different species, and the fragmentation of flora populations. Along the boarder, there are deserts, mountains, rivers and swamps, each with considerable biodiversity that would be disrupted by the construction. The study offers a couple solutions: use less intrusive fencing material so that animals can get through the fence and smaller machines to reduce environmental impact during the construction process.
The green building community is just beginning to emerge in Mexico, starting with pioneering buildings like the Cinepolis Headquarters. There are other interesting projects in the works, like an office building in Guadalajara that boasts a steel-mesh skin to insulate and protect from the elements and the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, a public library in Mexico City. It has a plain façade, to cut down on paint, daylighting and an on-site water treatment plant.
Considering the relative newness of the green building movement in Mexico and the traditional green elements that can be incorporated into the buildings, Mexico will be a very interesting emerging green country to watch in the next few years.