September 10 2013

Redefining Green Building: Greenpeace Headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina

In June 2013 I had the opportunity to visit the new headquarters for the global organization Greenpeace in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I already knew that the building was energy efficient, and “green” in every sense of the word. However, it wasn’t as promoted or publicized like other examples of supposed sustainable architecture in the country, and you can blame that on the scale of the building as well at the organization that it houses, Greenpeace Argentina, who have had some difficult moments in the past.

Facade of the Greenpeace building

But sometimes, the best things are hidden to the general public, and this is true of this building that completely overwhelms when get inside and watch it work. The headquarters were designed by the Argentine-American firm ABBS Point Design, under the direction of architect Leo Lotopolsky -one of the principals of the studio and a LEED Associate Professional – and there isn’t a corner or detail of the building that isn’t well thought out from a sustainability viewpoint:

  • All wood used in the building is FSC certified, guaranteeing that it follows certain standards of social and environmental sustainability;
  • All paint is non-toxic (free of heavy metals), and extensive use of white paint helps maximize natural light;
  • Floor, cables and plumbing do not contain PVC at all and even the glue used is considered to be natural;
  • Grey water collection provides for all the non-drinkable water of the building; and
  • A special design in the auditorium ceiling improves acoustics and avoids the use of electric energy for communication.

These and many other innovations could easily make this building the most sustainable and energy-efficient of its kind in the Southern Cone, so why isn’t it recognized as such?

Greenpeace building interiors

Argentina is a country that has recently been struggling with the concept of sustainability; there has been a lack of interest towards this issue, obviously causing the country to be left behind in many areas.

It is a shame for a country with such immense natural and energetic resources - the Saudi Arabia of Eolic energy as some have declared – to not be able to rise to the challenge of being sustainable. A good first step would be to recognize the importance of this kind of building and promote its adoption on a wider scale.

Rain water recollection device

What can be done to actively promote sustainable ventures in a hostile environment?

Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 at 9:11 am and is filed under Architecture, Environment, Environmental Design, Luis Lozano-Paredes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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