Announcing a LEED Earth Winner: Venezuela
Located on a former industrial site in Caracas, VEPICA Sede — the new headquarters of VEPICA — began as a simple renovation project, and ended up becoming an amazing example of sustainable development for the country, as the first LEED-certified project in Venezuela and the most recent winner of USGBC’s LEED Earth campaign.
VEPICA Sede, a four and a half story building totaling almost 82,000 square feet of space, serves as the main office for the engineering, procurement and construction company.
VEPICA has long had a primary interest in the energy sector and in promoting sustainable business practices. Recently, VEPICA has begun exploring alternative sources of energy as well as establishing a greater stake in Venezuela’s building sector.
“As a corporation we’re committed to sustainability and a cleaner world, and we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Miguel Bocco, VEPICA’s Chairman of the Board.
One of those ways was bringing LEED to Venezuela.
The project’s three main goals to solve were based off of the country’s three key environmental challenges:
- potable water misuse
- energy consumption
- a population deeply reliant on motor vehicles
To minimize the use of motor vehicles, the project team (managed by Juan Carlos Tovar) carefully selected the location of the building so that it would be within walking distance of a thriving, well-established neighborhood.
While continuing to look at LEED through a human health lens, the project team also focused on “clean living” within the building. All employees have access to a fully equipped gym, healthy food offerings in the building’s cafeteria and even access to an onsite nutritionist. VEPICA staff often remark: “It’s definitely the best place to work in the city.”
The project team sought design that would allow for as much natural light as possible. Indeed, more than 95% of all workstations throughout the building have access to natural light. The building’s artificial light consists of LED and Halogen and key rooms have sensors to control the lighting.
Also, the project designed it’s own HVAC system.
The installation of VEPICA’s rooftop photovoltaic array — an idea long on the minds of the team from the beginning — came with over 45 kWh of installed generation capacity and an array of over 4,000 square feet of PV panels on the roof. This allowed the building to generate some of its energy while marking VEPICA Sede as the only building in Venezuela with such a cutting-edge system.
As for water, the goal was getting as close as possible to zero potable water use for the building. Once again, location became key, as the site of the building features local landscaping, requiring no irrigation save for the usual rainfall of the Caracas Valley. The team also installed a rainwater collection tank, which was constructed on the site.
The return for VEPICA has been tremendous: overall, the building boasts over eight percent in energy savings and 80 percent in water savings. Congratulations to VEPICA and the entire project team for pioneering many innovations and creativity in sustainable building!