ENNE Arquitectos embraced the challenge of repairing an abandoned, antique building located in the Granda Centeno quarter in Quito, Ecuador. The rehabilitation started with the conservation of the first floor of an antique chocolate factory to install the new ENNE Arquitectos office. The principal objective was to demonstrate—to the community of construction professionals—that sustainable architecture in Ecuador was possible. We wanted to create a green building milestone in a country where a project had never earned LEED certificate.
We aimed to create a comfortable work environment where new architectonic designs would be inspired and developed. The outcome was a single floor office of 260 square meters that includes working and recreation spaces as well as interior and exterior areas. The project was planned to house 14 workspaces, a meeting room, a library an exterior garden, and a recreation area with a green wall roofed with a polycarbonate pergola.
Strategies and tactics
- The design team concentrated its efforts on the elimination of the use of environmental noxious materials, the use of climatological conditions through architectonic strategies, and the reuse of materials, structure and furniture.
- The principal objective of the project was to repair and reuse an antique building. We wanted to convert a spoiled space in a new architecture office. In order to maintain the original structure and avoid its demolition, the space was reinforced with steel, then we constructed a second floor and gave the space a new use.
- The use of certificated materials and non-contamination processed was a big challenge caused by the scarcity of this kind of materials in Ecuador. This job required a lot of investigation, research and economic effort.
- Water use reduction was very important for our firm. For this we selected bathroom pieces that conserve water use. We also installed dropping irrigation system in the interior green wall. This process begins with the rain collection by the polycarbonate pergola, this water irrigates the vegetation of the green wall and then goes to a pond that is used as a reservoir and it is also the habitat of our fish “Tito.”s
- Our first strategy was the coordination between the design team and the climate engineers. The benefit of this is to maintain a stable temperature during the whole year without calecifaction or air refrigeration. We installed a mechanic air renovation system that was added to the windows of our building. This allows our employees to control their thermic comfort. Since, the system can be operated and changed by any employee at any given time.
- The second synergy was produced between designers and the landscape architect. The gardens have native or adapted species that have reduced water consumption. Most of the plant kinds are aromatic and softly perfume the office.
- The strategy that gave us more LEED credits than any other was the water and energy use control. We installed water-saving faucets, faucet aerators and special toilets to achieve a 30% of water use reduction. We designed every space with natural illumination, and we also optimized and saved 30% of the energy use based on an illumination study.
Experience with LEED
Having the goal of earning the LEED certification since the beginning of the design was very advantageous. Having planed and programed the design and construction also saved us a lot of problems and possible modifications that would have cost time and money. Data and document permanent compilation had also helped in the efficiency of the construction process.
The most challenging aspect of the LEED process was to find proper products for this goal. At this moment in Ecuador, there are not a variety of sustainable products; so many of them need to be imported. For this reason we had to consider possible delays and a higher cost than in a normal situation. Nonetheless, this experience was a great lesson for us, because we had the opportunity to learn about new products and systems and even discover other kinds of Ecuadorian green products.
Applying LEED to this project has benefited us not only as tenants, but also as a design team. We learned about strategies, systems and green materials and how to apply this in a country where sustainability has not been considered in architecture. We achieved the challenge of creating a building that offers comfort, good illumination, spaces that have a strong relation with green areas, and we also save energy and water use. In addition, achieving the LEED certification demonstrated to our community that sustainable architecture and construction is possible in Ecuador.