Jeanne Allen Carswell, LEED Lab Coach and Technical Solutions Specialist at USGBC, spoke with architect David Dominguez, LEED AP BD+C, USGBC Faculty and leader of the 2017 LEED Lab at Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de Mexico (IBERO.) He talked about how the concept of the LEED Lab came together and about their approach.
How did the idea of a LEED Lab at IBERO come to fruition?
I was trying to do something that creates an impact and change in Mexico. When I asked Nicolette Mueller, Director of Global Market Development in the Latin America Region at USGBC, to advise with her suggestions, she provided me with a list of possible projects, and one of them was to create the first LEED Lab in Mexico. I was teaching a couple of LEED courses at IBERO at that time, so I mentioned it to the university. The way a LEED Lab is structured is so simple, yet quite innovative, so the university liked the idea right away.
What motivated the decision to use a building in the community?
On campus, we ran into challenges with making the necessary changes to operations and maintenance policies in time for certification submission, and we knew that funding for the certification fees and any necessary upgrades (such as replacing light bulbs or water fixtures) would be limited.
Finding a partner in the community helped eliminate these challenges and also provided access to a real-world example for the students. The prestige associated with having a building certified under LEED was attractive to Grupo Surge. Having the certification performed by a LEED Lab was seen as an added benefit. After evaluating the options, I realized going for a building in the community would hit several targets with one shot, while creating a better experience for the students.
What challenges and opportunities did this decision present?
Torre Siglum is a multitenant building, and a key challenge for us was how to push performance, while being limited in how much we could engage tenants in the LEED process. We had to design a strategy between ownership and the students that would require minimum involvement from tenants. Timing was also a challenge because this process takes about a year and we did it in two semesters, with Christmas and summertime breaks right in between.
Torre Siglum itself is an example of how building inside the urban fabric of a building can have a smaller impact on the environment because of the good connectivity and access to mass transportation. Because of the building’s great performance in the Location and Transportation credit category, this compensated for the credits that would have required us to engage the tenants directly.
Every party involved got something in return: IBERO created an innovative class, Torre Siglum achieved LEED Gold certification, the students gained crucial knowledge about sustainability and the community now has a case study that can be replicated in other buildings.