All across the world, countries everywhere have incorporated sustainable techniques and policies to buildings and other construction projects. South America is no exception. Multiple different countries in this continent have incorporated newly sustainable policies over the last twenty years that have made influential steps in redefining the countries’ significant reductions in energy consumption, water consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and solid waste. Here are ten examples of South America’s most sustainable buildings:

1. Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano (Urban Development Company) – Medellin, Colombia

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How to Design a “Building that Breathes”: A Sustainable Case Study of Colombia’s EDU Headquarters ©Archdaily
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How to Design a “Building that Breathes”: A Sustainable Case Study of Colombia’s EDU Headquarters ©Archdaily
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How to Design a “Building that Breathes”: A Sustainable Case Study of Colombia’s EDU Headquarters ©Archdaily

Serving as a benchmark for Colombia’s sustainable buildings, this building uses a newly developed mix of building functions and public activity. The building uses a prefabricated facade system composed of high-quality elements that allow the outside cold air to be directed towards an external chimney, generating, and influencing thermal mass on the interior. This allows a comfortable change of temperature and air currents in workspaces and visitor centers. In addition to natural ventilation, it uses buoyancy ventilation, which is when the air system is powered by the waste heat from body heat, computers, and other internal heat gains.

2. Museum of Tomorrow – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Museum of Tomorrow: a captivating invitation to imagine a sustainable world ©The Guardian
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Jordan, A., 2020. Sustainable Tomorrow. ©LS:N Global
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Museum of Tomorrow: a captivating invitation to imagine a sustainable world ©The Guardian

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the museum devotes itself to issues like climate change, environmental degradation, and social collapse. It uses innovative solar spines that follow the sun’s movement to maximize energy absorption. It also has a rainwater collection system that reuses water gathered from Guanabara Bay to provide air conditioning for the museum. These self-sustainable systems make the building live up to its name, and hope to influence the surrounding area and the rest of Brazil to follow in using similar systems.

3. Costanera Center – Providencia, Chile

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AC Hotel Santiago Costanera Center Opens in Chile © Caribbean News Digital
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Costanera Center Tower – Santiago Chile, Santiago – Chile (Chile)  ©Targetti
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Costanera Center Tower – Santiago Chile, Santiago – Chile (Chile)  ©Targetti

Apart from the tower, this complex includes a shopping center with another three towers that house offices, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, 2 five-star hotels, a heliport, an aerial garden, a medical center, and free time facilities. During the construction phase, it had an environmentally friendly choice of materials as well as the design of the external walls. The facade of the building uses plenty of windows that allow natural light to light the structure. It also uses a sustainable water system, air conditioning system, and garden facilities that integrate eco-technology with the purpose of conserving environmental resources and lower operating and management costs of the complex itself. 

4. Transoceánica Building – Vitacura, Santiago de Chile

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Gallery of Transoceánica Building  ©+Arquitectos
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Gallery of Transoceánica Building  ©+Arquitectos

These building designers focused on design elements such as solar control systems, use of natural light, renewable materials, and plant species before developing any technical system to optimize its green abilities. It was through this that its unique shape was designed for optimal solar orientation and exterior views from all the rooms in the building. Because of the analysis of its location the architects were able to integrate geothermal energy systems, which use the extraction of water from the ground to cool air and capillaries through heat exchangers. The architects were also able to develop the proper treatment for its facade to avoid excess or loss of heat. All of these steps help in optimizing energy efficiency that benefits the environment. 

5. MeMo House – Buenos Aires, Argentina

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BAM! tops sustainable dwelling in Argentina with verdant roof profile ©Designboom
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BAM! tops sustainable dwelling in Argentina with verdant roof profile ©Designboom
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BAM! tops sustainable dwelling in Argentina with verdant roof profile ©Designboom

This independent single-family home is a prime example of landscape and architecture working together to create a sustainable home. The house has a continuous three-dimensional garden that can be reached on any floor, with a system of green ramps connecting the floors. The home also follows the sun’s path, optimizing the use of solar energy to supply heat, electricity, and ventilation just from its location and orientation. The project also uses a rainwater harvesting system that prevents water waste by taking already processed water and using it for the irrigation of the garden. 

6. Javier Prado Tower – Lima,  Peru

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Torre Javier Prado ©Wikimapia
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Image Sources: Torre Javier Prado ©Wikimapia
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Javier Prado Tower, a Sustainable Building in Lima ©ULMA

Located in the financial center of Peru, this uniquely shaped building is the ninth tallest building in the country. The 36-story building was designed as a high-performance building, due to its use of sustainable materials and interior air quality. It also has efficient water systems and energy systems that reduce waste and lower costs. The building has a geometric distinction that begins on the thirteenth floor, with sharp changes in angles at different points of the structure.

7. Argos Tower – Bogota, Colombia 

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Torre Argos: arquitectura eficiente en la sabana de Bogotá ©construcciones Planificadas
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Torre Argos: arquitectura eficiente en la sabana de Bogotá ©construcciones Planificadas
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Designed and constructed by Construcciones Planificadas, this high-rise building is a critical example of sustainable architecture for the country. The building is composed of two independent towers that are integrated under one roof, forming a single “L” shaped building. The shape and glass facade take advantage of sunlight, using it for natural lighting. It uses Bogota’s savannah climate to achieve low energy consumption and interior comfort, in addition to a sustainable cross-ventilation system, water platform, and a green roof. 

8. Eco Berrini Building – Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Galeria de Eco Berrini / Aflalo & Gasperini Arquitetos – 24 ©Detalhes da arquitetura, Arquiteta, Melhor arquitetura
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A prime example of reducing a building’s carbon footprint, the building uses everything from its facade to materials to lower its environmental footprint and reduce monetary costs as well. The glass facades are orientated away from direct sunlight that in turn reduces electricity consumption of lighting systems and air conditioning. It also uses water conservation systems and reuses greywater to avoid being wasteful. It was even sustainable during construction, having a rational use of materials and a proper waste management system. 

9. New City Hall – Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Aguilar, Cristian. New City Hall in Buenos Aires ©Foster Partners.
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Image Sources: Aguilar, Cristian. New City Hall in Buenos Aires © Foster Partners.
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“New City Hall in Buenos Aires by Foster Partners.” Aasarchitecture ©Foster Partners.

Spanning over an entire city block, the building uses a combination of sustainable design and new technologies to create an environmentally friendly structure that is open to government officials as well as the public. The building has four-story-high glass walls that allow natural light and create a smooth transition from the outside park-setting to the office spaces.  The main characteristic is the flowing roof canopy that extends in a deep overhang to shade the entrance and facades inside. This overhang along with chilled beams and the thermal mass of concrete soffits help regulate temperature and air conditioning on the interior. 

10. Titanium Tower – Santiago, Chile

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“Titanium Tower in the Background – Santiago, CHILE: Santiago De Chile, Recuerdos De Viaje, Lugares Hermosos.” ©Pinterest
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Golf in Santiago De Chile ©Pinterest
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“Atardecer En Santiago: Santiago De Chile, Paisajes Chile, Paisajes.” ©Pinterest

Designed by architect Abraham Senerman Lamas, this tower is the environmental standard for architecture in Chile, becoming one of the first buildings in the country to receive the LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The tower facades have a unique, flexible design, imitating wind-filled sails that rotate on their vertical axes.  The building has multiple forms of using natural forces to supply the building, like natural ventilation through operable windows, as well as curtain walls that use thermal double-glazed panels to maximize light entry and minimize solar radiation. There are also recycling stations on every floor, ground levels dedicated to gardens and greenery.

Emely Acobo
Author

Filled with a passion for architecture, traveling, journalism, athletics, and the environment, Emely Acobo is an architecture graduate student at Florida International University, with an aspiration to further develop green architecture as well as enhance her writing and research skills in journalism.

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