SANTIAGO, Chile — The Chilean capital of Santiago is now home to innovative new architecture projects that are helping the country solve its energy challenges.
Called Latin America¹s economic tiger for its high economic growth rates, Chile's vibrant economy has meant rising energy consumption. Chile is projected to need twice as much energy by 2025.
One way Chile tackles that challenge is by re-thinking its buildings. About a third of the world¹s energy is consumed in buildings for heating, cooling, cooking, lighting and appliances. Architects here are moving away from highly-inefficient structures; instead, dozens of buildings that use energy efficient designs are now being built.
A green-building prototype for both Chile and Latin America is the Transoceanica building in Santiago¹s Vitacura neighborhood. It¹s the first building ever in Chile to achieve the LEED gold certification by the international Green Building Council. Finished in late 2010, the building consumes just one-fourth of the energy demanded by a traditional building its size.
The incredible energy efficiency of the Transoceanica building stems in great measure from passive, energy efficient design solutions, which lowers cooling costs, the largest factor in commercial energy use in Santiago.
Another key contributor to efficiency: a geothermal pump draws water from a 75-foot deep well below ground to cool the building.
Chile¹s Ministry of Housing and Urbanization is also doing its part by building 10 model energy efficient buildings to house its own offices around the country. The government is also developing green building standards, and has launched a certification system for residential housing, all pointing the way toward a more eco-friendly future.