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How Costa Rica is Transforming its Homes into Green Buildings

Above: Condominio Linda Vista El Mirador

With an ever growing demand for residential buildings in Costa Rica, Arch. Esteban Cervantes explains the measures that Green Building Council Costa Rica is taking to successfully transform the country’s homes into green – and affordable – buildings in this exclusive blog for WorldGBC’s #HomeGreenHome blog series for World Green Building Week 2018.

Introducing green homes into the housing market

There is an ever growing demand in Costa Rica for more residential buildings, especially apartments. In fact, in 2017, the Costa Rican’ Architects and Engineers professional board reported a total of 10.17 million m2 of building area, registered during the year, of which 41% was residential projects. The 81% of the residential area accrued to new construction and individual residences. In light of this, the Green Building Council Costa Rica (GBCCR) considered it vital to focus a significant part of our efforts on transforming this sector of the building market.

GBCCR has been able to demonstrate that sustainable housing is a viable opportunity for almost every type of residential development, namely through the EDGE-CR program and its role as an official certifier.  Since the launch of EDGE in Costa Rica, GBCCR has made considerable efforts to explore the housing market and work towards implementing sustainable strategies that can make housing more energy efficient, use less water and use more environmentally-friendly local materials (both in sourcing and manufacturing) that can represent energy savings.

The EDGE certification program has been able to fill a gap that existed in the Costa Rican housing market, which had not yet moved towards sustainable design and construction, unlike the office and retail spaces markets.  With EDGE, the housing sector has found the opportunity to obtain better credit options through the mobilisation of “green credits” that national and international banks manage. For the advancement of this initiative, GBCCR has played an active role, lobbying with different financial institutions, both public and private, as part of its strategy and providing training to some workers of these banks.

Green funds for green homes

Access to green funds is supporting the financial case for green buildings in Costa Rica.  There are several residential projects that are either EDGE certified or are in the process of becoming certified, setting a precedent for other residential developments to start following this example.  Here are two examples.

Building green homes and retail space

Santa Verde (below) is an excellent example of a mixed-use project that has recently achieved EDGE certification for office, retail and residential spaces. The project contains 172 housing units which were designed using solar panels to heat almost 100% of the water in every unit, water-efficient fixtures and fittings, LED lighting, PVC window frames, and 3-D wire panel walls with ‘shotcrete’ on both sides. The overall building was designed with a window to wall ratio of 22%, reducing heat gain and making this community development into one of the most sustainable housing projects to date.

Meanwhile, social housing, a vital sector for the welfare-focused-state in Costa Rica, has also followed these footsteps and has found in EDGE a certification system that works with local data that includes climate information, construction systems, usage patterns and utility costs.

Santa Verde, above

Linda Vista, a social housing project with 98 units is currently pre-certified under EDGE Homes, achieving a 54% reduction in water use; 27% reduction in energy consumption and 55% reduction in the materials category.  This project is designed with natural ventilation, efficient lighting systems, water saving fixtures and fittings, wall insulation and a reduction in the window to wall ratio that allows the building to stay cooler during the day. The company that developed this project, FUPROVI, has used the free-access EDGE tool to evaluate and project savings and adequate systems in some other social housing projects that it has developed, such as La Esperanza.

GBCCR has been working to develop the sustainable housing initiative together with several members, including developers and bank entities. Together, they strive to mobilise the dynamic Costa Rican residential market towards green building and increased benefits for their occupants.

Arch. Esteban Cervantes is Technical Advisor – EDGE Expert at the Green Building Council Costa Rica. GBCCR is the leading organisation that promotes the transformation of the Costa Rican construction market, as well as the transformation of the country’s cities with sustainability, resilience, and habitability as guidelines. For more information, visit