Forum: “Sustainable Construction: ¿What do we need from the Government?” at the City of Knowledge

Last Wednesday, September 28, the International Forum “Sustainable Construction: ¿What do we need from the Government?” was held amongst a huge crowd at the Convention Center inside the City of Knowledge.

The Forum started with the welcoming words of Professor Jorge Arosemena, Executive Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation, who highlighted the extraordinary value of the conference due to the fact that sustainable constructions are a great part of the City of Knowledge that aims to become a Sustainable City.  Professor Arosemena also thanked the speakers and handed them a gift, which consisted of a watercolor painting by a student of the Architecture School of Isthmus made with recyclable materials.

Engineer Tomás Paredes, Infrastructure and Service Director for the City of Knowledge Foundation, was in charge of dedicating the event to Dr. Rodrigo Tarté, who passed away recently, and who was an outstanding citizen who fought endlessly for Sustainable Development in Panamá.  Engineer Paredes emphasized the fact that this initiative consists in a joint responsibility on behalf of the government and the private sector and it is therefore a very serious need for the country.  He also reminded the audience that Sustainable Development consists in reaching a balance between economic, social and environmental practices. Regarding sustainable construction he explained that in Panamá there is a lack of knowledge, a lack of technical capabilities, few examples of sustainable constructions, a lack of politics on behalf of the state and lack of regulations and control.

Architect María del Pilar Medina, Technical Director of the Colombian Sustainable Construction Council (CCCS), offered the conference “Public politic progress for the construction and the urban sustainable development of Colombia”, which dealt with the projects and the progress that Colombia has seen recently.  Architect Pilar Medina emphasized the fact that Colombia is a privilege country due to its biodiversity and therefore this must be protected in order to implement a sustainable construction policy.  Besides, she mentioned that we are going through an innovation period based on an energy revolution and therefore cities must adjust to new challenges because more people are living in them.  Edifications, she explained, have a considerable impact on C02 emissions and it is very important to promote a dialogue with the government that leads to the construction of sustainable edifications that promote the Sustainable Development of a nation.

Engineer Julio Rovi Sánchez, Director of a team of professionals of the Federal Energy Star Program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), spoke about “Financing, energy efficiency and sustainability”. His presentation focused on the importance of energy and how the waste of it is definitely not compatible with sustainability due to the fact that it is highly contaminating and expensive.  Engineer Rovi Sánchez urged audience members to invest in buildings that are efficient in their energy use because they are least expensive in the long term.  The important thing, he explained, was a change of attitude and thought on people with decision power in order to reduce the waste that harms the environment.  We need leadership, clear regulations, and continuous education in order to design, build and operate energy efficient buildings.

Engineer César Ulises Treviño, President and Founder of the Mexico Green Building Council, offered the presentation “Successful Programs and Public Politics: a report of Mexico”. His presentation focused in straightening the fact that the construction Industry has a great margin of improvement because it is the sector with the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost in very little time.  Engineer Ulises Treviño explained that there are conflicts of interest, lack of information, high-risk perception, underestimation of long-term benefits and energy subsidies that slow the labor. Nevertheless, he talked about the economical, health and productivity benefits and low operation costs that lead to bigger profits if the building is sustainable. Besides, he spoke about the progress in Mexico based on obligatory or volunteer incentives and that can be put to the test for the promotion and operation of sustainable constructions.

Dr. Jennifer Languell, Founder and President of Trifecta Construction Solutions, presented her conference “Importance of incentives, certifications and regulations in implementing sustainability”. She talked about the diverse projects that her company has done in order to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. Dr. Languell explained that the Industry in the United States has improved due to financial aid from the government, the “green” demand increase by consumers and the improvement of information access regarding sustainability.  She explained that unsustainable development has negative impacts that reverberate on human beings and the economy and therefore we need to strive towards a energy, water, material and durability balance in order to build sustainable communities.

Once the presentations concluded a very interesting Q & A session took place in which the members of the audience got to speak to the experts.  Later, during the recess time, the attendants could assist a photo exhibit about sustainable constructions registered to obtain the LEED certification such as: the Morgan & Morgan Office Building, the Commercial Plaza and the Student Dormitories at the City of Knowledge and also a photo exhibit about the Panama Canal Expansion Program.

After the break a discussion panel took place with the participation of: Blanca de Tapia, Representative of the Ministry of Housing and Land, Juan Manuel Urriola, National Secretary of Energy, Gastón Regis, President of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction and Carla López of the Panama Green Building Council. The panel treated subjects like clean and renewable energies, construction of social interest housing, planning of the land, education, clear politics, the need to create dialogue possibilities, innovation and the recent situation of the country regarding housing projects.

Dr. Guillermo Castro, Academic Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation, was in charge of ending the forum by mentioning that there is an undeniable link between sustainable construction and Sustainable Development. Besides, he emphasized the activities that the City of Knowledge Foundation will carry out regarding the subject and mentioned that a cultural and technological change is needed in order to sustain and promote sustainable constructions.

 

To access the presentations go to the following links:

María del Pilar Medina – “Elementos de Política para alcanzar ciudades sostenibles” – http://media.gestorsutil.com/CDS_web/53/documentos/docs/0504739001317742490.pdf

Julio Rovi Sánchez – “Financiamiento, eficiencia energética y sostenibilidad” – http://media.gestorsutil.com/CDS_web/53/documentos/docs/0854042001317742115.pdf

César Ulises Treviño – “Iniciativas y Políticas para la edificación sustentable en México” – http://media.gestorsutil.com/CDS_web/53/documentos/docs/0815061001317742400.ppt

Jennifer Languell – «Implementing Sustainability: Importance of Incentives, Certifications and Regulations» – http://media.gestorsutil.com/CDS_web/53/documentos/docs/0428941001317742779.pptx

 

 

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