The marshland in Rio de Janeiro State is about to have a new building constructed and certified by the Green Building Council Brazil. The structure, designed by an NGO called Onda Viva, will house the Center for Ecology and Education for a Creative Economy.
The project proposes to unite citizenship and sustainability. “The idea is to have sustainability issues open, inclusive, and instructive for all. We want to inform the public perception about sustainable construction and how an energy efficient building works. For example: reducing the use of potable water, using new renewable energy technologies, and materials & equipment that meet environmental standards,” says the description of the educational center.
In an interview with the website CicloVivo, Hélio Vanderlei, Public Policy Manager of the NGO, explained that the idea for having this type of structure, which has sustainability in every detail and even serves to offer courses and training for disadvantaged youth, first came in 2012. Since then, the organization has worked to research an ideal model, and sought out partnerships which would allow the dream to become reality.
Now in the final phase of construction, Vanderlei explains that the choice to construct a building made from shipping containers came after much study and consultation with experts. Additionally, the NGO had experience in other types of sustainable construction, such as the use of styrofoam board and bamboo. The current project, planned to open this July, uses recycled materials and a number of other efficient solutions.
In all, the building will contain six containers arranged on two floors. The sides of the containers will be used for the foundation and the upper part will remain. Using only the metal, they will form open spaces and provide structural rigidity, creating large environments.
The foundation is only the beginning of a series of sustainable technologies in the building. The finishing materials are certified to have low emission of volatile organic compounds. Throughout the entire construction phase, means of reducing environmental impacts were taken into consideration.
The educational center will have green walls, to minimize the heat island effect and provide thermal and acoustic insulation. The plants also help to improve air quality by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen.
The roof of the building is one of the project's highlights. It contains eleven solar panels, equipped with inverters, batteries and a bidirectional meter, as well as wind turbines that transform the force of the wind into energy. The structure allows for excess energy to be stored or sent to transmission networks. The roof also has rainwater harvesting systems and solar collectors to warm the water used by the operations of the complex.
Even with systems that produce energy and collect water, the structure must have a way to avoid expenses, which is the best incentive for reducing waste. Therefore the building has large windows that take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation, highly economical LED light bulbs, aerators, efficient faucets and flow regulators, and toilets with two flush settings. Lastly, the building is equipped with a “biodigestor,” which processes organic materials to generate gas for the kitchen.
In addition to its architectural design being one of its great advantages, the complex also has a large educational appeal. The Center for Creative Economy will offer various community services. The workshops and courses made available by the NGO will focus on the creative economy. The aim is to provide one hundred youths access to classes in communication, public speaking, video production, social design, photography, fashion, digital media, and more, annually.
The structure and all of the concepts behind its architectural design will themselves be used for educational purposes. The activities include guided tours for high school and trade school students with the goal of presenting tools and technologies of sustainable construction. Future designers, architects, and engineers can also attend seminars about the techniques of container based construction, energy efficient concepts, and other solutions used by the educational center.
Are there buildings in your city that utilize some or all of the elements of this building? How does construction practiced in your area impact the environment? Is there sustainable construction occurring in your community? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.