What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in the growing green building market?


For products, materials and equipment manufacturers to adapt them to comply with the maximum LEED points available for and to document their LEED compliance accordingly, to have this information ready to be issued to clients. For firms that provide consultancy services in design and construction, to incorporate LEED principles inside their business DNA.

For contracting companies to learn on how to apply the different LEED plans and protocols regarding construction and operation & maintenance.

For developers and REITs funds to implement LEED in their new constructions and major renovations and also in their operation & maintenance for their existing buildings, they will achieve an increase of value for their portfolios.

To all of them to include their LEED capabilities in all of their marketing tools online and offline. The good news in LEED is once they have learned them and have it ready they are the same in every country around the world. There are many product manufacturers and services providers that in Europe and other parts of the world have adapted to LEED and are exporting and expanding their markets abroad because of LEED. 


Many individuals assume that a green project is going to cost more money, have you found this to be the case, or would you say that this is a false statement?


This is a false statement always used by companies and organizations against this new trend in the market. Designing and constructing a sustainable building is looking for synergies, doing more with less and looking for savings in a cross interdisciplinary way, say it holistic (inside and outside the building).

The basic concept behind that, which LEED applies, is that a building is a box that has many loads (heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation, water,....). if using strategies that produce synergies making savings in several building fields at the same time (site, water, energy, materials, environmental air quality) we will reduce those loads, reducing those loads means that the passive systems (envelope) and the active systems (M&E) to satisfy them will be smaller. For example if making this process in a LEED building we save 30% in the cooling loads, for a building needing initially 1 Million frigories, we will save 300.000 frigories in cooling towers, UTAs, chillers,...If we do this with all strategies in all fields, at the end we have a better building costing a lot less. Designing and building a LEED building is knowledge and a discipline that has to be understood. Usually the marginal costs for sustainable strategies are recovered in 3-5 yrs through the direct savings they achieve with ROIs (Return On Investment) between 25%-40%. An important thing is to start to work on sustainability at the early stages of design, implementing the integrate design and construction process at inception phase, this way all the team will work together in the same direction and you will achieve 0% increase in project costs. 

The later in the design and construction process the worst for sustainability integration. 


What are the major differences between LEED and BREEAM certification system?


Although when you see the credits from the technical point of view the two systems look very similar, they have very big differences in relation where they come from, what are the interests behind them and in which consists its practical implementation.

LEED is a system developed by a built environment industry private non profit association which its members are companies/organizations from the comprehensive construction industry to transform themselves towards sustainability in one generation.

BREEAM is a tool developed by the UK Commonwealth Government through the BRE trust (Building Research Establishment) to support their policies in this field and their actions towards the industry across the globe.

LEED is developed by its members working in committees that develop the new versions and with many public comments openings before new versions approvals. There are other committees that run the day by day operation. LEED is a system bottom-to-top.

BREEAM is a top-to-bottom system where at the end all comes from the Government through the BRE.

LEED is the same in all places of the world which is an added value for product/materials/equipment manufacturers, services providers, contracting companies, developers, investment companies and tenants, buildings are comparable and that means geographical certitude for the market and more value.

BREEAM is different in many countries; in Europe they have several franchises (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Austria) all of them using their methodology but based on the standards and regulations choose by the franchisee organization, so they are not the same and are, because of that, not comparable. Then there are other adaptations for several world regions “GreenGlobes” for the Americas, “GreenStar” for Oceania and South Africa and “Beam” for Asia.

LEED requires for every strategy implemented in a building proofs that it is in place and working provided by; suppliers, vendors and installers. LEED certifies the building finished and in operation.

BREEAM requires only documentation.

LEED is based on international organizations standards like Ashrae, Green Seal that are not government regulations.

BREEAM is based on UK Government regulations.

LEED is structured by market developing process Design+Build Construction, Design+Build Interiors, Building Operations & Maintenance and Neighbourhoods Developments.

BREEAM basically is applied by building typology. BREEAM requires Assessors/Auditors.

LEED does not require any LEED-AP for certification which means less costs for developer, is it prepared for developer to do it himself through LEED-Online. And a very important one, LEED is based on that the building has to Profitable to the one that builds it, owns it and operates it, is better for the environment and is healthier for the people that lives or works inside them. The balance on the triple bottom line People, Planet & Profit is what makes LEED buildings excellent. 


How would you describe the future tendencies in Spain affecting commercial real estate?


Spain has been the LEED pioneer country in Europe. We are the first Council in Europe & Spain and the third of the World, founded in 1998. The first LEED building to be registered in Europe was ALVENTO Business Park (METROVACESA – Owned) in Madrid in 2000, was the 20th building in the world Registered in the program. ALVENTO was also the first building certified LEED in the whole Europe 2006. Floor 24 at Tower Picasso in Madrid, CBRE Offices, was the first LEED-CI GOLD Interiors in Europe. Campus Palmas Altas, ABENGOA HQs in Seville has been the first LEED-CS PLATINUM PreCertification, Core and Shell in Europe.

The real growth in Spain starts in 2007 with 10 buildings in the program which is growing exponentially till the 176 we already have at the end of August this year. The year we celebrate our 15th birthday we have 52 buildings certified LEED.

With this numbers Spain is the 3rd country in Europe the 4th in Iberoamérica and the 14th outside USA. LEED in Spain is an initiative by the Spanish companies (80% national) that ranges from the big multinationals; utilities, energy, banks, fashion, construction, real estate to the medium small companies, plus government buildings at local regional and national level and universities. Only the 20% are foreign multinational companies having their businesses in Spain. Corporate office, shopping malls are the dominant typologies, but some rise residential developments have also entered the program. 


What are the expectations?


From the data study we made this summer, even if with the great recession the number of buildings have receded, the ones that are still built, the majority of them go LEED to differentiate themselves in the market as a product, and to create great value. All our analysis forecast that the exponential growth of LEED is not going to stop in the coming years in Spain. So we have a bright future. 


Do you see big differences between country and country, Eastern Europe and Western Europe in the Going green process?


Really no, due to the European Union homogenization effect there is not a big dispersion among countries from former east-west division. We have from our studies that at 1st January this 2013, countries with 100 buildings in LEED or more where (6): Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Finland & sweden. Those with 50-100 (2): Poland & France. Those with 25-50 (6): Czech Republic, Russia, Israel, Hungary, Switzerland & Ireland. Those with 10-25 (7): Netherlands, Romania, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Serbia & Belgium. Those with 0-10 the rest.

As you could see east and west countries are mixed. Europe has at the 1st January this year 1.377 buildings inside the LEED program which is a number that was exceeded in the first months 2004 in the USA. In 2004 we had in Europe only one building ALVENTO in Spain. So in practical matters we have 10 years difference with similar size region. We have a lot of room to grow in LEED in Europe in the coming years.