Environmentally friendly with healthier, safer, and more productive working spaces. Savannah East was envisioned by RGM Limited to be the first LEED certified building in Trinidad and Tobago. We pull the curtain back, just a bit, on this landmark project.
Apr 18, 2017
Environmentally friendly with healthier, safer, and more productive working spaces. Savannah East was envisioned by RGM Limited to be the first LEED certified building in Trinidad and Tobago. With its introduction, RGM aims to lead a paradigm shift in the methods of construction and building operations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED), is an internationally recognized green building certification program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, launched in 1998. The program was designed to combine technology, planning, and building strategies to improve performance measures in water and energy efficiency, carbon emission reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and conscious stewardship of our finite natural resources.
From its inception, RGM faced a notable challenge which arose from the lack of local experience with the specific construction and operation methodologies required for Savannah East.
An integrated team was formed and LEED charrettes / meetings held to define and detail the governing green principles and strategies to be applied. A LEED scorecard was developed by the team which consisted of key local stakeholders, design and construction teams, LEED Associated Professionals (AP), and an international Commissioning Authority.
This scorecard acted as a guide to the LEED certification process and was used by the owners, architects, and construction team to track expected credits during the process of design, development, and construction. It was used throughout the process to determine whether the project was on target to achieve the desired LEED Silver certification level.
The lack of local experience with the LEED approach was addressed via training, education, and on-site meetings. The LEED AP, as well as the owners, was also involved in all of the meetings. A technician was assigned to the site to provide daily continuous guidance and undertake inspections, thereby ensuring that all LEED guidelines were being adhered to. Any deviations to these guidelines were reported and immediately addressed. Also, the Commissioning Authority shared information with contractors before works commenced and all commissioning guidelines were contractually stated.
During Savannah East’s construction, waste was diverted from the country’s landfill. Materials such as rebar, plastics, glass, cardboard, paper, aluminum cans, florescent lamps, and timber were all diverted to various recycling agents. The remaining waste generated during construction was difficult to divert as the recycling facilities did not exist.
Maintaining good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) during construction created novel challenges, as it required constant supervision of the multiple trades who were involved in undertaking various concurrent installations throughout the building. Maintaining IAQ in accordance with set guidelines was a new concept in Trinidad and Tobago, yet key to gaining the required LEED credits. Signage, inspection stickers, and random inspections all assisted with this endeavor.
Achieving water efficiencies was also key to the success of the building. The introduction of low-flow/ low-flush water fixtures, use of rainwater for flushing, and air-conditioning condensate for landscape irrigation all contributed to a 55% water savings when compared to conventional buildings. Across Trinidad and Tobago, the rainy season typically lasts for approximately half of the year and there was the potential to harvest rainwater for use within the building. As such, a decision was made to invest in the construction of a rainwater storage tank, which mitigated against an irregular and limited potable water supply.
Energy efficiencies of 23% over that of conventional buildings was achieved through various lighting strategies, Building Management System (BMS) controls, an energy efficient VRF Air conditioning system, insulated building envelope, and renewable energy generation systems. At present, more than 5% of the building’s overall energy needs is generated from the sun. The owners mandated the installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system to promote clean & sustainable energy generation. Savannah East’s PV system generates approximately 20 KW and is the largest system installed in Trinidad & Tobago. Installations under 5 KW are more common.
Various other green technologies employed within the building were all locally sourced. These included low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, high solar reflective index (SRI) tiles, the design and installation of a green landscaped roof, green or living wall, open-grid parking pavers, and other regional materials.
The Future of Green Building
Savannah East is the first LEED certified building in Trinidad and Tobago and its continuing education programmes and efforts will continue to promote green building throughout the country. Savannah East has shown a proven path to transform the way we design, build, and operate buildings in Trinidad.
The future of green building in Trinidad and Tobago is now. Green buildings create communities that people can be proud of and actively involved in, foster living and working environments which promote higher levels of productivity and occupant comfort, encourage the reuse of older buildings, and shift the national discussion toward more sustainable living.