Category: Green Building

The Green Building Seminar!

This year, the Green Building Seminar and Round-table took place at the University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica.  A good portion of the Conference tackled Climate Change, which included a variety of lectures, panel discussions and workshops.  Among the assistants were students, policymakers, academics and members of business and NGO community.

Dr. Karl-Werner Schulte, HonRICS CRE, International Real Estate Business Schoo began the conference as well as set the pace of the event. The Round-table was hosted by Mr Sven Schulte, a UPeace graduate student himself.With the aid of many university, NGO and business experts, the whole event moved at a smooth pace. Tropisphere’s very own Geoff McCabe was a key note speaker there!

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Eco Bloque Construction for Costa Rica

Eco Bloques in Costa Rica for green building construction

Wayne E Bird took the time to answer a few questions for Pura-Verde.com about his amazing eco-bloques, which are a long-awaited addition to the green building materials in Costa Rica. With this technology, builders nationwide will be able to build concrete-block style construction for cheaper as well as much more ecologically. The eco-bloques are made mostly from the dirt found onsite, using a machine imported by Mr Bird that uses high pressure to create them.

How did you get started with the Eco Bloques project and what was your motivation?

I was actually introduced to these products by a con man from the US. Long story but he professed to have exclusive rights to Costa Rica for Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB’s). He did not.

I knew this was a perfect product for Costa Rica and all of Latin America. Since then I have been on a mission to get these products approved for use in Costa Rica.

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Tropical Greenbuilding – Secondary Considerations

Tropical greenbuilding guide for Costa Rica green real estate and ecodevelopers

Secondary Considerations

1. Appearance – Use green and brown stuccos for coloring, and natural wood, or metal painted to look like wood, creating an almost invisible set of buildings that blends into the jungle and looks very luxurious and high-end as a result. A good example of this is how the Florsheims did their “Latitude-10″ luxury beachfront bungalows in Santa Teresa. Choose building shapes that create natural shadows and aren’t just big rectangles with flat sides.

2. Grey water treatment – You can use a series of rocks, gravel, and sand ponds that can be part of the landscaping to clean the greywater. This water comes from showers, sinks, and kitchen, and the food particles and other organic material in the greywater can be beneficial to the environment if treated properly. Chemical and chlorine-based cleaners shouldn’t be used for cleaning since these chemicals will go straight into the soil.
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Tropical Green Building

Tropical green building in Montezuma, Costa Rica

1. Cooling Considerations – power is already very expensive here and is expected to continue to go up. With all the development coming, we should build so that AC isn’t required to keep a house or condo cool. The simplest way to do this is to make sure that air can easily flow through the house, by having sliding doors on both the front and back. Sliding screens can be added to keep out bugs, especially in the rainy season and at night. Screens block at least half of the airflow, but are worth it if your house is in a buggy area. Another good trick is to build a steep roof and orient the house so that the sun never falls on one side of the roof, keeping it forever in shadow and thus much cooler. Or do like Bergit, owner of Hotel Horizontes de Montezuma did – she designed a roof system so the breeze can easily blow underneath it, keeping both the roof and the entire building cooler. Another option is to build the roof an entire story higher, thus creating a huge loft on top of the house, which not only keeps everything cool, but adds more usable space to the house inexpensively. Rather than using a clothes dryer, consider building a sunroom like Jakob Bjerre did in his solar-powered house in Montezuma. Even on cloudy days, this sun-room is hot and dry, and rapidly dries clothes hanging on a line. His brilliant design also located the sun-room next to the solar power equipment and batteries, which used this extra heat generated by the system to heat the drying room.
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Pura Vida Sunsets Eco Villa

Tropical Green Building - Eco House Design

If you look through a list of green building techniques or LEED certification requirements, you’ll see how few of them apply in the beach areas of Costa Rica. There are many reasons for this, but it’s primarily due to the fact that construction techniques are quite different.

Building green doesn’t just mean solar power and windmills on the roof – it also is about low maintenance, and using local know-how for construction and repairs, the idea being to keep your money in your community, rather than hiring outside contractors. Also, the climate here is doubly harsh in that it’s tropical and rainy half the year and desert-dry the other half. Your house has to withstand both seasons.

Looking online, you will find very little information out there about how to “build green” in the “dry tropical forest” of the pacific coast of Costa Rica, where much of the construction is going on now. We are trailblazing the way, helping to provide information for others to follow.

Please enjoy this webpage – we hope it will help you with your house, and we welcome your comments and suggestions, so we can continually update and improve this information.