Top: Edmundo Gómez, development director of GM Capital. Middle: Adrian Cantú, senior project manager at Capital Natural. Bottom: Torre SOFIA’s architecture brings harmony and integration into the urban landscape while its design and engineering interact with the senses and amplify experience of the space.
In fact, there are several very high-profile projects being developed that will be striving for LEED certification, most of them in San Pedro Garza García, a city-municipality in the Monterrey Metropolitan area. Some of the more noteworthy projects are engaging in the battle of the tallest tower, a battle in which the winners’ laurels rarely stay fresh for long.
The Koi Sky Residences, a multiple-use tower being designed by Diseño Arquitectónic and master planned by HOK, will be about 917 feet tall and is aiming for LEED Silver. Also in the San Pedro neighborhood, one property development group, GM Capital, has developed a long-term master plan on over 16 acres of land, with a mission of providing cheaper housing for those who work and spend significant amounts of their lives in San Pedro, but can’t afford to live there, says Edmundo Gómez Flores, GM Capital’s development director.
The project, Distrito Armida, has a first phase consisting of an office tower, hotel, event center, and retail shops, all totaling almost 1.2 million square feet of construction. The development group, which has been developing shopping centers for many years, decided to register the office tower under BD+C Core and Shell and attempt to achieve LEED Silver.
“This is the first time we’re looking at certification as a company,” Gómez says. What prompted GM Capital to do so was its aging shopping centers—one of which is 25 years old—which have become inconveniently costly to operate and maintain, he says.
“For us, doing LEED is a matter of being smart about long-term planning and using sustainable systems that would keep our operating costs low,” Gómez says. GM Capital will certainly be considering LEED certification for all its future buildings, though Gómez said that he didn’t yet think LEED-certified buildings were so prevalent in Monterrey that certification is a requisite to capture tenants. Yet he said that he knows that tenants and investors certainly think highly of the certification.
Capital Natural, a management firm for private equity funds, also has big developments going on in the San Pedro area. Its first project, Torre SOFIA, is a 39-story office and residential tower containing 53 residential units and 48 office units, including one occupied by Capital Natural, which obtained the LEED Platinum for ID+C Commercial Interiors v2009 certification last February. Torre SOFIA has sold all the office units, and nearly 96 percent of the residential units, and is pursuing LEED Silver certification for the building, says Adrian Cantú, senior project manager at Capital Natural.
Another ongoing Capital Natural project that will be seeking various certifications under LEED is Arboleda, which will ultimately be about 3 million square feet on almost 25 acres designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Arboleda currently has four different housing components under construction, including two towers and two lower-rise condominium projects. There are also commercial and retail components along with plans for a JW Marriott Hotel, rental apartments, and eventually a wellness center.
“We’re a forward-thinking company in terms of sustainability and the balance between human being and architecture,” Cantú says. “We feel it’s part of our nature and our vision to pursue these types of certifications.”
Capital Natural is also working with neighbors, schools, property developers, a golf club, and government officials in an urban revitalization project called Distrito Valle del Campestre, which seeks to improve the mobility and quality of life through urban and eco-friendly construction and community-engagement processes.
“We’re working with all these stakeholders to see how we can improve our public spaces and make Distrito Valle del Campestre a better place—friendly for walkers, bikers, and cars,” Cantú says. “We’ve been working three years now and are finishing the design development drawings.”
Capital Natural has also joined forces with Tecnológico de Monterrey in a similar community effort to revitalize Tec’s main campus and an area called “DistritoTec,” a cluster of almost two dozen neighborhoods that surround the campus. After the shooting incident in 2010, the university did some soul-searching, says Eduardo Armando Aguilar Valdez, the urban manager in the DistritoTec program.
“The university was very concerned about this, and they were even considering moving the campus to another area and creating a bunker where the students would be safe and nobody would get in,” he says. “But then they also realized that that was not the solution.”
Instead, three years ago, the university envisioned a $500 million campus and urban redevelopment project. The old football and soccer stadium, formerly home to the Rayados de Monterrey professional team, will be demolished and replaced by research, cultural, and sports facilities, and a new park open to the public. Those new constructions are currently registered for LEED certification, says Treviño, whose firm Bioconstrucción y Energía Alternativa has hosted LEED learning programs to educate Tec students since 2011.
Aguilar and coordinators of the initiative have held more than 100 community meetings with stakeholders in DistritoTec, including neighbors, government officials, property developers, businesses, and others to determine what infrastructure improvements are needed in the area and what services must be provided to retain and expand the vitality of the district, which has grown older on average and lost 22 percent of its population in the past decade.
Tecnológico de Monterrey New Main Library, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.
Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.
While Capital Natural may focus on building research and development infrastructure to help spur a research cluster on campus, along with student housing, and commercial and retail space, the Tec de Monterrey will most likely construct the academic buildings. What goes on outside the campus in the district itself will be the work of people like Aguilar, who will educate stakeholders on the importance of building responsibly and in an eco-friendly fashion.
That involves promoting environmental certification systems like LEED to private developers and educating investors and homeseekers of their importance. A big component is education, Aguilar says.
“We’re talking about creating a community that’s attractive, safe, and accessible for people who’d like to live here, who will stay and have possibilities and amenities,” he says. “We want to create the environment that talented and creative people are looking for.”
Salinas agrees: “Ten years ago, nobody knew anything about sustainability in Monterrey. It would just be Ulises [Treviño] and myself, knocking on doors and people just didn’t care. But now everybody is just so attached to the understanding that green building is profitable, and it’s good for the community and the quality of life.”