Going green: Municipal and federal authorities turn to sustainable building


Mexico is home to the largest urban population in Spanish-speaking Latin America, having 10 cities home to over 1m residents and over 100 cities with more than 100,000. As such, urban planning and an emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency is necessary to ensure quality of life. Over the last decade Mexico has built itself to be a reference for emerging economies in the area of green and sustainable construction. In February 2019 the US Green Building Council (USGBC) announced Mexico ranked eighth in terms of gross square metres of LEED-certified buildings outside the US, at 8.4m sq metres over 370 projects. Within Latin America, Mexico trails only Brazil in terms of the total number of LEED-certified buildings. Indeed, Mexico has nearly 24% more LEED-certified buildings than Spain – which has 299 such projects – making the Latin American country the most important market for green architecture in the Spanish-speaking world.

For the Long Run

Sustainability has been the central focus for the country’s new generation of large-scale real estate developments. “LEED certification is gaining strength in Mexico,” Fernando Madrid, a Mexico City-based architect at Inguz Immobiliaria and professor at the Ibero-American University, told OBG. “It is interesting to see how the corporate sector is implementing such standards into their developments. It is a trend that we expect will continue and strengthen in the coming years.”

The government and other organisations are also ramping up efforts to go green. In May 2019 Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced the city would work with companies, academia and citizens to plant 10m trees and plants between June 2019 and November 2020. “The city should continue its economic development, but we also have to look at social development with an environmental focus,” Ileana Villalobos Estrada, the head of Mexico City’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, told local press in December 2018. “We have to work from a perspective that is economic, social, environmental, urban and holistic.” Similarly, as of November 2018 the private initiative VerdeVertical covered 20,000 sq metres of walls in the capital with vertical farms.

Top Projects

Mexico City is the top locale in the country for green architecture. The focus on sustainability includes smart renovations to some of the oldest buildings in the city, as well as contemporary designs at some of the city’s newest corporate towers. Mexico City’s Old City Hall, first constructed in 1527, was the first historic building in Latin America to receive LEED certification for the operation and maintenance of existing buildings. The HSBC Tower was the first building in the region to receive the LEED Gold certification for new construction. According to the USGBC the building’s innovations reduced water use by 76% and energy consumption by 25%. The Torre Reforma is also LEED certified and in November 2018 received the International Highrise Award from a Germany-based jury. Furthermore, Torre Bancomer, Torre Virreyes, and Chapultepec Uno have been LEED certified.

Outside the capital, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Puebla are focusing on sustainability. Capital Natural’s headquarters in Monterrey saves more than 75,700 litres of water per year, and during construction 75% of on-site waste is diverted from landfill. Also in Monterrey is the 40-storey Torre Sofía, which has green roof space and water-saving fixtures. Torre Americas in Guadalajara has energy-saving LED lighting and efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The Universidad del Arte in Puebla harvests, reuses and treats 100% of its rainwater. Across Mexico federal and local governments are incorporating sustainability into urban development. As such, the construction of LEED-certified buildings and the use of green and sustainable architecture in Mexico are expected to continue into the future.