Sebrae sets the standard for buildings in-use in Brazil

The Sebrae Sustainability Center in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, is setting the standard for sustainable buildings in Brazil. The building has achieved an Excellent rating under BREEAM In-Use International Parts 1 (Asset Performance) and Part 2 (Building Management) making it one of the first buildings in Brazil to achieve this accolade.

The certificate confirming the BREEAM achievement was presented to Guilherme Afif Domingos, President, and the Sebrae team in a ceremony attended by Wasim Mir, the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy.

“BREEAM In-Use is an international standard used throughout the world to drive sustainability performance and help organisations reduce running costs and environmental footprint” said Martin Townsend, director of sustainability at BRE Global, the developers of BREEAM.

“Sebrae are helping to set a standard of excellence for buildings, and will also act as a role model for businesses throughout Mato Grosso and Brazil as a whole.”

Opened in 2010, the Center’s operation focuses on the generation and dissemination of knowledge on sustainability applied to small businesses. Its role is to map innovations, sustainability techniques and practices in Brazil and the world, and show business people how to be more profitable, reduce impacts on the environment and contributing to just and equitable social development.

Construction of the building began in 2008, with a core objective from the outset being its design and construction which had to have minimal environmental impact whilst the finished building had to integrate with nature. Occupying an area of 2,500 sqm, the building has 1,000 sqm of space area, divided into two floors.

With sustainability a key part of the Sebrae’s mission and vision, six years after the building was completed they decided to seek international recognition to provide validation of the success of the building and to showcase its efficient operation. The team researched various options and found BREEAM to be the most robust of all certification processes available. This was reinforced by the fact that BREEAM is based on science and research with a holistic approach.

Designed by architect José Afonso Botura Portocarrero, the Center was developed based on the principles of sustainable architecture and makes reference to Brazilian indigenous cultures. Its design and construction has received many accolades including the label Procel Build, awarded by the National Program for Energy Conservation (Procel) and the National Institute of Metrology Standardization Industrial Quality (Inmetro). These certifications map the energy efficiency and thermal comfort of a building. Graded 5.6 out of a maximum total of 6, the building achieved the highest in the Brazilian Labeling Program (PBE).

Built on an east-west plane to maximise sun orientation, the building’s canopy overhangs to provide passive solar shading to prevent direct radiation and possible reduction of thermal comfort. Its structure is based on that of indigenous houses. It has a ceiling height of 7.5 meters and is made up of two structural shells – an interior and an exterior, spaced about 30cm apart. This practice allows rainwater to permeate to provide natural cooling whilst at the same time the outer shell protects the inside. The hot air is encapsulated and allows lower internal temperature (up to 10°) and a more constant temperature on the ground floor.

It features two micro solar power plants – one of which supplies 100 per cent of the building. It also maintains a relationship with the surrounding ecology, with many animal species living and co-existing in the building, with birds nesting and circulating freely in the area.

Internally, the building features an interactive space, specially created to promote experiences and practical knowledge of sustainability, applied to life and business. Through games, applications, interactive environments and videos, visitors walk along an information track. Here sustainable practices, benefits and opportunities that they can incorporate into their lives and businesses are presented to them. This helps to provide a strategic reference point for people, companies and institutions in Brazil, wishing to understand how to innovate and be more competitive, whilst respecting the environment and contributing to social development.

Sustainability Center Sebrae Manager, Suênia Sousa, commented:

“The BREEAM certification is the most recognised in the world. It evaluates variables that are very important to us. As an organisation we continually to seek new tools, technologies, methodologies and the latest information to increase the participation of entrepreneurs in Brazil. By incorporating the BREEAM certification we are able to continually learn whilst benchmarking ourselves on an international stage.”

Suênia commented,

“BREEAM increases the responsibility of the team. At the same time it gives visibility, bringing with it the need to continue managing the same way and make improvements. The next steps are automating processes and controls to become even more efficient and accurate, make the street where the Center is located more sustainable and work with neighbouring institutions with environmental education and environmental management. “

BREEAM In-Use is now one the fastest growing sustainability standards in the world, with more than 50 countries worldwide using the methodology. BREEAM In-Use helps owners, managers and occupiers to drive sustainable improvements through operational efficiency, including how to continually manage the operation of their building effectively.

The BREEAM In-Use assessment was carried out by MLM Consulting Engineers. Scores of 71.4 per cent Excellent for Part 1, and 83.4 per cent for Part 2 were achieved, with the building and team scoring particularly highly in the waste reduction, land use and ecology, and materials categories.

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