Sixth Debate

SHOULD CONSTRUCTION AND URBAN PROJECTS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ADOPT GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATIONS (LEED, BREEAM, OTHERS) CREATED IN DEVELOPED AND INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS?

 

The moderator’s opening remarks:

The Canadian Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Reconstruction Research Alliance (Œuvre Durable for its acronym in French) and i-Rec (Information and Research for Reconstruction) are organizing an on-line debate (and competition) that explores the following question:
Should construction and urban projects in developing countries adopt green building certifications (LEED, BREEAM, others) created in developed and industrialized nations?
Some scholars and practitioners have recently encouraged the adoption of green building certifications, such as LEED, BREEAM, EDGE, PASSIVHOUSE, and others, in developing countries. Others, however, have challenged the appropriateness of adopting these type of certifications – that were originally developed in and for industrialized economies – in developing countries. The former often note that urbanization in developing countries is projected to rise from 46% in 2010 to 63% in 2050, and their population density is expected to double over the next three decades. There is, they argue, an urgent need to reduce the use of resources extracted from nature in such countries. They also contend that green certifications are increasingly adapting to local conditions in developing countries, and thus they are becoming useful tools to: a) decrease negative impacts on nature and ecosystems, enhancing resilience; b) reduce project and operation costs by encouraging the use of durable materials and increasing energy performance; c) mitigate negative social impacts, and d) create awareness about environmental impacts and risks, and stimulate the demand for sustainable solutions.
Critics of this approach often highlight that green certifications encourage the adoption of standards that were developed for developed countries and economies, neglecting local values and principles that suit particular conditions in developing countries. They note, for instance, the significant role of informality, adaptation, and flexibility in less industrialized construction sectors. Critics also deplore that certifications generally focus on buildings and neglect the complex and dynamic interactions between society, nature, the city, and the territory. They also argue that these certifications encourage the use of imported construction components and foreign technology, increasing project costs, carbon emissions, and dependency on industrialized solutions coming from the “North.” The use of imported materials and technology sometimes overshadows the financial benefits of energy savings achieved through green certifications. Finally, the prescriptive nature of green certifications and their emphasis on energy consumption often hinder local and context-specific innovations and overlook social and physical vulnerabilities that might be a priority in developing countries.
In this debate, we invite two internationally-known experts in the sustainable development field to defend two opposite viewpoints. Over the next ten days, our panelists will present their most persuasive arguments, but the result of our debate rests in your hands. Do not be afraid to vote immediately—you can always change your mind. Even better, once you have cast your vote, add your voice to the debate and explain your decision. We look forward to reading the comments of all of those who participate.
Gonzalo Gonzalo Lizarralde is a professor at the School of Architecture of Université de Montréal. He has long experience in consulting for architecture and construction projects and has published important research in the fields of low-cost housing and project management.  Dr. Lizarralde is the director of the IF Research Group (grif) of Université de Montréal, which studies the processes related to the planning and development of construction projects. He is also the co-director of Œuvre Durable, a multi-university research team focused on vulnerabilityresilience and sustainable reconstruction. Dr. Lizarralde is the author of the book The Invisible Houses: Rethinking and designing low-cost housing in developing countries and the co-author of the book Rebuilding After Disaster: From Emergency to Sustainability.  
 Jared Blum1 Jared 0. Blum
 Jared Blum has chaired the Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s Board of Directors since December 2010. From 1990 to 2016, Jared Blum acted as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). Previously, Mr. Blum was the Vice President for Legislative Affairs at Albers and Company from 1988-1990, and the Vice President and Legal Counsel of the Direct Selling Association from 1978-1988.
 davidwachsmuth_sm David Wachsmuth,
Dr. David Wachsmuth is the Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance at McGill University, where he is also an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban Planning and an Associate Member in the Department of Geography. Dr. Wachsmuth is an urban political economist whose research interests include city and regional governance, urban sustainability, housing policy, social theory, and the politics of urban public space.
The proposer’s opening remarks
The opposition’s opening remarks