Brazil Achieves First LEED Gold Certified Public Building With GKD Metal Mesh

February 16, 2016

Brazil is not only gearing up for two major sporting events – the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, but also preparing itself for the future in terms of environmental protection. As such, the planners of the sporting venues were given the task of creating ecologically sustainable green buildings. However, the first public building in Brazil to receive a sustainability accolade is a courthouse, the “Tribunal de Justiça do Distrito Federal e dos Territórios/The Court of Justice of the Federal District and the Territories (TJDFT), which was awarded the much coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification from the USGBC. After considering many sustainable materials for the facade, Brazilian-architect, Siegbert Zanettini, ultimately decided on our stainless steel mesh.

The infrastructure and stadiums to be constructed for the 2014 World Cup are regulated by a strict agenda of sustainability. Given Brazil’s tropical to subtropical climate, the booming construction industry also recognizes the vast ecological and economic potential of resource-saving, energy-efficient buildings in the office, hotel and residential construction sector. A sudden increase in LEED certification inquires and awards – with Brazil currently holding 4th place worldwide – serve to effectively underline this.

As per the wishes of the construction manager, the TJDFT also had to meet this requirement. For LEED Certification, the USGBC uses strict international criteria to evaluate the sustainability of the land development, measures for saving water and securing energy efficiency, the material selection, the quality of the interior decor, and the degree of innovation offered by the design. The city commissioned Brazilian architect, Siegbert Zanettini, who had already received multiple awards for his sustainable projects, to design the ecologically ambitious courthouse. He drew up plans for the nearly 67,000 square foot, five-story office building with a sophisticated steel-glass construction. Perhaps the most striking design feature is a signal red center column with two slightly offset building wings. The left-hand wing was given landscaped terraces on each story along its entire length to break up the puristic appearance, which help improve the air quality. These green areas provide shade for the respective story below – and are supported in this vein by a centrally aligned solar protection screen made of stainless steel mesh that hangs vertically. On the building section that branches off to the right from the central column, Zanettini replaced the complex terrace/roof design with full-surface metallic mesh cladding from GKD. This material guarantees natural air circulation here, while also providing protection from direct sunlight. As such, it minimizes the thermal load on the internal rooms, reducing costs associated with air conditioning. The woven skin visually underlines the transparent effortlessness of the architecture, reflecting the light and colors of the surrounding area to create a pleasant and welcoming environment. The textile structure of the metallic skin also grants unrestricted outward views from inside the building.

Siegbert Zanettini chose stainless steel mesh from GKD, as he was already familiar with this material from various projects outside Brazil. A total of sixteen OMEGA 1520 elements – each 45.3 feet long and 10.5 feet wide – were used in construction of the TJDFT. These panels were attached using the Fusiomesh bonding technique developed by GKD. As an alternative to the tried and tested attachment method using round profiles and eyebolts, this approach underlines the sophisticated look of the building. This application of metallic mesh as solar protection, the first of its kind in Brazil, and the landscaped terrace roofs fulfilled the LEED criterion for “Innovative Design”. The maintenance-free nature, wind and weather resistance, natural ventilation and daylight permeability of the woven texture had a positive effect on the energy efficiency assessment of the material used. Zanettini’s design also stipulated that 20% of the building materials used in construction of the TJDFT should be made from recycled material. The woven wire mesh, which was produced almost entirely from recycled stainless steel, and the recycling of this stainless steel at the end of its above-average service life, were therefore further key factors that the architect was keen to exploit in optimizing the building’s ecological lifecycle.

Zanettini already paid great attention to working in harmony with nature when developing the site for the building. As such, some 75% of the excavated earth and building material waste was re-used. The wood for the interior partition walls comes from proven sustainable forests. All paints and glues used were tested by an independent laboratory to confirm that they were ecologically safe and emission-free – in particular with regard to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In addition to this, around 40% of the materials used in constructing the building were ordered from the local region to avoid any unnecessary transportation, additional costs and environmental impact. The Installation of water-saving sanitary facilities, as well as the re-use of waste and rainwater for cleaning and landscaping also catered to the sophisticated evaluation criteria for saving water resources.

Photography GKD/Zanettini Arquitectura

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