Atlantic Cities

Sao Paulo’s Business Community Goes Green

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Sao Paulo’s new Água Espraiada Operação Urbana urban planning program takes a big picture approach to sustainability.  

A prime example of Água Espraiada Operação Urbana guidelines in action is the Rochaverá Corporate Towers, a high profile mixed residential, office, and shopping complex built at a former industrial area along Sao Paulo’s Pinheiros River Basin. In keeping with Água Espraiada Operação Urbana agenda, this enormous 1.2-million-square-foot development was built to be highly energy efficient, control water usage, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and ease traffic congestion.
 
How can a development accomplish all of those objectives? Start with urban planning that mitigates sprawl, one of biggest threats to the planet today.
 
The developers of the Rochaverá Corporate Towers--the U.S.-based construction company Tishman Speyer and the Brazilian-based construction company Odebrecht Realizações Imobiliárias--have thought about sustainability in terms of transportation, building materials, and open space creation. Agua Espraiada Operação Urbana also provided the developers of the Rochaverá Corporate Towers incentives that enabled them to cut through local municipal regulations and build in a way that did not contribute to sprawl. In exchange, the developers provided cutting edge sustainability technologies such as a new storm water management system. 
 
Many city planning codes developed in the last century took a fundamentally anti-urban approach to planning by separating areas where people lived from where they worked and from where they shopped. And these zoning codes are at cross purposes with contemporary environmental agendas. When people live in different areas from where they work and shop, they have to travel farther to take care of their daily business. 
 
This presents a cost benefit challenge for a developer interested in sustainability, because in sprawling cities such as Sao Paulo, it is generally more cost effective to build in outer-lying areas. The land available for large-scale development in more centrally located areas often has been contaminated by former industrial uses, which adds to the expense of the development. Agua Espraiada Operação Urbana guidelines are trying to alleviate these obstacles for developers going forward. 
 
Rochaverá Corporate Towers is perfectly positioned to reduce unnecessary car trips. It is centrally located with easy access to public transportation. In addition, rather than being zoned for one use, such as an office park, it is zoned for a variety of uses such as office retail and hotels. The new mixed-use zoning approach helps cut down on congestion that is involved with people commuting by car from their homes to their workplaces.
 
The new tower complex also reflects the growing green aspirations of Brazilian companies, such as Odebrecht Realizações Imobiliárias which has made sustainability a key aspect of their corporate identity. The company has taken a firm stance against sprawl and announced that its agenda is to build homes and neighborhoods located near the main amenities of major metropolises. 
 
If more companies followed the example set by this development, cities would be able to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas contributions. Challenging the ideal of the single-family house in the suburbs, which is still the predominant ideal in many cultures, is a key part of the strategy.
 
However, the Rochaverá office complex does a good job because it is designed to be a place where people want to be. It is  introducing a complete new aesthetic for Sao Paulo’s business community by providing it with a live work complex that includes a landscaped central plaza and two green spaces. Such amenities are unusual in Sao Paulo’s more established business districts where open space and sustainability have not been considerations until recently.  
 
 
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