By Ritchie Lafaille, Office Associate
Back in 2012, the USGBC and the architecture firm HOK initiated “Project Haiti” with the goal of replacing an orphanage and children’s center that was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake. After visiting Haiti with former president Clinton, Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the USGBC, thought it was a great opportunity to support the people of this country by building an establishment under the LEED and WELL building standards. However, due to various complications, with the legal system especially, the project was suspended for almost 3 years.
Nonetheless, Roger Limoges, the Project Manager and a Senior VP at USGBC is not giving up. Now with the help of McLennan Design, Miyamoto International, and a few Haitian-owned companies, the project is due to begin in the middle of next month – the establishment will be named “the William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center “. These past few years have helped Roger and the project team learn a lot about the Haitian culture and understand how to deal with various obstacles that they face. The project is aiming to achieve a platinum-level certification and most importantly to show that, with commitment, obtaining such certification is possible in any part of the world.
Fondation Enfant Jesus (FEJ) is also a major collaborator on this project. FEJ is a non-denominational non-profit organization based in Haiti that aims to break the cycle of poverty by promoting sustainable human development for impoverished children and their families through a robust full-life development program including culturally-sensitive education, child and family advocacy, health services, and community building. Their assistance is gladly appreciated and very important to this project.
Since the introduction of the LEED building standard in Haiti, a few establishments were inspired to achieve a certification. Citi Haiti, a local bank, is the first building on the entire island to obtain a LEED certification. They managed to reduce its use of electricity by 20%. The indoor environment and water system were largely improved, 50% of their parking area in now covered, and the collection and storage of recycles was implemented. This is a proud accomplishment for Haiti and for the USGBC.
This experience had taught the project team of USGBC how communities around the world can be very different and how we can collaborate with local organizations and foundations through the methods of LEED to change the built environment. As of future LEED projects in Haiti, nothing is yet planned, but it is impossible to go to Haiti and not fall in love with the people, the culture, and the idea to build more sustainable sites. You can count on the USGBC to bring many other projects to Haiti and across the globe.