The Green Revival of Ecuador's Cloud Forest

Martín Serrano Córdova

Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is a university in Ecuador that has achieved the highest ranking (A) given by the Ecuadorian government. The institution is also the leader in research in different Ecuadorian ecosystems. They have the widely known Tiputini Biodiversity Station, located Yasuní reserve, one of the areas of greatest biodiversity in the world, a campus located in Galapagos, and multiple smaller stations throughout Ecuador. In the last five years, the University has, with other partners, bought part of a cloud forest in the outskirts of the town of Mindo. Within this area, the University’s intention is to create a private natural reserve that serves as a research hub for the cloud forest.

Cordova Cloud Forest

After learning about the project, my goal with this capstone was to present to the University a project proposal that will encourage them to pursue the highest levels of sustainability for the institution in the cloud forest. I did this by highlighting, through an example project, how common sustainability principles among three green building systems can be achieved. The three building systems used as benchmarks to state the sustainability topics are: LEED, Estidama’s Pearl Rating System, and Living Building challenge. These three were analyzed, compared, and contrasted in a previous literature review, as the state of the art green building systems worldwide.

Cordova Learning Center

Living Building Challenge has been recognized as the most stringent and demanding rating system with only 21 certified projects in the world, and 240 registered projects awaiting certification. It is a system that has distinguished itself to go above and beyond just building sustainability, but to propose goals that impact the community and buildings around the project. Therefore, this has been used as inspiration to go beyond USFQ’s vision. The project’s program that has been recommended in my capstone is that of an education, conservation, and research institution that has the potential to become an academic hub at the national and hopefully also the international level.