Sustainability in Panama: David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez, LEED AP BD+C has a philosophy that provides, in principle, buildable, practical projects with a sense of aesthetics and belonging. David grew up in Panama spending a lot of summers in Europe.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and his Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.  He returned to Panama and eventually started Rodriguez and Toledo Architecture and Design in 2007.

“Sustainable architecture focuses on the commitment to minimize the environmental impact of the projects we design and develop on the environment for present and future generations. This commitment is applied at the urban level following the principles of design and development of communities according to the Charter of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU)  and architectural level respect the success of the traditional architecture of each region and implement practices and materials that reduce the impact environmental project according to the parameters established by the LEED certification of the USGBC.” – David Rodriguez

Sustainability Minded

David was not really aware of sustainability when he was growing up.  While he studied at the University of Notre Dame, he became aware of varying levels of sustainability through the curriculum that was taught.  David became sustainability minded during his studies later in life.

“If this awareness, this efficiency of how things are grown, how you have an alive city, etc. There was  varying reign as part of the culture of the curriculum in terms of trying to leave a better world that when you started with.” – David Rodriguez


David mentions two  mentors. Michael who was a dean of the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame.  Michael was David’s thesis professor and he was really good about showing you what you do transcends beyond just the immediate.  He also emphasized trying to leave a legacy for the world. David’s other mentor was an urbanist and was a really good friend for over 20 years and first boss after college, Victor Dover. He works with CNU and urban design and urban planning.  

“My parents have always had really good values in terms of having a notion of what’s around me and the world.  And even my first few summer jobs that I had really good bosses that gave me really good examples of good work ethics and tried to leave a good legacy.” – David Rodriguez

Proudest Achievement

One of David’s proudest achievements was working in a hope six project, which was a social housing project in Tacoma, Washington.  The project won numerous awards both in sustainability and smart living.

“I was the lead designer for that project when I was working in Washington DC and this is right before I left for Panama.  So I really felt proud that I ended up my 11 year stay in the US with something that left a legacy here.” – David Rodriguez

Palmer Green Building Council Founder

When David first founded the Palmer Green Building Council they had around 4 LEED AP and had just come from the US with some experience.  Others had just received their certification. The only project that had been completed was the US Embassy by US staff and professional.

“And what we find incredible is that nine years later we have a green building council that has about 130 members, both enterprises and people.  We have over 35 certified projects, some even high profile in terms of mags, laboratories, the general facilities. And you have a movement where we have been able to certify over a hundred people in terms of LEED green associates.” – David Rodriguez  

Book Recommendations


Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability by Stephen A. Mouzon

Tune into this podcast to listen to the rest of David Rodriguez’s amazing journey in this podcast hosted by Charlie.

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Announcement:  Starting on January 1, 2019, GBMS will begin rolling out it’s new membership community.  Members will be given access to some of the guests on the podcasts that you can ask project questions to, if you are preparing for an exam there will be more insurances that you will pass your next exam, you will be given cliff notes if you are a member and so much more.

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