The rise of eco-friendly real estate projects

The Philippines’ major cities are enjoying a real estate boom. The metropolis’ landscape is dotted with either busy or idle cranes, flattened patches of land on the verge of a groundbreaking, or buildings here and there looking to be finished, if not occupied by excited unit owners. Down below, motorists and pedestrians are met by flyers, huge billboards, and board ups highlighting promises of luxury, accessibility, affordability, or comfort (sometimes all of the above) that could attract even the most critical home buyer.

It goes without saying that competition is tough among developers, with almost everyone offering more or less the same. Marketing strategies have to be unique and more targeted.

Going green

Architect Miguel Guerrero, chairman of the Green Architecture Advocacy of the Philippines (Green AP), says the country is slowly adapting the concept of green buildings.

He points out that green building rating systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) have been used on a few buildings in the country.

More than a marketing game

Marketing strategy aside, having that “green” stamp does make a development sound more appealing especially now that people are becoming more conscious of the environment no thanks to the threats of global warming.

But what does it mean when you say eco-friendly development?

Guerrero explains that it has something to do with the word “sustainable.”

“It should use resources efficiently and provide a healthy environment for the users or occupants,” Guerrero imparts. “From the point of view of the user, it should be energy efficient, water efficient and healthy.”

Eco-friendly development

The Green AP chair furthers that a building is considered “eco-friendly” if it is constructed in a way that reduces the heat entering the property. There should be plenty of natural light and ventilation, rainwater harvesting and water recycling are being implemented, units are equipped by energy efficient appliances, healthy and renewable materials (bamboo for instance) are used. Renewable energy, to some extent, should be used as well.

Guerrero says that building eco-friendly developments equate to more monetary savings for both the developer and the client at the end of the day.

“Savings come from energy and water efficient design. Depending on the design, savings can vary from 30 to 50 percent,” Guerrero shares.

Ayala Land

Ayala Land, one of the biggest real estate developers in the country, says it has been espousing eco-friendly development since the 1980s, even before the idea of being “eco-friendly” became popular.

Anna Maria Gonzales, sustainability manager of urban regional planning at Ayala Land, says that they rather use the term “sustainability” as opposed to eco-friendly. She stresses that the conglomerate develops eco-friendly projects not because they are joining the bandwagon but simply because “sustainability is embedded in the DNA of Ayala Land.”

Guided by the principle of building responsibly for future generations and for nation building, Ayala Land follows a certain “code of conduct” each time the company builds high-rises, mixed-use and integrated communities, and commercial and business centers.

The rules include building with minimum land disturbance, translating to least cutting of trees for one. There should be respect for open spaces and ecosystem functions. Emphasized also are pedestrian orientation and convenient links to public transport.

“All developments are designed where the environment is protected not harmed; people can walk or bike around, carbon emissions are minimized, there are parks…We create products that have lasting value,” shares Gonzales, citing Ayala Land’s large-scale communities and developments like the Ayala Center, Bonifacio Global City, and Nuvali in Sta. Rosa Laguna as examples.

Gonzales explains that in its their residential developments, Ayala Land makes sure that their high-rises are built in such a way that they minimize artificial lighting, encourage water reuse, use standard energy-saving light bulbs, to name a few.

“It’s just a matter of knowing how nature works, using technologies that make good business and environment sense, or simply balancing environment and economic sustainability,” shares Gonzales.

Robinsons Land

Like Ayala Land, Anabel Carangan Valencia, architect and head of design and planning department at Robinsons Residences and Luxuria, says that Robinsons Land has a long history of using eco-friendly materials and sustainable practices in its residential, commercial, office and hotel developments.

“Eco-friendly features in RLC developments are used at both the planning and operations stages,” says Valencia. “During the planning and pre-development stage, RLC requires consultants to incorporate these features for its projects like proper site location and orientation, appropriate materials selection and resource use.”

According to Valencia, developments of Robinsons Land use eco-friendly design and materials that seek to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Some of the eco-friendly features of a typical RLC project include proper building orientation which provides natural daylight and cross ventilation; using CFL bulbs that are energy efficient; incorporating water less urinals, dual flush water closets and low flow shower valves; and application of exterior and interior paints that use low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC).

RLC residents, tenants and customers are also encouraged to do segregation and recycling.

Valencia cites Robinsons Land’s Trion Towers in Bonifacio Global City as an eco-friendly project. She says the property used a tri-axial floor design wherein the three tower development uses the three-way corridors that allow free flow cross ventilation and natural lighting at the common areas, thus reducing the building’s electricity cost.

Valencia says projects leaning towards eco-friendly are gaining more and more interest from Robinsons Land clients. According to her, prospective buyers and end-users are increasingly aware of the impacts of climate change. Consequently, they look for projects that are eco-friendly or less likely to be affected by climate change.

“A few companies also look for ‘green certification’ because they believe that it will translate to low maintenance and operation costs in the long term,” she says.

Source: The Inquirer

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