Philippines: Green Buildings Are Increasing Their Demand in The Real Estate Market place

What is green building? Green building is the practice of: increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials. It is a move to reduce building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal (the complete life cycle of a building). This is according to the United States Office of the Federal Environmental Executive.

The green building movement originated from the energy crisis in the United States in the 1970s. Green building today considers environmental impacts and recognizes the environmental, economic, and social aspects of building.

In our country, we have a boom in the construction industry. Unfortunately, most of our municipalities have not considered the good effects that the “green building” code can give us. Senate Bill No. 3251 otherwise known as the Green Building Act filed by Senator Bongbong Marcos last year is an Act that will establish a national green building code and rating system. This bill seeks to attune the Philippines to the rising global standard in sustainable buildings and construction developments. Through this bill, Senator Marcos is hopeful that aside from establishing green building standards and a rating system, the government may also incentivize builders and owners by way of tax breaks and other benefits in exchange for their compliance with the said green building standards.

I recently went through processing requirements to meet Quezon City’s Green Building Ordinance for one of our school’s project. Mayor Herbert Bautista is the first mayor in the Philippines to implement a Green Building Ordinance to enforce sustainable building designs in Quezon City.  He initiated this in 2009.

I am happy that Quezon City has taken the lead to reduce its carbon footprint through the shift of public facilities toward alternative energy resources, wider installation of systems for resource reuse, and restrictions in the use of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic bags. We very well know that this city is heavily populated and is aggressive in development. So, it is timely that the mayor is conscious of the possible environmental effects of progress and development in the city.

Mind you the city is quite strict in its implementation of this new code. I can vouch for the seriousness of the city officials in this endeavor as our O.B. Montessori school in Fairview just went through a tedious process of it. Before we were issued a building permit, we had to complete the following mandatory documentation requirements: land/site sustainability such as pollution prevention system, erosion, sedimentation and air pollution control plan; energy efficiency by having efficient lighting fixtures; water efficiency which means having a water use reduction system; materials and resources with the inclusion of waste management plan which provides for the installation, operation and maintenance of a material segregation facility; indoor environment quality which includes a designated smoking area in the building (although schools are smoke-free zones); and an inclusion of a sewerage treatment plan.

A friend of mine, Juan Paolo Villonco, a young lawyer from Ateneo Law School and the first Filipino admitted into Stanford Law School’s Masters in Law Program with specialization on energy, environment and policy, told me that the building sector accounts for approximately 30-40% of global energy use. If this is left unregulated or unchecked, the building sector will rapidly increase the consumption of energy resources and intensify the effects of climate change. Therefore, it is imperative that buildings are constructed, operated and maintained in a sustainable manner.

Because of the world’s growing concern for the environment, “green” buildings are rapidly increasing their demand in the real estate market place. More and more people prefer to live and work in energy efficient and environmentally sound buildings which developers charge a premium for. So, if you plan to buy a condominium in the metropolis it would be wise to ask if the building is a “green building”. By the way, we have many heritage places that need to be preserved and rehabilitated. I hope that as people rebuild or restore these places they also consider the green building code. We must cleanse old edifices which may still contain asbestos or other toxic materials used during the initial construction phase.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should take that bold step of pushing through with its plan of adopting a green building regulation in the National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP). DPWH has the authority to issue implementing rules and regulations for effective implementation of the NBCP. It has the power to amend or revise under the doctrine of necessary implications. Justice Secretary De Lima said that if provisions should be made, it must respond to the needs of the changing times. She added that aside from amending the NBCP’s IRR and existing referral codes, DPWH could also craft a separate referral code to be known as Green Building Code to hasten the adoption of the green building.

Since buildings use a third of all energy consumed, and buildings cause greenhouse gas emissions, energy reduction in new building construction and operation was the subject in a recent survey of buildings conducted in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. This was done as part of the Green Building Program of the International Finance Corp. in partnership with the Mandaluyong City government, the DPWH, the WSP and the Philippine Green Building Initiative as foreign and local consultants, respectively. The survey aims to develop smart green building policies which in turn will be used to develop guidelines and strategies for adoption by building owners to conform to internationally accepted standards. Findings in the survey showed that all buildings have no insulation and do not adopt energy saving measures.

The Philippines faces two significant challenges with regard to environmental sustainability. First, energy prices represent one of the highest energy tariffs in the world. Therefore, a significant part of the population could face energy poverty, according to a study. Second, we are likely to be one of the most significantly impacted nations in the world from climate change due to the country’s long coastline and dependence on agriculture.

I hope that all municipalities in the Philippines collaborate and come up with a standard code so that the public will not get confused. We need to be united in our effort of establishing systems, guidelines and rules so that our country does not go wayward.

In order for the Green Building Program to succeed, stakeholders must be involved in the development of policies. These are the owners, tenants, design team, developers, government, utility companies and the community. If they abide by the green building regulation, we will surely succeed in having a more eco-friendly environment.

Source: The Philippine Star

 

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