Philippines: Fighting climate changes with green building

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Climate change is taking its toll in our country. Rainy seasons have become unpredictable, bringing severe flooding and other dire conditions that scientists predict will become more frequent as the planet continues to become warmer.

In response to environmental threats, Filipino architect and green architecture advocate Albert Zambrano encourages architects to do their roles in limiting the effects of climate change in the communities. He said that architects are in a position to take a lead role in climate action by promoting green designs.

“It has been estimated that 40 percent of all fossil fuels consumed are attributed to the construction and operation of buildings. If architects design buildings are energy efficient, then the carbon dioxide emission, which is one of the leading causes of climate change, can be significantly reduced,” he said.

To help mitigate the effects of climate change, according to Zambrano, architects can do three things: employ green building principles and processes to their projects; educate and convince clients, building users, other building professionals, and stakeholders to go green; and create examples or templates for easy replication on a mass scale for higher impact.

Locally, architects and their respective organizations are quite active in addressing the issue of climate change by pushing for green building designs. The United Architects of the Philippines, for instance, encourages its members to design green.
A number of academic institutions have also expressed commitment to promoting green architecture so future architects will be equipped with the knowledge and skill set to deal with climate change.

Zambrano, who is teaching Urban and Regional Planning and Building Information Modeling courses at Mapúa Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture, Industrial Design, and the Built Environment, involves his students in social housing projects he spearheads to expose them to real-life situations.

One of his recent projects is the vertical sidewalk-medium rise building, a multi-story structure designed to mitigate floods, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and create livelihood opportunities for the urban poor. Together with renowned architect Felino Palafox, Jr., he also spearheaded the Estero de San Miguel Project, which was unveiled recently.
The buildings use natural light and ventilation, have green walls made from steel matting suitable for growing pechay or spinach, and have rainwater and grey-water catching system useful for collecting water during the rainy season and recycling of household water. Both were also designed to be conducive to the development of micro, small, medium, and home-based enterprises.

While it can be said that architects can take the lead role in mitigating the effects of climate change, environment-friendly practices can start at homes and in schools.
“The government has enacted laws addressing climate change. What needs to be done now is instill green living in the future generations. Simple things like practicing the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) at home and work in every opportunity can have an impact,” he concluded.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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