Bernardo M. Villegas
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Green Buildings

           As part of the new skylines of Makati and Fort Bonifacio, there are more and more edifices that are being labeled "green buildings" that are able to obtain the L.E.E.D Certification.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  The most impressive and conspicuous is the Zuellig Building on Paseo de Roxas that has risen in record time.  We have to congratulate the Zuellig owners and management for setting the trend towards environmentally friendly buildings in the Metro Mania area. 

          Developed by the U.S Green Building Council, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction operations and maintenance solutions.  LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed as achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health:  sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

          Let me briefly summarize what LEED intends to measure for the benefit of real estate developers, architects and financiers who wish to contribute to a more healthy physical and human environment as the economic growth rate of the Philippines accelerates to 7% or more in the next ten to twenty years.  The criterion called "sustainability of site" discourages development on previously undeveloped land:  it seeks to minimize a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; controls storm-water runoff; and promotes reduction of erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.  In this regard, we should celebrate the practice of real estate developers like PHINMA Properties, DMCI Homes, SMDC, and others developing condominium housing units in the inner cities of making better use of properties in such residential areas as Sampaloc, Quezon City (especially New Manila), San Juan and even suburbs along the SLEX.  These areas have already their infrastructures, both physical and social (like schools and churches) and do not require undeveloped lands.

          The second criterion, water efficiency, strives to encourage smarter use of water, inside and out.  Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient fixtures and fittings inside and water conscious landscaping outside.  I am proud to say that a nephew of mine, NIKE entrepreneur Mike Arcenas, together with his very innovative green architect, Luigi Sison, have constructed a most efficient green residence in Hillsborough.  This house makes maximum use of rain water, sun light and air circulation to save on both energy and water.  Another friend of mine, Architect Miguel Guerrero Jr., is already setting a trend in designing green buildings for lost-cost housing (as in the case of Bani, Pangasinan) and bread-and-breakfast facilities (especially in Ilocos Norte).  These young architects are paving the way for better use especially of water in the coming era of water shortages.  It is already a foregone conclusion that in the next ten to twenty years, the greatest challenge to the world will no longer be the shortage of energy, but the shortage of food and water.

          Although the coming years will see the Philippines enjoying larger capacity of electric energy and lower electricity costs because of the massive investments we are now being made by both local (e.g. San Miguel Corporation, Metrobank, Metro Pacific, Henry Sy group, the Aboitizes, the Lopezes, etc), as well as foreign groups (AES, KEPCO), there will always be the need to economize on the use of energy.  Under LEED, the criterion "energy and atmosphere"  encourages a wide variety of energy-wise strategies:  commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems and lighting; the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on site or off-site; and other innovative measures.

          Then there is the criterion of materials and resources, purported to encourage the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials.  It promotes waste reduction as well as reuse and recycling, and particularly rewards the reduction of waste at a product's source.  Indoor environmental quality promotes strategies that improve indoor air as well those that provide access to natural daylight and views and improve acoustics. "Locations and linkages" encourages building on previously developed or infill sites and away from environmentally sensitive areas.  Credits are assigned to buildings that are built near already existing infrastructure, community resources and transport facilities in locations that promote access to open space for walking physical activity and time outdoors.

          LEED also tries to measure "awareness and education" which prompts home builders and real estate professionals to provide tenants and building managers (a profession that TESDA schools can include in their curriculum planning) with the education and tools they need to understand what makes their building green and how to make the most of those features.  Finally, bonus points are given to projects that make use of innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building's performance well beyond what is required by other LEED credits.  There are also rewards for projects that include a LEED Accredited Professional in the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to the design and construction program.  I earnestly hope that our future generation of architects, civil engineers, construction entrepreneurs, real estate developers and financiers will be very conscious of these LEED criteria as they prepare the next generation of residential, office industrial, and commercial buildings that will be made both necessary and possible by the high economic growth that the Philippines will be enjoying in the coming decades.  For comments, my email address is