The silver lining
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Two months into the lockdown, I can say that I am already getting used to it.

This is not to say that I do not miss playing golf, or going to the mall, or eating out. I do, but as they say, you should always look at the silver lining.

One good thing about this quarantine or stay-at-home imposition by government is that I no longer miss out on going to mass or attending worship services on Sundays, albeit online. Since I teach law on Sundays starting at 8 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon, and I leave the house very early and return late, I no longer have the time to go to church. I do hope that the Catholic Church continues to offer online masses even if attending physically is already allowed.

Another great thing about this quarantine is I seem to be more productive. I can cook at home, exercise everyday by doing Zumba and dance sessions courtesy of YouTube which is the reason why I lost even more weight, conduct online law classes via Zoom and Google Classroom, clean the house, do online shopping of groceries, write my column, do revisions of a book, all in a day. And I still manage to have the time and energy to watch more Korean telenovelas via Netflix. I pay my bills online and no longer have to line up at Bayad Center outlets or go to the bank for that purpose.

I have wanted for a long time to study the Revised Rules on Evidence, the Data Privacy Act, the Personal Property Security Act, and other laws and rules but couldn’t seem to have the time and patience to read these whether in printed or electronic form and understand them at the same time. Thanks to a number of online sources, I was able to attend several online lectures explaining them, and if it were not for the pandemic, then these lectures would not have been available on the net.

Then there are also several self-improvement seminars and other instructional materials online that I have attended while on quarantine, of course, to prevent boredom. For instance, I know now how to fold clothes the Marie Kondo way, how to cook Chinese scallion pancakes. I have registered with a number of providers to attend seminars on Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint. I have a Google account but never noticed the icon on the upper right hand corner where one can find Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Forms, etc. But because the Legal Education Board called on law schools to adopt asynchronous modes of teaching, we had to adapt quickly and learn how to use Zoom and other videoconfering apps for purposes of conducting online lectures, how to conduct quizzes and give assignments online, how to make effective Powerpoint presentations, among others.

Then of course there is this realization that a very good internet connection is now an essential need. All these things that I am doing now would not have been possible if I had not upgraded my internet plan prior to the lockdown.

But getting used to working at home does that mean that I prefer quarantine over freedom to go around. There are things that you cannot do online, like get a nice haircut, have a massage. When the lockdown is over, I hope to continue doing many of these things online. After all, unless a vaccine is discovered for COVID-19, going out should be kept at a minimum and only for essential errands.

From green to healthy

People now talk about “healthy buildings.” After all, health has now become our top priority, and even the local real estate sector has adopted this to make existing as well as future buildings and homes “healthier.”

In a recent webinar conducted by real estate online marketplace Lamudi, Arthaland Corp. executive vice president Christopher Narciso defined a healthy building as one that has features that protect and take care of its occupants, one that promotes practices that keep the occupants well but at the same time facilitates opportunities for them to connect with one another and to live life to the fullest.

Narciso said that they have secured green certifications on their projects. Arthaland Century Pacific Tower, for one, earned LEED, BERDE and EDGE certification, to become the first office building in the country to be triple certified in relation to green standards. Recently, it also received its WELL certification for buildings committed to improving human health.

For her part, Imperial Homes Corp. president and CEO Emma Imperial focused on the use of special raw materials in defining what healthy buildings are. She revealed that they have a technology that comes from Denmark that uses ultra-high-performance concrete. The material is non-porous, and therefore is able resist the growth of bacteria and viruses. In contrast, conventional hollow blocks eventually allow mold to build up inside homes, affecting the respiratory health of the occupants over time, she added.

Meanwhile, noting the shift from the popular term “green buildings” to ‘healthy buildings’, Filigree assistant marketing manager Marla Mendoza explained that the latter carries a more holistic perspective, in a way that properties today go beyond addressing the environmental repercussions that come with construction and maintenance, focusing also on the safety and well-being of the very occupants of the property.

Mendoza said that while the whole point of having green buildings is fighting climate change, there is now this heightened awareness that buildings should be able to support and protect humans and take into account accommodate people’s physical, emotional, and occupational needs.

She noted that healthy buildings may be a major line of defense against infections from pandemics, saying that their real estate project features open and generous spaces, as well as single-corridor hallways which allow social distancing. Most of their units also feature balconies that offer ample space for people to soak in some sunshine.

But Narciso for his part emphasized that in addition to having healthy buildings, it is also crucial for property managers and the residents to be very familiar with the safety measures and healthcare guidelines to ensure that everybody will be safe and healthy.

Narciso noted that while recognizing there are costs in putting up healthy buildings, there are meaningful rewards from it, and that there are far more risks on the opposite side of the coin.

Mendoza added that the current health crisis should prompt industry players to see healthy buildings as a vital and essential part of development and no longer just a statement, for marketing purposes.

She also noted that while green practices have long been associated with luxury developments, there are ways to commit to the standards of health and wellness in properties, while still keeping costs low, emphasizing that the lasting value of what you can get from making a green building has far more worth than the initial cost that you will accumulate.

She added that location becomes even more important since buyers are more aware now of how their homes affect their well-being, with some wishing that they have more open space or are near an essential service facility, say, a supermarket.

Meanwhile, Narciso said that developers are likely to move into the direction of health and wellness practices in design and construction of future buildings, to achieve sustainability and to secure green building certifications.

According to Narciso, a health building should consider the amount of sunlight that comes in, air quality, density, quality of elevators, use of solar power, water-saving features, more open spaces, type of construction materials, and utilization of smart features, such as automation.

Also, Imperial emphasized that people living in cramped areas now are going to be potential buyers of properties with open areas with more space in a safe building that promotes health benefits. Then of course, those with nearby pharmacies and other establishments as well as near the workplace will be more desired.

For comments, email at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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