Green building architects key to reducing emissions
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Architects and engineers of sustainable or green buildings provide the crucial solution to help the country achieve its commitment to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030, a former environment secretary said.

Heherson Alvarez made the statement during the gathering of architects and engineers dubbed as “Green Breakthrough 2018” held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City last weekend.

“As architects and engineers, your role is to help this country achieve its commitment in the Paris Agreement to reduce 70 percent of our CO2 emissions by 2030 and help maintain global warming by 1.5?C or below. Your sustainable designs provide one of the most vital solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez, a former Climate Change Commission secretary and senator, said the leading climate scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed in their latest United Nations special report that global warming is worsening and occurring more rapidly than expected.

“These climate change experts reminded the world that we only have 12 years to limit the warming of the earth to 1.5?C to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change,” Alvarez said.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries of the world agreed to keep global temperatures well below 2?C. But, according to the latest IPCC report, warming should be limited to 1.5?C or below by 2030. The IPCC warned that warming of 2?C will result in disastrous impacts. The half a degree difference will significantly worsen the risks of droughts, typhoons, floods, heatwaves and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The .5?C additional warming will completely wipe out the corals leading to extreme hunger for the world population.

According to Alvarez, keeping the warming at 1.5?C will be most challenging. The Asian Development Bank has also identified the Philippines as one of the Asian countries that will double its carbon dioxide emissions by 2035.

“There is a need for rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, particularly coal. There has to be a massive, drastic and immediate shift to renewables in our energy systems and the eradication of emissions from our transport systems and industrial sector,” he said.

Alvarez pointed out that the building sector accounts for 36 percent of the Philippines’ total energy consumption next to the transport sector and produces 35 to 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. The McKinsey Global Institute, which has studied the issue on a global basis, estimates that four of the five most cost-effective measures taken to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions involve building efficiency.

“Your role, therefore, as builders of sustainable buildings is critical for the survival of mankind... I challenge you to be in the frontline in our battle to curb carbon emissions,” Alvarez said, addressing the event organizer Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI).

The PGBI, a not-for-profit organization composed of different professional associations, is a leader in promoting energy-efficient and environment-friendly design and construction. The local partner of the International Finance Corp. of the World Bank is instrumental in the crafting and promotion of the Green Building Code. 

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