Eco-Friendly progress: Calls for green architecture intensified
Ainjeliz de la Torre-Orong (The Freeman) - October 11, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — With the continuous boom of the construction industry, particularly in Cebu, the call for green architecture has intensified in order to protect the environment amidst progress.

Green or sustainable architecture is an approach in construction that aims to lessen the harmful effects of infrastructure projects to the environment and the people.

Urbanshiftstudio design director Architect Joel Ong, a certified BERDE professional, said green architecture has already gained momentum in Cebu, although there’s still a long way to go.

The Philippine government, through the Department of Energy, recognizes BERDE as the National Voluntary Green Building Rating System through the Department of Energy (DOE). The system is used to measure a building’s performance, not just on national and local building codes, but also on environmental laws and mandatory standards. BERDE’s process goes with internationally-recognized methodologies for developing standards, as well as the Quality Assurance Guide for Green Building Rating Tools.

“There’s still a long way to go, but there is already traction going. There’s already a handful of buildings already certified as “green” buildings by rating systems such as LEED and BERDE,” said Archt. Ong.

Aside from BERDE, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED is the most widely used green building system in the world that serves as a framework for highly-efficient and cost-saving green buildings.

Apart from private companies, he added that some local government units, like the Mandaue City government, are at the forefront of building green by implementing a green building ordinance.

Mandaue City’s ordinance, which was approved in 2015, mandates all building owners to construct structures that use environment-friendly methods and should use materials that would be least harmful to the environment.

Further, to boost the thrust in green architecture, Ong said a lot of architects, engineers and designers have already been integrating sustainable features into the design and construction of structures.

“Recently, with the adoption of different green building rating systems such as LEED, BERDE, WELL, EDGE (to name a few), there are a growing number of professionals who are working on getting accreditation to be consultants to sustainable design, construction and operations of our buildings,” he said.

But with the relatively new idea of green architecture over conventional design and construction, Ong said there are also several challenges they have to overcome, including the education of the public in green architecture.

“First challenge would be the lack of education of the clients with regards to these systems. Usually they are put off by the high upfront costs in implementation, but once they see the benefits to the bottom line long-term, they are becoming more open-minded in adopting,” he explained.

Further, he said there is a need for LGUs to back the idea of eco-friendly structures.

“LGU support is still lacking. We need more cities like Mandaue City to enforce a green building program and to require buildings to be built sustainably and give incentives in doing so. A lot of our design and construction professionals are very open to building green, we need buy-in from the rest of our partners in the industry to be able to implement this,” Ong added.

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