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Guest Post: DMCI Homes: Why sustainability in design is an important part of the real estate development

by Gizel M. Salabao

DMCI Homes, one of the leading Philippine real estate developers, focuses on the advancement of urban-styled residences with resort-like amenities that highlight the cross between modern city lifestyle and green living. It’s part of the D.M. Consunji construction company, one of the pioneers in the application of advanced building technologies in the country. Established in 1954, the company built its reputation around finishing construction ahead of time and catering to middle class families.

Last 2012, DMCI Homes’ efforts in promoting the importance of environmental awareness were emphasized when they joined the Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC), a non-profit organization that encourages green building practices in the country. With their eyes set on sustainability, DMCI Homes made measures in order to obtain certification for PhilGBC’s BERDE Program’s Green Building Rating System.

In Search Opt Media’s email interview for Ecoseed, Senior Marketing Manager of DMCI Homes Mr. Jan O. Venturanza shares the company’s insights on their green living advocacy and the importance of sustainability in the Philippines.

The Picnic Grove at Levina Place

The Picnic Grove at Levina Place, a feature of DMCI Homes, not only adds aesthetic weight to their condominiums but also contributes to their sustainability and design. Image courtesy of DMCI Homes.

Q: DMCI Homes joined the Philippine Green Building Council just last year. Would you say that sustainability in living and architectural design is one of the priorities of DMCI Homes?

“Our company believes in meeting today’s needs without compromising the future generation’s ability to meet their own needs. Sustainability is an integral part of our creation process. We support sustainable development by building communities that not only complement the Philippines’ tropical climate, but also promote a healthy lifestyle to the residents."

Q: Would you say that the Philippines is becoming more aware of and more inclined to the importance of sustainable living practices or do we still have a long way to go? In what ways could the country develop and incorporate a greener lifestyle?

“The Philippines, as a nation, is aware of the importance of sustainability. The Philippine Agenda 21, our nation’s blueprint for sustainable development was already adopted in the late 1990s and we are making good progress in implementing sustainable living practices with the help of both public and private sectors. Our country should integrate ecological considerations into our economic activities and by demonstrating that sound ecological policies benefit development. We encourage the people to adopt this principle and implement it on their scale. Sustainable development not only covers environmental protection issues, it also includes economic development, social reform and empowerment of the people. Although green advocacy in the Philippines still has a long way to go, current efforts by the government, NGOs and private companies seem to indicate a promising sustainable future. In the property development industry, for instance, more and more companies are joining Green Building Councils and getting their projects certified for green compliance."

Q: What are DMCI Homes’ future plans in integrating a more sustainable design in your future projects?

“We intend to learn more about new green technologies and apply them as necessary in our own projects. DMCI Homes will continue to build responsibly, make development choices with reduced environmental impact and promote holistic living through our resort-style communities."

Q: In what ways does DMCI Homes incorporate sustainable living in your current projects?

“One of the company’s architectural innovations includes Lumiventt, from ‘lumen’ meaning light and ‘ventus’ meaning wind. This design technology for our high-rise structures allows ambient light and fresh air to permeate the building and all unit spaces. Sky Patios, 3-storey high openings located at the front and back of every five floor levels, and breezeways, vents at both ends of the building, allow cross-ventilation. Employing basic principles of airflow, Lumiventt design technology draws stale air out while letting in cool breezes. The introduction of single–loaded hallways and central garden atriums not only improve aesthetics but also give a wide open feel to the building interior. By harnessing environmental elements such as air and ambient lighting, the building becomes energy efficient, at the same promotes healthy living spaces for our residents.

“Other efforts like the following are basic to our projects [include]: use of steel jambs instead of wooden jambs, use of pervious pavers, use of LED lights, installation of Sewage Treatment Plants, tree or vegetation-lined roads, redevelopment of brownfields, and use of landscaped podiums on concrete roof slabs."

The Sky Patio at Torre de Manila

The Sky Patio at Torre de Manila, one of the aspects in DMCI's Lumiventt. Image courtesy of DMCI Homes.

Q: DMCI Homes is known for your resort-style developments. How does this kind of style relate to sustainability?

“The design of most tropical resort hotels has a natural affinity to sustainable design. In our own projects, we have adapted and improved on standard resort hotel features like wide open spaces, reduced building footprints, natural illumination and ventilation and lush landscaping.

“Aside from designing energy efficient and healthy buildings, our resort-style communities promote sustainable lifestyle. We maintain low-density projects that consider the property’s carrying capacity. A smaller population requires less resource, in that way; the physical and social environment within the community does not degrade and can keep on nurturing the residents for years to come."

Q: Can you please describe how energy efficient DMCI's projects are compared to the "usual" kind of condominiums and buildings we have here in the Philippines? What is your advantage over them?

“For example, a condo dweller probably needs to switch on at least two light bulbs and perhaps even a fan or an air-conditioner in his/her living area for most of the day. With Lumiventt, he/she may no longer need to, because the design maximizes the influx of natural light and wind throughout the condo unit. This is only a simple example that demonstrates potential savings on energy consumption."

Q: With the Philippines facing typhoons and floods at a yearly basis, what are DMCI's developmental "tactics" in your architectural designs in order to lessen the risks brought upon by natural calamities?

“The projects we develop are designed to work in and with the country’s tropical climate. With Lumiventt design technology for high-rises, we ensure that there is cross–ventilation inside the buildings which is especially important during the dry season. Moisture levels inside the building maintained during the summer heat with the help of central garden atriums that hold vegetation and water features. And as precaution for the wet season, first we make it a point to develop in flood-free areas, provide sump pits to collect rain water and elevate the developments at least 3 meters from the street level. As we are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the projects we develop are compliant with National Structural Code of the Philippines, the buildings have deflection and can withstand magnitude 7- 8 earthquakes. We go over and beyond what is necessary to ensure our residents’ safety and security."

Q: Does DMCI have other campaigns or is planning to join campaigns that promote green living or sustainable practices?

“DMCI Homes believes in giving back to the community so we have an umbrella corporate social responsibility program called Kaakbay. Kaakbay ng Kalikasan [translated as “Hand-in-hand with Nature"] is a specialized program that deals with environmental protection and ecological aspects of sustainable development. With this program, we are able to support our community’s local government unit (LGU) projects such as Adopt-an-Estero program in Quezon City. Aside from clean-up activities, we also share resources with the LGUs when it comes to educating the constituents about green living practices."

Sustainability in design varies, depending on the needs and the climate of one country. What might be a suitable design for buildings in the U.S. might not be for the buildings in some parts of Asia. The designs developed by DMCI Homes are not only aimed at being energy efficient but it also takes into consideration the Philippines’ unpredictable weather conditions, which makes the technology not only environmentally well-grounded but also useful in preventing the effects of natural calamities.

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