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Opinion

On architectural sustainability in the Philippines

On architectural sustainability in the Philippines
The Atrium of Iris Towers at Tivoli Garden Residences (Courtesy of DMCI Homes)

By Gizel M. Salabao

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The recent approval of the bill on green vehicles marks the Philippines’ initiative on living a more sustainable life. With the country’s natural resources facing a roller coaster ride of both depletion and increase, the motivation to live more ecologically friendly is becoming stronger.

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While grand plans of country-wide reforestation, environmental protection, and electric vehicle implementation for public transportation may be a bit complex and time-consuming, there are still easier and more affordable ways of demonstrating ecologically-inclined developments. A good example of this is green architecture or green construction.

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While the term may denote a fashionable trend in today’s context, green architecture is an effective way of living sustainably by using of smart strategies and natural resources without having an adverse effect on the environment.

Use of Indigenous Materials
One concept of green construction is using sturdy materials that are recycled or reused. Filipino architect Francisco Mañosa is known for using local materials and traditional design concepts that have a positive environmental impact. His home, which is deeply Filipino inspired, utilizes bamboos, hardwood floorings and mother-of-pearl overlaid walls to name a few. Local materials like these are cheaper and would not need much energy for transportation, unlike imported ones. Contrary to popular belief, these materials can actually produce sturdy homes with the help of current construction technologies.

Incorporation of Natural Airflow and Lighting
Air conditioners in buildings are known for using too much energy, which is unnecessary even under the heat of the Philippine sun. Passive green design is a simple strategy that involves strategically locating windows for more air to pass through. A good design strategy incorporating this is condo developer DMCI Homes’ “Lumiventt”. The technology, based from the terms “lumen” or light and “ventus” or wind, allows natural light and ambient air to permeate through their buildings. The technology was first introduced in their Tivoli Garden Residences in Metro Manila and has been receiving positive feedbacks since.

Gardens and ponds can help add in ambience for passive cooling as well as give an aesthetic façade.

Retrofitting
While constructing new houses for a passive green design might be ideal, existing homes can also be retrofitted to apply the design. Appropriately ventilated houses can already add to the ambient temperature, as well as added plants and bushes to gardens.

While renewable technology such as solar power and wind energy in the Philippines might still have a long way to go, applying smart sustainable techniques is the next best thing. The Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC) certainly eyed this as its primary goal. Their recently developed Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) Program has a Green Building Rating System that encourages contractors and developers to develop building designs with “sustainability in mind”.

Their aim is to make the Philippines an advocate of sustainable development, which focuses on meeting the needs of today’s generation without resulting to negative consequences for the future generations.



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