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How ‘green’ is your building?

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By Dylan Afuang

If we want to live a life that will ultimately benefit the world’s fragile environment, then every home, office — or any place where we spend most of our time — should be a ‘green building.’

What is a green building?

The World Green Building Council describes these structures whose design, construction, or operation “reduce or eliminate negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment.”

Aside from being a house or an office, a green building can be any kind of structure, too, such as a school, a hospital, as long as they contain features that have an “efficient use of energy, water and renewable energy, such as solar energy,” and “consider the environment in design, construction and operation,” among others.
While some developers have been quick to market their projects as a ‘green’, don’t immediately believe it as there are requirements that have to be complied with before a building is truly green.

Taking LEED

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a worldwide, third-party green program that certifies green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it serves to “enhance environmental awareness among architects and building contractors, and to encourage the design and construction of energy-efficient, water-conserving buildings that use green resources and materials.”

The USGBC also touts LEED to be the “globally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods.”

The LEED certification process is broad, but generally measures nine key categories of a green building project, which could be in the form of houses, commercial buildings, interior renovations, schools, or neighborhood developments:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Location
  • Awareness and Education
  • Innovation in Design
  • Regional Priority

A project is then awarded with any of the four levels of LEED certification, depending on how many points it has achieved, which are: Certified (40 to 49 points); Silver (50 to 59 points); Gold (60 to 79 points); and Platinum (higher than 80 points.) LEED claims to have certified over 2.4 million square feet of properties, and that includes the Empire State Building in the US and even in our country such as the Zuellig Building in Makati.

Going BERDE

Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence, or the BERDE program, was created in 2009 by the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC) “as an appropriate response to the Philippine building industry’s need to proactively address the negative impacts of climate change.”

Working in a similar way to LEED, BERDE serves as a “tool to assess, measure, monitor, and certify the performance of green building projects.”

The program assesses a project based on the same categories also found in the LEED process, like Water and Energy Consumption, and Indoor Environment Quality, to name a few, but BERDE gives a project the following ratings: Minimum practice (one star, 51 to 60 points earned); Good practice (two stars, 61 to 70 points); Exemplar practice (three stars, 71 to 80 points); World Class (four stars, 81 to 90 points); and World leader (five stars, higher than 91 points).
One of the most notable BERDE certified buildings in Metro Manila is the Arya Residences in BGC. The upscale residential condo has also received a Gold certification from LEED in 2016, making it the first residential building in the country with two green building certifications.

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