Green Breakthroughs 2016: Building with the Environment

In recent years, people seem to have finally realized how much human activities have damaged the environment, and this realization finally made people acknowledge the need to take steps to reverse as much of the damage as possible and protect the environment from further destruction. This is why it is now more common to hear people talking about “green” initiatives, from tree-planting activities to the cleaning of waterways to recycling and waste segregation.

These days, even the construction industry has joined the green movement. Many of the world’s engineers, architects, and construction companies are now striving to build structures that are not only strong and attractive, but also compliant to standards that ensure minimal negative impact on the environment. In the Philippines, there is an initiative that commits to promote environment-friendly and energy-efficient design and construction to achieve the goal of sustainable development.

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Philippine Green Building Initiative

The Philippines Green Building Initiative (PGBI) is a non-profit initiative by a body of professional organizations that are involved in one way or another with the construction industry. Their story began back in 2008, when a team of architects and engineers came up with the idea of creating an organization that will study the deleterious effects of the global shift in temperatures in the country’s build environment. Their idea catalyzed a discussion within the industry about global warming, green buildings, high incidence of pulmonary maladies in urban environments, soaring electricity rates, and other related issues.

In 2009, the United Architects of the Philippines, ASHRAE Philippines, and PSVARE—the main proponents of the concept—agreed to invite other trailblazing groups who may want to take part in the movement. And in March of 2010, PGBI was finally incorporated when the founding member associations signed a memorandum. There were a total of eight founding member organizations, namely:

• American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Philippines Chapter (ASHRAE Philippines)
• International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
• Heritage Conservation Society (HCS)
• Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID)
• Integrated Institute of Electrical Engineers (IIEE)
• Geological Society of the Philippines (GSP)
• United Architects of the Philippines (UAP)
• Philippine Society of Ventilating, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigerating Engineers (PSVARE)

Green Breakthroughs 2016

As part of their advocacy to address issues concerning the impact of construction on the environment, PGBI constantly finds ways to impart knowledge on how industry-related establishments can comply not only with Philippine environmental laws, but also the laws of nature. One of the activities they spearheaded towards this end is Green Breakthroughs 2016, a Green Building Conference that was held last September 15 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City.

At the conference, there were several presentations and panel discussions that touched on the following: Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), green building, resource efficiency and sustainability, and green cities. The discussions sought to help participants understand how energy management not only helps reduce construction expenses, but also significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions, thereby helping save the environment at the same time.

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The conference also included recognition of the country’s green building champions. One of the awardees was Italpinas Development Corporation (IDC), the company that started their Philippine eco-friendly mixed-use buildings projects in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao. The company has actually already received a number of awards for Primavera Residences—their flagship project—and Primavera City, another ambitious project in the works in Cagayan de Oro. The recognition from PGBI is yet another proof that they are the leaders where the “greening” of the country’s construction industry is concerned.

Considering how important the discussion on climate change and environmental protection has become in recent years, it certainly looks like PGBI is on the right track with their activities and movement. After Green Breakthroughs, it is safe to say that we can expect more green initiatives from them, all aimed towards helping the country do its part in keeping the environment healthy. After all, included in the group’s mission are such things as developing a green building rating system; developing a process of rating, verification, inspections, and building audits; and establishing a system of awards and recognition, based on the created standards and ratings.

Green Breakthroughs 2016 is an excellent start to an ambitious endeavor, and with commitment and passion, it isn’t impossible for this green movement to soon see the tangible fruits of their efforts. The country is fortunate that brilliant minds have come together to form the PGBI. With this initiative in place and such establishments as IDC working towards sustainable development, we can all look forward to a future in harmony with nature.

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