When I came to the Philippines many years ago, I remember being surprised to notice that most condominium units did not have terraces or balconies and that most of the restaurant guests were not dining al fresco. In Italy and in most of the European countries I have visited, it is rare to see contemporary residential buildings without balconies, or people not enjoying the al fresco areas in most cafés and restaurants. On top of that, considering the warm Philippine climate, I used to think it was rather unusual that people here were not taking advantage of the open-air spaces in shaded areas.
And so when I started to develop green buildings in the Philippines as Italpinas Development Corporation’s (IDC) CEO, I made sure that every building I design and build with the company has units with terraces and balconies, indoor areas with big openings in at least two sides, and commercial units with al fresco areas. These features, which are now becoming more in demand because of the pandemic, do not only provide a healthier environment for the users, they also reduce power and water bills and contribute in saving the environment.
It is fulfilling for me to have clients approach me to tell me how much they appreciate their property in our green building. They are pleased about the reduction in their power bill and grateful for the open-air spaces within the property. The use of those spaces became more important during those several months when all of us were confined at home. Last but certainly not least, these customers love the fact that alongside having these features, the value of their property continues to increase. In fact, there are several studies showing that units in green buildings have higher and faster value appreciation compared to their non-green counterparts.
This, I believe, is key to making sustainability more appealing to all. If an option makes a positive impact on a person’s financial status, he or she is more likely to choose that option. More people will adopt green living and a sustainable lifestyle if they know that it will affect their finances positively and within a short period of time. This is what we are doing in IDC.
The real challenge is to be able to deliver green properties within the same price range as the regular or non-green developments. The company I run is able to do that through innovative ways of building and designing our projects. One way is through the use of passive green design strategies, which are solutions implemented at the early stage of design. These strategies allow the building to maximize the use of some natural resources.
We are able to reduce the use of aircon by increasing natural ventilation in all units and in the common areas. We also reduce the need for artificial light by allowing more natural light to enter the units through shaded windows. The reduction in water consumption through water recycling and rainwater harvesting is another achievement, and in terms of active green features, we also use photovoltaic panels to produce a certain amount of renewable energy that is given free to the condominium corporation.
These features, along with our creative design, are some of the things that make us and our products stand out in the market. This also puts to rest the misconception that living in a green development is an expensive decision. My point of view is that there are many people out there who have not made the decision to enjoy the green lifestyle because of the misconception that it will be expensive. When more people discover that living green is really a money-saving decision that also allows one to have a healthier lifestyle and a better environment, I’m sure they will embrace this new and sustainable lifestyle.
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