DESIGN EXPERT:

Energy-efficient buildings offer cost-savings, productivity

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DEVELOPERS can benefit profitably from adopting a “sustainable way of thinking” in designing and building their projects, due to long-term cost-savings, as well as the premium that can be attached to so-called green buildings, a renewable energy expert said in an interview.

Incorporating sustainability into the integrated design of a building from the very beginning will increase the value of the building, Nadir Abdessemed, a consultant for sustainability and energy efficiency in the built environment for German engineering firm Transsolar told The Manila Times.

“A quality that you find in sustainable spaces is a connection to the environment, which is a very intelligent design program, spaces that make you feel delightful,” Abdessemed said in an interview following a public lecture sponsored by the Goethe Institut-Philippines at the University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday.

“There’s certainly a market niche for that, and if you are able to say I have the most sustainable building in the market, then you will make a lot of money.”

Abdessemed acknowledged that the cost of putting up a green building is slightly more expensive compared with a conventional design, but said that developers need to look at the long-term value of the building’s operations.

“There’s actually a huge financial interest in sustainable thinking, that you know that certain design measures will have longer lasting life cycles than just the three-year pay back period,” Abdessemed said.

For business locators, the main selling point of a green building is usually the lower operating costs it offers.

In an earlier interview, KMC Savills Inc. Vice President for Marketing and Landlord Services Yves Luethi said that the main interest of prospective business tenants in a green building is the cost-cutting features it offers.

“Operational monthly cost savings for tenants can be up to 78 percent compared to an old Grade B building and 20 percent to a conventional Grade A building,” Luethi said.

Aside from the marketability of green buildings, Abdessemed stressed that if sustainable elements are incorporated in the design process from the very beginning, significant savings can be realized from building systems and later operations.

“If I invest a little bit more into the start, maybe I will be able to save on systems and machinery. I will not only be able to save on these systems so that I won’t need to buy such a big cooling tower or chiller, but also I will save on square meters where I will put the equipment,” Abdessemed explained.

Moreover, Abdessemed emphasized sustainability offers other financial benefits to business aside from cutting operating costs. He noted that sustainable buildings also help produce happier and healthier employees.

Leechiu Property Consultants Chief Executive Officer David Leechiu in an earlier interview expressed a similar view, pointing out that increased employee productivity was one of the key advantages for businesses locating in green buildings.

“Not only do green buildings help the environment recover, but they also present businesses and tenants with economic benefits that make for an excellent investment,” Leechiu said .

Leechiu cited separate studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Green Building Council, that concluded green spaces improve employee productivity. Particular features that contribute to this are better indoor air quality and ventilation, thermal comfort, and noise reduction, which are all attributed to the green design elements of buildings.

In conclusion, Abdessemed expressed his optimism for the growing awareness of sustainable design in the Philippines, in part because of the talent the country has to produce sustainable buildings.

“What I want to say is that there is so much talent [in the Philippines]to develop such an integrated design process, which can lead to improved situations that will pay back by themselves. Make use of the talent you have here and think about certain problems a little bit longer and a little bit more intensely, and it will pay back very quickly,” Abdessemed said.

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