Green building is in. As more and more developers incorporate eco-friendly elements into their buildings, green building is starting to become a necessity rather than a novelty, property advisors observed.
“Green building is more of necessity now than a novelty,” Julius Guevara, director for research and advisory services of global property advisor Colliers International, told The Manila Times.
Guevara said the green building trend is becoming evident in the office property sector, where both developers and corporate tenants see the concept as a boon to production and income.
“Apart from the operational cost savings, some tenants have recognized that green buildings are healthier buildings for their workers, and reduces absences,” Guevara said.
To Michael McCullough, co-founder and managing director of another property advisor, KMC Mag Group, developers ride on the green development trend not only to make their township projects healthy and sustainable, but also to command higher rental rates because of its features.
“There are a lot of benefits to building or investing in green buildings, such as being able to provide a healthier workplace for employees and increasing savings and cost-efficiency,” pointed out McCullough.
He noted that green buildings use 25 percent less energy, cutting down up to 19 percent of operational expenses.
Based on McCullough’s calculations, green buildings have an average increase in return of investment of about 19.2 percent.
“These benefits make these buildings more attractive to multinational companies, which are increasingly looking for spaces that will reflect their sustainability commitments,” said McCullough, who specializes in commercial real estate brokerage.
Similarly, Guevara said a lot of multinational companies are actually requiring their offices to be located in green buildings.
“Some of the multinationals are already requiring their office worldwide to be located in green buildings, as part of their corporate sustainability thrust,” Guevara noted. “This is already spilling over to the Philippines.”
Punch windows make a comeback
Henry Torremonia, Jones Lang Lasalle Philippines’ property management head, has a more detailed observation.
Torremonia said buildings in the country’s business districts are now veering away from floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls, which were popular in the 1990’s, when a lot of the iconic corporate towers in Makati were built.
He said punch windows imbedded on concrete walls are making a comeback in corporate developments, primarily as an attempt to keep heat out of the buildings and to lower air-conditioning costs and energy usage.
He said air-conditioning cost in most office buildings accounts for most of the energy usage, or around 34 percent, while lighting takes up 30 percent, office equipment, 16 percent, and water supply, nine percent.
“Thus, efforts to maximize air-conditioning now also include adjusting temperature levels when the climate suddenly changes or when there are less occupants in a given area; installing two types of shades in offices—black-out shades to keep out direct sunlight and a medium shade just to allow light to filter through while providing privacy,” Torremonia said.
Despite being able to cut down operational costs, green building—or fitting in eco-friendly elements to an edifice—could add up a bit to the property’s development cost, Guevara pointed out.
“Yes, the cost is at least five-percent higher for the basic elements to as high as 30 percent,” Guevara said.
But then, he pointed out that costs are now falling due to advancements in technology.
“But costs are falling. Advancements in technology and manufacturing are making them go down,” he stressed.
Green building stamps galore
One sign that the green building concept is growing is the entry of more office developments with various green building certifications into the Philippine market.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) gives, is an example.
The LEED is used worldwide as a comprehensive assessment tool for sustainability in environmental design and performance of buildings.
KMC Mag Group, the Philippine associate of global property advisor Savills, noted that at the end of 2015, 22 buildings in Makati and Bonifacio Global City were either applying for LEED or were already LEED-certified.
Another certification developers are aiming for is the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), which is given by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.
At present, there are only two EDGE-certified developments in the Philippines: the Tiarra Premiere Homes & Delsey Homes by Imperial Homes in Batangas, and the Primavera Residences in Cagayan De Oro by Italpinas Development Corporation.