Renewable energy as the future of property development in the Philippines

In Photo: Via Verde’s Tiarra Premiere model units from Imperial Homes.

column-amor maclangAS demand for power and energy prices continue to surge, property developers and other industry players are searching for more ways to help promote a more efficient way of sustaining the daily affairs of the Filipino household.

With developers realizing the role that they play in promoting renewable energy (RE) technologies as more viable, long-term solutions to the demands of today’s real-estate market, we can surely expect the emergence of future developments anchored on RE technologies as more players contend with this shift.

“Renewable energy is the thing of the future,” Imperial Homes Corp. (IHC) President and CEO Emma Imperial said. “With the full support from various sectors and organization generated from these technologies, we see it as the real estate of the future.” Imperial surely knows what she’s talking about, having led Imperial Homes to several pioneering milestones in terms of environment-friendly and energy-sufficient developments.

The latest of such efforts involved the unveiling of their project, Via Verde, a solar-powered mass-housing community of 1,000 homes in Santo Tomas, Batangas. The development, which sits on a 4-hectareproperty, is supported by the Department of Energy  and the Commission on Climate Change, and recognized by the World Bank and International Finance Corp.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla (from left), Imperial Homes Corp. President and CEO Emma Imperial, Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Commission on Climate Change and Jesse Ang of IFC-WB.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla (from left), Imperial Homes Corp. President and CEO Emma Imperial, Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Commission on Climate Change and Jesse Ang of IFC-WB.

A worthy investment

Via Verde offers a combination of row houses and two-bedroom townhouses. Every unit comes with free 500-watt solar panels to allow future homeowners to enjoy lower electricity rates through the leaseback program of Enfinity-Imperial, IHC’s partner.

“These solar-powered homes will dramatically reduce the cost of electricity and provide a greener environment for our low-cost housing projects,” Imperial shared. “It does not pollute our air by releasing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere like many traditional forms of electrical generations do. Therefore, solar energy does not contribute to global warming, acid rain or smog.”

For developers like IHC, investing on RE technologies for real-estate properties is a profitable initiative that yields optimal returns. “As an investment, the payback period [for RE-integrated developments] is between three to five years, and between 8 and 10 years when getting a loan payback,” she explained. “Also, the property appreciates faster compared to regular house and lot developments. Furthermore, it has a multiplier effect that can generate greater benefits, such as savings in fossil-fuel consumption and carbon-emission elimination.”

The project, Imperial added, aims to help alleviate the country’s backlog on mass housing currently pegged at 3 million, as well as to help provide a greener solution against the worsening effects of climate change.

A more conscious approach to doing business

Solar energy is ideal for communities because it is clean, isn’t easily depleted (unlike gas, oil and coal), sustainable, and thus helps protect the environment where families can comfortably live in and children can safely grow in. “By not using any fuel, solar energy does not contribute to the cost and problems of the recovery and transportation of fuel or the storage of radioactive waste,’’ Imperial noted.

The concept behind the Via Verde blueprint is a perfect complement to the ideals being championed by the Switch Right On movement—a groundbreaking RE campaign here in the Philippines that’s been gaining the support of various local and international organizations.

Recent figures shared by the Switch Right On movement—an initiative that we at GeiserMaclang support—show that the Philippines’s  dependence on energy provided by fossil fuels—90 percent of which is being imported, according to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla—1) has been the main reason the country continues to bear the heavy burden of having one of the highest electricity costs in Asia; 2) The prices of coal—an important fossil fuel that has been the primary energy source in the Philippines for several decades—have more than doubled since 2010 and experts do not see any indication of this slowing down. The world has reached an economic tipping point where an increase in cost of fossil fuels and the decrease in cost of RE have made alternative sources of energy more practical.  With developers now beginning to promote a shift toward the use of RE, the local property sector has now taken the first step in making logical solutions to address a host of other issues.  The idea of promoting sustainable sources of power, thus, comes as a welcome development, if not a necessary investment, to help ensure a more progressive growth for the Philippine real-estate industry.

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