WGBC pushes for more green buildings

In Photo: Net building

The London, United Kingdom-based World Green Building Council (WGBC) said the welfare of the people must and should be the top agenda of developing and maintaining a building.

Tai Lee Siang, chairman of the WGBC, emphasized this point in the recently concluded ”Collectively Shaping our Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action for the Building Sector conference in Makati City. In our bottom-up approach, we believe that the well-being should at the heart of your building,” Tai said.

Laguna Lake Development Authority building

In his presentation called “Running the Green Race,” he cited the seven elements essential in WGBC’s bottom-up approach to develop an ideal building for the work force. These are indoor and air quality ventilation, thermal comfort, daylighting and lighting, noise and acoustics, interior layout and active design, biophilia and views and location and access to amenities.

He encouraged building owners to develop a healthy office environment that has low concentrations of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants, as well as high ventilation rates. “In the WGBC studies, there was a 101-percent increase in cognitive scores for workers in green, well-ventilated office,” he said.

Tai said a healthy office must have a comfortable temperature range which the staff can manage. In their study, he said there was a 67-percent decline in staff performance if the office is too hot and 4 percent if is too cold.

Zuellig Building

He pointed out a building must have the proper lighting and daylighting schemes, because they found out an average worker sleeps for 46 minutes when they are placed near the windows.

Building owners must also install materials that reduce noise to enable workers to focus on their work. With a high volume of noise, he said there is 66-percent decline in the staff performance as a result of distracting noise.

Tai pointed out that design is also important to induce a work environment that is pro-employee which gives them flexibility and ease of use. He said flexible workspaces enable workers to feel they control the workload and promotes loyalty to the company.

He said it is important for a building to have a green component inside the office, as the WGBC found out that 7-percent to 12-percent improvement in processing time at a call center when the staff “had a view of nature.”

Access to transport routes, bicycle lanes, parking and showers and a range of health food choices are an important in today’s workplace to enable the staff to live a work-life system. Tai said €27 million in savings were generated through reducing absenteeism as a result of the Dutch-cycle-to-work scheme.

Arya building

Also known as the polder model, the program is a decision-making scheme that is a spinoff on the acclaimed Dutch version of consensus-based economic and social policy-making in the 1980s and 1990s.

On its top-down approach, Tai said the WGBC has crafted a road  map to ensure the greening of the building or pushing for a net zero will be followed. The first step calls for all new buildings and major renovations to be net zero starting in 2030. This means no buildings should be built below net-zero standards beyond 2030. All buildings should be net zero by 2050.

The second goal aims to have trained 75,000 on net-zero building by 2030 and 300,000 by 2050.

Net-zero buildings, also known as zero-energy buildings, have a zero- energy consumption. This means that the total energy consumed by buildings is almost equal or somewhat equal to the amount of renewable energy produced on the side.

In the Philippines the famous green buildings are the Zuellig Building, Laguna Lake Development Authority building, Arya building and the Net building.

Tai said the greening process must be accelerated because of the huge impact of climate change.

“We are clearly at a tipping point. Let’s act now,” he said.

He added people and the government must change the way they do their businesses.

Tai lamented that the current process of development focused on specialization has also become a liability because it has been truncated or compressed sometimes leading inferior quality. “We must close the gap and feedback,” he said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC) President Christopher de la Cruz said the organization looks forward to pushing the advocacy work to meet the government’s carbon-reduction targets. “We believe it is through geen building that we can meet these targets. Together, we will transform the property sector one building at a time. together we can green the Philippines, one city at a time.”

De la Cruz said the key challenge right now is raising the competency of architects and engineers on greening buildings through continuing education and training. Moreover, he added that there is also a big need to address the availability of green financing and, at the same time, raising awareness on how this can help in supporting current operating expense management strategies added.

De la Cruz added the Philippines is advanced in terms of uptake. However, he stressed that the PHILGBC wants to see a substantial increase in the number of projects being certified as green. “The value of certification needs to be communicated more during green-building education campaigns.”

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Rizal Raoul Reyes has covered the information technology, science, education and property beats. Before joining BusinessMirror, he worked with the Independent Daily News, Manila Bulletin and and two computer trade publications. Furthermore, he also had two-year stint as stringer of Gulf News Manila.