FirstDibs by Amor Maclang • Published 24 May 2016
Tags: Brand Building, Real Estate

Energy efficiency and Alternative-Energy Options in Real Estate [FirstDibs in Real Estate]

IT has been a year since the Department of Energy (DOE) made the announcement that the Philippines will face an energy crisis anew in the summer of 2015. Citing a dearth in energy reserves, the DOE urged the Philippine government to address the impending crisis, and to start looking for options and other viable solutions.
Since the announcement, however, not nearly enough has been done to address the dwindling energy reserves, and it seems that the search for alternative and more sustainable sources of energy has all been arrested.
This looming energy crisis puts our whole economy at risk; as housing, commerce and other industries in the Philippines are part of the grid. It seems that sky-high energy rates and inevitable power outages await us in the coming year.
The real-estate industry, of course, will not be immune to the difficulties brought on by this energy crisis. Aside from all the additional building and construction costs, finished projects will be especially difficult to valuate, let alone sell.
2015 will probably see an increase in properties boasting sustainability and eco-friendliness. When the energy crisis hits, real-estate developers will most likely respond by going green because, at the end of the day, developers need to sell properties. Should they decide to promote sustainable energy for their developments, they will have to invest millions of pesos for solar panels, better energy backup generation, etc. Energy efficiency and alternative-energy options in real estate will be the tool that will most effectively impact the salability and perceived value of developments.
But it begs the question: Is the Philippine real-estate market ready for green design? Is energy efficiency really that important to Filipinos? Will the market accept this technology for all that it is? Or will it be treated as some kind of novelty, as expensive as it is? Adapting to this technology and to this way of life, I believe, will require some time.
Green building standards
Buildings and structures, in general, have extensive ways of directly and indirectly impacting the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing and demolition, buildings make use of energy, water and other raw materials. Buildings generate waste, and can also pump potentially harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
These are the facts that have prompted the creation of green building standards, certifications and rating systems. These standards are aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the natural environment through sustainable design.
Currently, there is a proliferation of rating and certification programs available in the marketplace to help guide, demonstrate and document efforts to deliver sustainable, high-performance buildings and structures.
In terms of energy efficiency, the standards for these buildings and structures usually focus on several key areas of newly constructed buildings and their subsequent additions. These energy-efficiency standards typically specify requirements for thermal resistance in the building’s shell. These standards also emphasize the presence of windows, ensuring minimum air leakage, and securing at least minimum efficiency for heating and cooling equipment. Some standards even require the installation of solar and thermal systems, set to go online during the critical energy peak periods.
Green real estate
The energy crisis coming next year will most certainly not be the last issue to push the real-estate industry to adapt and find solutions. On the contrary, it promises to be the first of many. As overpopulation, climate change, dwindling energy reserves and the aging infrastructure of our cities make headlines every day, it is about time we embrace green design and let it give birth to a green real-estate industry in the Philippines. Sustainability is the wave of the future, and we are all called to take part and do our share.