REAL estate developers in Cebu are encouraged to pursue green initiatives in their developments to propel their businesses forward.
Raymond Rufino, chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI)-Philippines National Council, said “going green” today is no longer just a PR stunt or a corporate social responsibility (CSR) idea but has become a global movement.
“Developers now build green buildings because they’re demanded by clients and also because it’s already part of the environment regulation (in some countries and cities),” said Rufino during the “Big, Beautiful, and Berde” forum hosted by Cebu Exchange by Arthaland and Arch Capital in partnership with ULI.
He noted that while clients are driving the demand to go green, developers who seriously adhere to this movement are the ones that attract the top-tier clients.
While many developments in the Philippines are being marketed as having adopted green building practices, not all are “green” certified, Rufino pointed out.
“Get your projects certified ‘green’ because that’s the only way people would know the necessary things you did to get the credential,” he said.
Compared to a handful of LEED-certified projects in the Philippines in 2010, the US Green Building Council database of green buildings shows there are currently 92 real estate projects that have been awarded LEED certifications in the Philippines, with more currently registered and undergoing the application process.
Around 25 percent of all LEED-certified properties and 38 percent of Berde-certified projects and operations are in Taguig.
Cebu, on the other hand, presents more room to grow and is emerging as an attractive place for real estate developers to pursue brand new green investments.
“Cebu is a leading green building location in the island. Mandaue City, in particular, is a progressive city in going green, making it part of the city’s policies,” said Rufino.
“Cebu is doing great and its commitment to go green is high,” he added.
Rufino, who is also the chairman of the Philippine Green Building Council which developed the Berde rating system, said the trend of sustainable spaces and green buildings is not only meant to attract investors but also targets the improvement to the quality of life of tenants and homeowners.
“Going green is more than just protecting the environment and achieving lower operating costs. It is also about creating a community of healthy, wealthy and happy people,” he said.
One of the latest green developments in Cebu is Arthaland’s Cebu Exchange. The P8-billion green building had its initial concrete pouring last May 29.
It is set to be one of the tallest developments in the Cebu IT Park with 39 floors of mixed-use commercial and office spaces.
Cebu Exchange will be the biggest green building in the country, with a projected-size of 109,000 square meters and is on track to meet the highest certifications in both LEED and Berde ratings once completed.
Leo Po, executive vice president and treasurer of Arthaland Corp., said the company remains bullish about exploring potential areas outside Metro Manila for their projects.
“We are looking for new properties to develop in Visayas and Mindanao,” said Po, adding that they are committed to deliver best-in-class and sustainable developments, not just to add to the company’s bottom line.
“You will not know the value of a sustainable development unless you experience it. And when your tenants feel the benefits, the value of the project will rise.
Eventually, people would want to know what it’s like and more will adopt it,” Po explained.
Cebu Exchange’s development is divided into two phases, of which the first phase will be completed by 2020 and the second phase by 2022.