Sustainability: All about the simple steps

THERE’S a “green” building coming up in Cebu and the man behind its greenness is engineer Edgar Sabidong. The building, Cebu Exchange, is the largest green building with dual certification for both Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Berde (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) in the country. Already, it has been awarded the best office development in the Philippines during the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards recently held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ed Sabidong, a civil engineer, is ArthaLand’s vice president for technical, and has been in the construction industry for more than three decades. During the interview, Sabidong shared that he is promoting sustainability for four reasons—all beginning with “A.”

Abuse is the first A.

“In the construction industry, I see the wanton waste of materials just to finish a building. This triggers me to carry out a mission to live a more sustainable life, cutting abuse of water, power and energy in the buildings I build. In Cebu Exchange, whatever wood we use comes from a source that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, which means that the company plants 20 trees for every tree it cuts. And though it costs more in the short term, it is more sustainable in the long term.”

ArthaLand is the second A. Arthaland is the company behind Cebu Exchange.

“In our first meeting, we were in alignment. Like me, ArthaLand sees an opportunity to build with sustainability in mind, to correct the abusive practices of the construction industry, where for example, a forest of 25-year-old trees is being sacrificed to build a single home.”

Awakening is the third A.

“After all of this (the abuse in the use of building materials), I realized that I should start a career that will be anchored on sustainability. I am focused on sustainability because climate change is real. The icecaps are melting, not just from the top but also from the bottom. Sea level will rise dramatically and coastal communities will be severely affected.”

Awareness is the fourth A.

“There is truly a need for awareness for people to be doing things in a sustainable way. Like for Cebu Exchange, I do talks in different schools around Manila and Cebu because we have to cascade awareness around sustainability. Composting and vertical gardening allow them to be more aware that by these simple acts, we create a multiplier effect for others to follow. In Cebu Exchange, it is my practice also to challenge the workers to make something of the building waste materials, like to come up with a garbage bin from them or decorative items.“

For sustainability at home, he advised:

- Unplug all unused appliances.

- Change all light bulbs to LED.

- Go for a higher EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) in air conditioners if you need to have one.

- When showering, put a pail under you to catch waste/unused water for reuse to flush the toilet or water plants. Don’t soak In bath tubs.

- Use a glass of water when brushing, instead of letting the tap flow uselessly.

- If you don’t have it and if you can afford the expense, choose low-flow, low-flush toilet fixtures.

- Catch rain water for use in watering plants.

- In watering plants, don’t use a sprinkler. A lot of water will go to waste.

- For food, buy vegetables for the day only; most vegetables have a brief shelf life in the fridge. Also, if possible, use a smaller refrigerator so you will not end up stocking items that end up spoiled.

- Reuse/recycle as much as you can, reuse whatever is at hand.

“You should also be able to give up what may be of sentimental value to you but which are really of no use any more. They just gather dust and occupy space. Have a garage sale or give your items to charitable agencies which need them. Or give them to someone you know who needs them.”

The newest advocacy of Sabidong is to teach children core values.

”Some millennials in our company are not rooted in who they are. Values have to be inculcated when children are young. In our project site office, no one could recite the Panatang Makabayan. What is the meaning of your life if you just live for yourself? What are you willing to share?”

Concurrent with his election as chairman of the Philippine Green Building Council, Arthaland also officially designated Sabidong as the company’s chief sustainability officer to inspire a deeper sense of commitment to develop and coordinate Arthaland’s sustainability strategies and initiatives and to oversee sustainability programs.

As chairman of the Philippine Green Building Council, he said Cebu will the venue of the Asia Pacific World Green Building Council meeting in October. Hopefully, through Cebu Exchange, the community will have a deeper appreciation of what a green building is, so that more will clamor for more green buildings in Cebu and in the country in the years ahead.


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