BIR sets first in ‘green building’ initiatives

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Bureau of Internal Revenue Region 4 (BIR RR4) has managed to register a couple of firsts this year--not on revenue collection in which it is a top performer among revenue regions outside Metro Manila--but in the area of climate change initiatives.

Just this March, the BIR here inaugurated its P647-million building complex. But the three buildings inside the complex are more than just ordinary government structures. The BIR boasts that they are the first government green buildings in Pampanga and the first BIR green buildings in the country.

The Provincial Government of Pampanga earlier donated a P200-million one-hectare property to the BIR RR4 for the construction of its building.

During the initial planning stage, BIR officials had weighed the economic and long term financial cost of maintaining three such buildings for the BIR. Their years in revenue collection and financial literacy had unanimously pushed them to look into eco-friendly building initiatives that will save money in terms of building cost and long term maintenance.

Revenue Region 4 Director Jethro Sabariaga said that they envisioned making the new buildings as pioneer government examples in green architecture initiatives in the region. The buildings are also expected to set a new trend in the construction of government buildings in Pampanga.

Sabariaga said that the BIR officials were impressed by the idea of building the first BIR green buildings. Green buildings are known for their energy efficiency, water and wastewater management, materials sustainability, solid waste management, site sustainability, and indoor environmental quality.

Why green buildings?

Sabariaga said that Philippine Government, in 2015, submitted to the United Nations the country’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by the year 2030.

The International Finance Corporation, a sister institution of the World Bank estimates that 36 percent of the Philippine’s electricity consumption is mainly from building use. Electric consumptions in buildings are responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Sabariaga said that the new buildings are partially powered by 400 kilowatts of solar panels. These were expected to reduce the energy consumption and reliance of the said buildings on conventional power sources.

With the BIR’s mix power use, it is projected to save P6 million in cost of electricity every year and lessen its environmental impact in the next 25 years. The building complex’s perimeter lights and air-conditioning units are also solar-powered.

Ergonomically designed, the new buildings were constructed to maximize the capture of natural light into the interior of the structures.

Sections of the BIR buildings were fitted with glass roofing to let natural light to flow into the buildings. Sections of the offices and stairwells were walled with glass to provide for natural lighting during the day.

The buildings’ halls and offices were made wider and operable window openings made bigger to let the natural flow of air into the facilities.

The complex also harvests greywater. Waste water from sinks, bathrooms and kitchens inside the complex, with the exception of toilet flushing, is diverted into a storage tanks and redirected to non-potable and outdoor purposes.

Sabariaga added that to enhance the aesthetic and ergonomical values of the complex, koi ponds have been built around the area to help in the heat absorption during summer.

Green walls of potted plants also surround the perimeter fences and first floor walls of the buildings facing the sun for insulation to keep the buildings’ indoor temperature consistent.

These features were intended to contribute to efforts against climate change and as well as maximize employee productivity by reducing stress and fatigue.

More green building initiatives

Climate change is the main reason why the Philippines is now pushing for future building projects to go “green.”

According to Chief Legal Counsel of the Climate Change Commission Efren Basco, the Philippines is among five countries in the world that are most at risk from climate change. The country, he said, has been battered by storms and super typhoons like Yolanda.

He stressed that green buildings contribute a great deal in reducing harmful greenhouse impacts. The National Government had been at work with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to institute environmental-friendly structures.

There is still not enough awareness on the importance of implementing green engineering construction and features among private sector and industry buildings. The general impression too is that green buildings are expensive to build which is actually the contrary, according IFC.

Green governance

Local government units and entities have also shown great interest in green building measures and have begun efforts to widen compliance or at least encourage buildings and infrastructure owners to implement green engineering features.

In Davao City, the 18th Davao City Council approved, on second reading last February, the proposed resolution for a green building ordinance for Davao City. The ordinance seeks to ensure environmental sustainability of buildings and reduce their negative impact to health and environment.

In Pampanga, the state-owned Clark Development Corporation (CDC) has announced the completion of the installation of 816 units solar panels in three corporate buildings of the state-owned firm amounting to about P13 million.

“With the installation of solar panels, the state-owned firm is expected to save P2.1-million a year from the P5.2-million average power consumption of the three buildings annually,” the CDC said in a statement.

Green building initiatives will also gain full traction with Clark Green City, one of the big-ticket projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build Build Build Infrastructure Program inside Clark Freeport.

The project, which is underway, is designed to be the country’s first smart, green, and disaster-resilient city and, in terms of green and sustainable development, the project is expected to adhere to the principles of sustainable development to create the most livable environment possible while preserving the environment and natural resources.
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