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Is it a ‘Green’ for Green Architecture
by Lorenzo Tacadao

It’s the perfect time to have a green mind − no, not the noon time show host’s type of mind, but an environmental kind of thinking. A mind inclined to sustainable development, construction, and advancement.

Sustainability and development – may be two of the words in the dictionary which are the most unlikely to go together. Ever since the start of civilization, man loved to destroy things to create new ones, and the universal victim is the environment. No need to elaborate on that one, just visit the view deck of Mines View Park. Case closed.

In any society, not all men live the same, there will always be people who will strive to be different and to be better, and arguably, they are the ones who have advanced thinking – they have green minds. These people thought of innovations for development, creating yet not destroying, instead, sustaining. This is when “green” architecture was born.

So, what is this green architecture all about? In an email sent by Arch. Michael Guerrero of the United Architects of the Philippines’ Green Architecture Movement and Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines, he simply defined green architecture as “Designing with nature. Going green means looking at the sustainability of our planet, and the repercussions of our actions on sustainability.”

The Facebook page of Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines explained green architecture as “a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in human and environmental health. These involve sustainable site selection and development, energy efficiency, water conservation, clean air, use of low-impact materials, renewable resource, and preserving indoor air quality.”

Responsibility, that’s another way to look at it.

Man does his job to prosper without hurting Mother Nature, a win-win scenario: Man is happy, nature is safe.

Sadly, sustainable architecture is associated with rich people, whether they really care about the environment or they just want to feel good about themselves, green design is more popular with the upper class population.

“What most people see as green are the external technology driven parts like solar panels, wind turbines – and they are truly expensive as of now. What people fail to see are the “hidden” green strategies such as orientation,” Guerrero said.

In an interview with Arch. Elvis Palicdon, past president of UAP Summer Capital chapter and instructor at the University of Baguio’s School of Engineering and Architecture, he said that in terms of fixtures, green materials are more expensive than the conventional ones. Like in lights, CFC lights, which have lower operating cost than incandescent bulbs, are more pricey but in the long run, consumers will benefit from it because these use less amount of energy. They have better energy efficiency, meaning – lower electricity bill.

It doesn’t require you to turn your house into a paranoid madman’s energy conserving house and to switch to all those expensive alternative energy providers, instead, people can go green with just simply patronizing more energy efficient materials. It’s not that complicated to have an eco-friendly home at all. Now, is Baguio ready to adapt such concept?

Guerrero sees potentials in Baguio to promote green development. “Baguio has an interesting opportunity to be a model of

renewing itself from an unabated urban sprawl, that is taxing its utilities, to a sustainable city.This would involve putting back more green trees and plants, rainwater catchment, sewage treatment and recycle water, solar water heaters, pollution control for vehicles, and creating a walkable city.”

Zaldy Corpuz, a practicing architect and manager of his own architectural and CADD centre in Baguio, also sees the Summer Capital as a conceivable green agent.

“Baguio City is prominent in terms of tourism and education. It has the best potential to promote and practice green architecture considering its needs in the preservation of its rich culture for tourists to appreciate, a place to freshen up from stresses of a busy work, and the most conducive place for learning, creativity, and innovations,” he said.

Undeniably, Baguio is the comfort zone of people who want to escape the buzz and destructions of the metro, it’s a city but unlike others, it is closer to nature because of the cool climate, pine trees, and mountains. If taken seriously, Baguio can be the melting pot of green design in Northern Luzon, it is the perfect place to start sustainable architecture, engineering, and designing, but these are just potentials. Baguio cannot be a fat ass armchair philosopher forever, just sitting there, full of potentials but not doing anything. There are things to be done – an understatement actually, there are many things to be done.

Corpuz stressed the shortcomings of the city regarding sustainability. “Baguio is in tremendous stress of pollution, garbage, and the rapid growth of population which are going to reside up to the very outskirts of the city. There must be educational efforts to spread to the general public an awareness of what are the relevant long term goals of the city regarding sustainability and the currently falling-short mitigation of the said city stresses, and formulation of technical solutions that must be carried out, that don’t need political interest to implement best possible solutions.”

“It is a must to start this initiative to our city if we wish to share a healthy and conducive environment for living and learning for our children. In order to understand green architecture, we must first learn about the fundamentals of Ecological Sustainability and its concern to our physical creations that can either be working for against the environment. A value shift must occur in the minds of the people from consumerism to minimalism to minimize waste and pollution,” Corpuz added.

Palicdon recommended that the city government must do its duty for a greener and a healthier Baguio to be realized. He said that officials should help in disseminating information regarding sustainable development. He suggested that it will be better if the local government publishes guidelines concerning green designs, comes up with ordinances favoring eco-friendly strategies, and gives incentives to builders who are practicing green engineering.

“I think everyone, including Baguio, will see the need to go green. Rising cost of electricity, water, and medical expenses are enough to get people interested in going green,” Guerrero said.

The city has a lot of work to do if it is serious to have a healthier and more sustainable community. It’s not as easy as a walk in the park, but the fact that every person is affected by the problems in the environment makes it a workable plan. It’s a cliché to say, but cooperation in the community must be the first to have a more livable and lovable city. In the end, locals and tourists will take all the benefits of having a green environment. Everybody should realize that going environmental doesn’t only mean turning the lights off during Earth Hour, or running in a marathon for a cause, or wearing T-shirts with “I love Mother Nature” design on it being green minded means having an eco-friendly lifestyle, it means saving energy, and it means being part of the advanced civilization – creating new things without destroying other things.

“The government should formulate guidelines in encouraging and embedding green practices in all regulations, codes, and ordinances. They must change the minds of the people in what is practical and would serve the population in the long run,” Corpuz said.

Guerrero has a simple advice to practice going green: “Learn the truth about the real green architecture, which is oriented ultimately to the sustainability of our world.”

It is not called advancement if people destroy things; it is more of a ‘back to stone age’ kind of scenario. At a first look, green architecture is an intimidating concept. But no matter how complicated it sounds it is easy in reality. It is the complete opposite of Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened, instead of bringing bad luck it can bring all the good things for the environment.

Planning to build a house or building? It’s the perfect time to be green minded.
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