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The greening of PH buildings

On June 25, 2015, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine Green Building Initiative, the World Bank and the bank’s affiliate, International Finance Corp., launched the GB Code, the referral code of the National Building Code (Presidential Decree No. 1096). PDBI is composed of accredited organizations associated with the construction industry.

The GB Code is primarily intended to improve the structural and operational efficiency of buildings for the protection of people from the effects of climate change.

The Code embodies standards for the enhancement of environmental and resource management. The standards cover the effective countering of harmful gases, efficient use of materials, first-class site selection, planning, design and construction and high-level operation, occupancy and maintenance of buildings.

Those who are covered by the GB Code will be helping the government counter the costly effects of climate change. The professionals involved—architects, designers, contractors, building owners and property managers—will do so by efficiently planning, designing, constructing and managing buildings.

Covered by the GB Code are residential condominiums with a minimum TGFA (total gross floor area) of 20,000 square meters, mercantile malls with a minimum 15,000 sq. m. of TGFA, office buildings with a minimum 10,000 sq. m. of TGFA, school buildings with a minimum TGFA of 10,000 sq. m., mixed-occupancy buildings with a minimum 10,000 sq. m. of TGFA and hotels and resorts with a minimum 10,000 sq. m. of TGFA.

The GB Code sets standards and construction-industry best practices for air-conditioning and energy use, solar heat and glazing, day time lighting, WWR (wall-to-window ratio), natural ventilation, roof insulation, cooling systems, water fixtures, non-toxic building materials, materials recovery and indoor-environment quality. The Code’s approach to “green building” in this country is incremental in character.

Implementation of the GB Code is reviewed periodically by the National Building Code Development Office, which reports to the Secretary of Public Works and Highways.

If implemented faithfully, the GB Code will benefit the construction industry (through being required to construct sturdy, safe and efficient edifices), building owners (through the construction of high-quality buildings), building occupants (through enhanced safety and comfort), the power industry (through reduced load demand) and, last but not least, the government (through greater public safety and more efficient use of scarce resources).

Is observance of the GB Code mandatory, and if so, are there penalties for non-observance? In the literature I have read about the Code, I have seen no mention of penalties.

Neither have I seen any mention of the local government units. The LGUs should be closely involved in the implementation of the Code. Most local governments are lax in the monitoring and supervision of the construction industry within their jurisdictions.

And how about the Department of Environment and Natural Resources? Since the Code speaks of such things as energy use and materials recovery, shouldn’t the DENR be closely involved as well?

The launching of the GB Code is undoubtedly a big step forward in the effort to rationalize the construction, use and maintenance of buildings in this country. The next step forward is faithful implementation of the Code. That looks like an even bigger step.

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