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POSITION PAPER ON THE DRAFT HOUSE RESOLUTION 704

A RESOLUTION URGING THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO BECOME THE FIRST GREEN GOVERNMENT

BUILDING IN THE PHILIPPINES

Christopher Cruz de la Cruz

Chairman, Philippine Green Building Council


http://philgbc.org | ccdelacruz@philgbc.org

1. INTRODUCTION

The Philippines is one with the international community in addressing the need to reduce the amount of

green house gas (GHG) emissions to ensure the preservation of the environment. In 2003, the

Philippine government ratified the Kyoto Protocol1 to manifest our commitment to the global

community to achieve sustainable development. To further illustrate this commitment, the Philippines

have passed the Clean Air Act in 1999, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Clean Water

Act of 2004 and other various laws that help protect the environment.

The House of Representatives Building, built more than 30 years ago2, is the seat of power of the

legislative branch of the government. It is where all laws that help protect the environment emanate.

The decision to make the House of Representatives the first green government building illustrates that

the government would like to take the lead role in adopting measures that will help mitigate climate

change. Further, it establishes the House of Representatives as the champion in government in

promoting buildings that are designed, constructed, operated in an ecological and resource efficient

manner.

1
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

2
The House of Representatives formerly known as the Batasan Complex was not completed until the 1970s under the Marcos Administration to
house the then unicameral parliament.
2. COMMENTS ON HR 704

2.1. Method of Assessment and Guidelines are Needed

HR 704, as drafted, is silent in the assessment and benchmarking method that shall be utilized in the

design and construction of the House of Representatives. To ensure that the House of

Representatives achieves sustainability in a holistic manner, a set of protocols is needed to be

utilized to guide the architects, engineers, and contractors involved in the project. Presently, the

Philippines do not have any standards that may be utilized for this project. Foreign green building

rating schemes is not an option for use in the House of Representatives. We need to use a rating

scheme that meets our local needs, a system that reflects the environmental priorities that is

geography specific, climate responsive, and culturally relevant to the Philippines3. The use of a

locally accepted and relevant green building tool is strongly advisable, as it is also a matter of

national pride and patriotism that the government exhibit to the global community that we as a

nation is responsible in developing tools that help address climate change.

2.2. Ensuring Integrated Project Delivery

Most green building rating systems and guidelines requires that project proponents utilize the

integrated project delivery4 approach. It is the common practice for government projects to bid out

components of the construction projects and to deliver these components on a piece meal basis.

This method does not ensure that all the required building professionals are present throughout the

different phases of the project. Green building projects are more successful when all professionals

3
The World Green Building Council supports the adoption and ongoing development of green building rating schemes that are responsive to
the country’s climatic and commercial context.

4
Integrated project delivery approach streamlines the design process and improves the efficiency of construction of green building projects by
ensuring that all required building professionals are working together from the conceptual phase, design documentation, construction to
commissioning.
are present throughout the project to ensure that they will be able to collaborate on ways on how

to reduce cost and how to make the building more efficient.

2.3. Consistency in the Use of the Term “GREEN BUILDING”

Green Building is the practice of designing, constructing, operating, or reusing buildings in an

ecological and resource efficient manner. It focuses on the promotion and practice of sustainable

site development, improvement of indoor air quality, use of efficient energy, and improvement of

water management, utilization of green materials and the preservation of cultural heritage5. As the

definition implies, green building encompasses green architecture, engineering, construction, and

operations and management. It is also the term consistently used in the sustainability campaign of

the different professional, academic, and business organizations who are the major stakeholders in

the building industry6.

3. OUR RECOMMENDATION

3.1. The House of Representatives to Serve as the “Pilot Project” for BERDE

The Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) is the Philippines’ green building

rating system being developed by the Philippine Green Building Council, Inc (PHILGBC). BERDE is

being developed as a stakeholder-driven, consensus-based and industry-supported green building

rating system that shall address the environmental priorities of the Philippines. The system requires

that roundtable discussions are conducted prior to drafting of the system to get the inputs of

5
Green building, as defined by the Philippine Green Building Council in the paper “Developing a Green Building Rating System in the Philippines
(2009)”.

6
The major stakeholders of the building industry who are part of the green building movement are listed in the PHILGBC President’s Report
March 2007 – March 2009.
stakeholders7 in the building industry. Usability tests are to be conducted with the help of

architecture and engineering firms, contractors, developers, regulatory agencies, material suppliers,

utility companies and property management firms.

The renovation of the House of Representatives may serve as a “Pilot Project” for BERDE, to show

the public that the government is taking the lead role in promoting sustainability via a strong

partnership with the PHILGBC.

The BERDE green building rating system will ensure that the “green” credentials of the newly

renovated House of Representatives are properly measured via a tool that was strengthened with

the support of a wide multi-stakeholder group. With the government allowing its building be

measured by a third party tool, it increases its credibility in its sustainability campaign.

Using BERDE as the green building rating system for the House of Representatives is a strong

message to the public that Congress is supporting the BERDE Program of the PHILGBC by allowing

the rating system to be piloted and tested at the House of Representatives and by providing the

experience harnessed in using BERDE in a government building that other government institutions

can learn from and may emulate.

If the recommendation that BERDE be used as the rating system for the House of Representatives be

made part of HR 704, this will put in record, and further strengthen the partnership of the Congress

and the PHILGBC in promoting green building in the country.

The concept of utilizing a green building rating scheme prepared by the green building councils for

use in a government building is not new. In the United States, several bills have been passed at the

7
The organization of BERDE and roles of the members of the stakeholder group further discussed in the attached document “Developing a
Green Building Rating System in the Philippines (2009)”.
federal, state, and local level. Sample bills include S9418, HB1729, and SB 5110. Other countries that

utilize third party green building rating systems developed by green building councils include

Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, India, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa.

3.2. Establishment of a Green Building Team to Ensure Integrated Project Delivery

The success of green building programs lies heavily in the synergies created among the

Development Team. We suggest that HR 704 identify a Green Building Team (GBT) whose members

would support the delivery of the project. The GBT should be multi-disciplined, representing the

users of the building, the design team (architects, landscape architect, interior designer and

engineers), environmental consultants, project managers, general contractor, building manager and

the BERDE assessment team. A champion, who is part of the team, must be selected to represent

the interests of the users of the new House of Representatives building who will have responsibility

and authority in deciding on issues affecting the project.

8
Senate, No. 941 requires existing State buildings in the State of New Jersey to be evaluated under LEED rating system as adopted by the
USGBC.

9
House Bill 172 is an act requiring that the design, construction, operation, maintenance and deconstruction of certain new buildings conform
to a certain rating standard adopted by the Maryland Green Buildings Council.

10
Senate Bill 51, enacted in 2007, required any new or renovated building whose total project cost includes 25 percent or more in state funds
to be designed and built to a high performance green building standard. The law requires the State architect to select an independent third-
party certification program such as LEED.