Architects must lead in promoting sustainability

January 10, 2019 | By: ARCH. JOACHIM MICHAEL ESPINA (first published in The Manila Times last January 9, 2019)

The world is currently facing the diverse effects of climate change. These effects range from increased temperatures, flooding, melting of ice caps and permafrost and more. People around the world and our environment are affected.

It has now become important for every professional to focus their expertise toward the goal of sustainability. “Sustainability” is a word with a very broad meaning. It expands towards many professional fields — from environmental sustainability, social sustainability to the built environment.

As advocates for enhancing people’s quality of life and preservation of the environment, architects must lead in supporting the cause for sustainability for others to follow.

A recent talk focused on this important issue in relation to the architecture profession. Resource speaker architect Aracelli Barlam from the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) discussed the importance of being a Certified Berde Professional (CBP).

Berde stands for Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence. It is the Philippine green building rating system equivalent to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of the United States, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (Breeeam) of the United Kingdom and the Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (Casbee) of Japan. “Berde” is also the Filipino word for “green.”

Barlam explained the importance of being a CBP as it helps architects in designing buildings. At present, there are only 35 registered CBPs out of the more than 40,000 architects in the Philippines.

For those interested in becoming a CBP, they must pay a fee and participate in a four-day workshop. At the end of the workshop, they have to pass a certification test.

Being a CBP not only gives an architect the advantage of being one of the few green building consultants in the Philippines, it also changes his mindset on design buildings for the environment.

Being a professional with a specialization such as this can also inspire others to follow and become better architects in the future.

Further, the use of Berde as a reference helps architect to plan and design green buildings not only to help mitigate environmental problems, but also to make them more responsible professionals.

It helps in designing architecture suitable for the Philippine context and climate which is Filipino architecture.

The search for Philippine architecture has been a topic for quite some time, and the presence of a green building system in the country can help define what is required for Filipino architecture.

Barlam also presented an outline of the International River Summit which was recently held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mandaue City. It has been a while since Mandaue City hosted such a prestigious international conference.

At any rate, the main focus of the Mandaue City government is the rehabilitation of the Butuanon River, a very admirable cause worthy to be followed.

The river summit focused on the preservation and improvement of rivers. It featured presentations by many esteemed international resource speakers invited by the city.

The conference provided knowledge from experts and their experiences. It also raised awareness of the current situation of rivers in Cebu.

Overall, the topics promoted better stewarship of the architect profession and environment. They also encouraged architects to become educators of society.

(Architect Joachim Michael Espina, UAP, M.Eng.–Architecture and City Space Design, is a member of a third generation of architects currently working in their family firm Espina, Perez-Espina & Associates based in Cebu. He has also recently earned his Master’s Degree in Engineering, Major in Architecture and City Space Design from Hokkaido University in Japan under a full-scholarship from the Japanese government.)



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