By Mark Ferrolino
Special Features Writer
THE RCBC PLAZA in Makati City has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, making it the first multi-tenanted building in the Philippines to achieve such kind of green building certification.
LEED is a certification program designed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and has become the most widely used green building rating system to assess environmental compliance in terms of sustainability, energy conservation, water reduction, air quality and materials, and resources.
The RCBC Plaza, owned by the RCBC Realty Corp., secured the LEED certification under the classification of Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EB:OM) last May 26.
It is the 5,406th building in the world to be LEED EB:OM certified and the 2,323rd building to earn LEED EB:OM Gold.
According to Evar Medina, RCBC Plaza’s property manager, changes were applied to the entire building to meet the green standards set by the USGBC.
“We changed all our lights to LED. We installed energy-saving mechanisms in the elevators so that when they were not in use, they did not use up electricity. Our central cooling system has been upgraded and most of our chillers that produce the cold air, that blow cold air all throughout the building are new. We installed water meters in all the toilets and even in the areas where the plants were,” Mr. Medina said.
Other changes included the use of plants that did not require a lot of watering, and a switch to non-toxic, chemical-free cleaning agents and pest-control substances.
RCBC Plaza also implemented hardscape management, pest control management, solid waste management, and green cleaning plans and programs.
To notify tenants of the changes and their environmental implications, the building administration conducted door-to-door campaigns and fora.
There are many benefits of going green that allow companies to maximize the return of investment on buildings and their spaces, Mr. Medina said.
“For instance, a green building secures major savings on occupancy costs because of its energy efficiency, reduced water usage and lower electricity consumption. The carbon footprint the building leaves is markedly smaller, and this is very important for the environment. As for the tenants and employees, they enjoy the daily privileges and health benefits of working in a building that maintains excellent environmental standards,” Mr. Medina said.
Since these changes were implemented, RCBC Plaza saw a 40% decrease in water use, a drop in electricity consumption, and cost savings. The plaza also secured proof of compliance with the ASHRAE Standard of Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.
Buildings are the biggest producer of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, Barone International President Dean Barone, the RCBC Plaza LEED consultant, said.
He said that by observing simple measures, such as turning off the lights and unplugging the computers, a building operator can save more than 10% in energy and lower energy costs.
Aside from cutting business expenses, he said that being LEED certified is good for business as it can attract tenants and potential investors.