Architectural design can help reduce global warming

Phoenix has a daily temperature of extremely cold mornings and evenings and extremely warm daytime at 40 to 80 deg F. This is common in this latitude (32 +- degrees North Latitude). But last month, we had a thin layer of snow! Imagine that. It’s not supposed to snow in Phoenix, only in the northern elevations of Arizona. But it snowed – for some reason. Phoenix and Scottsdale are marked by knobby terrain and localized series of elevated hills.

So I support your (ref. Inquirer article by Sylvia Mayuga) advocacy for a livable, more sustainable environment.

People now spend an average of about 90% of their time indoors. Look at a recent survey of buildings of commercial, institutional, and residential buildings that account for, approximately:
 40% of global consumption of raw materials

 30% of primary energy consumption
 60% of electricity consumption
 12% of potable water consumption including 5 billion gallons a day for flushing toilets
 35% of carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas
The source of these stats is the Whole Systems Design of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Think about Makati

When you ride the MRT on EDSA from Quezon City, you literally have no need to go to outside to an even more polluted outdoors when you reach Makati. Just get off in one of the air-conditioned drop-off points (refrigerated with substances containing CFC a.k.a. "Chlorofluorocarbon" causing ozone depletion) and walk your way through the shopping mall to the center of the city hub.

This clearly delineates the potential for buildings to either adversely affect or positively support human health and productivity in a significant way. We architects, who are the definers of the built and natural environment, need to clean up our act. Those stats and an alarming analysis of global warming indicate that architects create one of the biggest problems but possibly also the best solutions to greenhouse gas emission, global warming and climate change.

From what I observed when I visited Makati last year, it’s flanked by cookie-cutter buildings designed by foreigners who have displayed a total lack of understanding of a tropical country in a lower latitude close to the equator. Why did we allow this to happen? Part of it - again - is that Filipino mindset of colonialism and branding. Anything imported, in this case designed by a foreigner, must be good. Pardon my language, but we have become suckers for this.

This is contrary to the Organic Architecture I’ve learned.

A building needs to be site-specific. One can’t just pluck the floor plan of a building from out of an industrialized nation like America then build it in a country in different latitude. It’s like buying a fur coat in New York because it’s hip and trendy then wearing it in Manila where it’s 30 ++ degrees C outside. Trendy and hip? I hardly think so.

What I think President GMA needs to aggressively support are initiatives that create an awareness of environmental responsibility in Filipino communities. The government needs to actively engage Filipino architects in order to establish a national benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance buildings.

Architects need to help solve the environmental problem through design. I’m currently pursuing accreditation from LEED to become a professional Sustainable Design Expert. Government projects/ buildings are now required to be LEED-certified in the U.S. There are also efforts in this direction for commercial, institutional, and residential buildings which have been implemented.


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