Well & Green: How JEG Tower @ One Acacia delivers the best workplace in Cebu

The inevitable anxiety of returning to the workplace amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic becomes more pressing recently. More companies are looking to locate in premium offices that are safe and conducive for working without losing sight of occupants’ health and wellness.  

A more sustainable approach to building construction has paved the way for making this possible. Going green is typically tied to being environmentally friendly. According to the World Green Building, real estate and construction are the top industries responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. 

With the Net Zero initiative aiming for decarbonization by 2025, JEG Tower @ One Acacia goes beyond sustainable as it seeks to pandemic-proof its spaces with building-based prevention and control measures that benefit both the environment and the workforce. As one of the LEED buildings in Cebu, the tower is built from recyclable construction materials from steel to cement made from coal-fire powerplant waste.  

Beyond the green aspect, it takes on the responsibility of ensuring that its immediate community is safe by adhering to minimum public health standards, physical distancing, disinfection, and biophilic design. 

RELATED: Pushing Sustainable Offices: Leveraging smart technology for safety, productivity 

JEG Tower has focused on pivoting the evolving needs of the workplace in the post-lockdown business landscape. Through the intelligent utilization of technology, automatic sliding doors have been installed in the main entrance for touchless access to the building. 

Thermal scanners in the tower are wired and can automatically take your temperature through a sensor without assistance. In place of contact tracing efforts, employees will use the free-standing scanners by the main entry point while guests must get their temperature through a tabletop scanner available in the reception area where they will also be asked to register. 

Understanding the risk of infection in common areas where most people often congregate, JEG Tower @ One Acacia has added anti-bacterial fixtures and above standards filtration to minimize risks. MERV-13 filtration has been installed to complement its energy-efficient Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to improve indoor air quality and sanitation.  

Frequent handwashing is also encouraged as the building’s bathrooms are equipped with the best and fastest hand dryers to date. Accredited by the NSF and HACCP International, the Dyson Airblade is recognized as the fastest and most hygienic due to its built-in HEPA filters, anti-bacterial additive, and touch-free operation. 

RELATED: The Future of Workplace: Contactless features and smart technology 

Employing Airblade technology is also low on energy consumption and is environmentally friendly as it records up to 79% less CO2 and up to 76% less in paper towel use. True to its commitment to being an iconic green estate, it also allocated ample space to its Material Recycling Facility and has amply situated 5 recycling bins for paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass. 

Moreover, according to the Singapore Green Building Council’s in-depth research, biophilia and views are one of the top seven facets often associated to a green and healthy office. JEG Tower @ One Acacia uses this concept to upgrade the working environment by designing spaces that allow for maximum views and natural light. It also features a green roof that can help reduce stress and encourage sociability and movement.  

Explore your premium office options in Cebu. Contact Michael Glindro at (+63) 917-584-0443 or send an email to mike.g@kmcmaggroup.com

Championing Sustainability: How JEG Tower gives back to Cebu workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a shift in priorities around the world. Its impacts have been far-reaching and have affected multiple sectors and industries. In Philippine real estate, current developments or estates have been quick to rethink the commercial and office spaces that they are offering.  

Traditionally, the office is seen as a place of work where the employees are usually measured by the output produced. As the pandemic persists, the clear line that divides work and life blurs and so a more efficient integration is required.  

According to experts, integration is all about synergy, not trade-offs. The same mindset can then be applied to the building of sustainable yet premium spaces that fosters a productive environment without sacrificing public safety and wellness.  

JEG Tower @ One Acacia envisions a workplace in Cebu that puts its occupants’ health as its top priority. JDC has taken a holistic approach in ensuring that employees feel taken care of by providing them a space that is designed to respond to their need for protection not only physically but mentally.  

RELATEDSustainable Design: Impacts to New Normal and Climate Change   

As one of the main proponents of sustainability in the metro, JEG Tower @ One Acacia prides itself as one of the leading LEED buildings that used environmentally friendly materials with recyclable content in its steel bars, glass, and solar reflective paint. It is also equipped with efficient and cost-saving energy, water, and waste systems that significantly lowers its carbon footprint and avoids other hazards posed to its immediate community.   

Keeping people in mind, JEG Tower has since upgraded its facilities to successfully navigate and secure the post-lockdown business landscape. Indoor air quality is improved through the installation of a state-of-the-art MERV-13 filtration system that effectively prevents viral transmission.  

RELATEDGetting ahead of the curve: ‘Disease proofing’ the new normal workplace  

Safer re-entry to the office is also guaranteed through the placement of thermal scanners and minimizing touchpoints through automatic doors and sensor-enabled fixtures in common areas such as elevators and restrooms. In compliance with strict social distancing protocols, JEG Tower also utilizes Destination Oriented Allocation System (DOAS) technology in their elevators to prevent the usual congestion by efficiently managing car allocation reduce wait and travel time.   

The rise of the outdoor office  

Workplace designers are also recommending the introduction of biophilic elements in these evolving spaces. Experts say that nature is truly beneficial to both productivity and wellness. Gensler Chicago’s Managing Director Todd Heiser added that spaces with high levels of choice, variety, and balance deliver an excellent experience at work.   

Beyond stress reduction, biophilic spaces outdoors are generally known to be inspiring. Steelcase Vice President Allan Smith said that it is also proven to enhance well-being. support hospitality and expand the workplace ecosystem to inspire creative collaboration further.   

RELATED: The Importance of Biophilic Design in a Post-Lockdown Office  

According to TIME, accessibility and quality of green spaces also matter in ensuring satisfaction and improving the human experience. In the Netherlands, residents reportedly better mental health and more emotional attachment when exposed to quality greenery.  

JEG Tower @ One Acacia has also integrated biophilic elements into their spaces. It dedicated 20% of the estate to greenspaces and features a unique green roof for recreational activities that encourage employee movement and sociability.  

Looking for a safe workplace post-lockdown? Reach out to Lorenzo Rodriguez at (+63) 917-825-6884 or email your inquiry to lorenzo.rodriguez@kmcmaggroup.com.   

Pushing Sustainable Offices: Leveraging smart technology for safety, productivity

Returning to a safer and smarter workplace has been a consideration for most businesses and locators in the Philippines. As the global struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the post-lockdown landscape is focusing on adopting technology and stringent measures to make sure that people and communities are not at risk in environments they frequent such as the office. 

A shift to a more sustainable and smart office is slowly becoming a main point of distinction. In the Philippines, experts say that majority are still likely to return to physical office spaces for certain operational needs such as spontaneous cross-collaboration, mentorship, and even socialization. 

Fostering a collaborative work environment is as important as keeping it safe. Investing in smart technology can ensure that businesses can still grow productivity and cultivate innovation amid the challenges posed by the public health crisis.  

The rise of automation 

Going contactless or touchless is one of the main features to consider for the smart office. Sensors, access cards, or recognition software can be utilized in the entry to and exit from the premises and its amenities. This will help reduce the risks of contamination and transmission in these spaces. 

In some buildings such as JEG Tower @ One Acacia, you can enter through automatic sliding doors, and scanning of QR codes will be implemented so employees and visitors can input their information in a hassle-free manner. In common area bathrooms, automatic faucets and flushing will be installed to make it hands-free or remove unnecessary surface contact. 

RELATED: JEG Tower Focus – Additional Safety Features for Disease Prevention 

More technology efficiency 

Beyond disease prevention, sustainability is supported by smart technology via more efficient use of energy. Elevators using Destination Oriented Allocation System is recommended as it helps reduce congestion at the halls via efficient authorization at security gates and optimum car allocation.  

As one of the premium LEED buildings in Cebu, JEG Tower is one of the spaces that focus on energy efficiency or the proper use of resources for the sake of the environment. This is not only impactful to the occupants of the building but also the Cebuano community as a whole.  

Improved Connection 

The gradual return of the workforce will demand better communication channels and connectivity. Beyond strong ICT infrastructure, smart offices should enable stable and streamlined communication within and outside the organization by availing hi-tech equipment, telco provisions, internet options, and use of software or apps that can support frequent digital communication and collaboration.    

RELATED5 Apps to Help You Get Through Working From Home 

Safer Conduct of Business  

With the ongoing pandemic, minimum public health standards and protocols are in place and should be followed. Prioritizing client and workforce wellbeing by digitizing key aspects of transactions and operations through the smarter use of technology will help guarantee customer satisfaction and employee retention.  

Utilizing digital tools or online-based platforms for virtual tours or contactless payment options will assure convenience and more security. In line with this, one can schedule site viewings to JEG Tower @ One Acacia and answer the mandated health declaration form online ahead of the visit. A 360 virtual showroom will also soon be available for easier viewing of their premium spaces. 

The pivot towards sustainability and pandemic-proofing the workplace goes beyond aesthetics. The value of spaces can be reliant on its ability to invest in the correct technology that will seek to protect the wellness of occupants without sacrificing business continuity or opportunities for expansion.

Sustainable Design: Impacts to New Normal and Climate Change

As the country eases to a more relaxed quarantine status, many begin to look forward to the ‘new normal’. However, health experts remind that this transition is a gradual shift, given the transition would not occur at the flip of the switch

Different industries and business sectors have started employing various strategies to adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic. The real estate sector has undoubtedly been affected by COVID-19 in unprecedented ways, reshaping how developers and investors think about the design and purpose of buildings and establishments. 

Many developments are taking the opportunity to transform the design towards sustainability, prioritizing the health and wellness of their building occupiers and contributing less to environmental degradation. Transitioning to the ‘new normal’ opens a chance for developers and property owners to create spaces that are sanitary and sustainable in the long term, collectively making cities more efficient, safer, cleaner, and smarter. 

Post-Pandemic Office Makeovers 

Redesigning offices to prioritize sanitation and sustainability can result in healthier workspaces. Companies are investing in smart technology to ensure the safety and protection of its employees against various health hazards.  

To ensure minimized contact among occupants, a contactless or a low-touch office experience becomes the new standard. This includes limiting contact in operating certain equipment such as printer screens, elevator buttons, or door handles by replacing them with technology-enabled by sensors. Workplace strategists expect more automatic doors and screens to be more common to significantly remove the need for touching handles or pressing buttons.   

RELATED: The Future of Workplace: Contactless Features and Smart Technology 

New Normal Workplace Design  

Many argue that open office layouts will no longer be the trend in workplace design especially in the new normal. Some suggest that many businesses will resort back to the boxed and cubicle style office to ensure physical distancing among employees.   

However, since these changes will not be abrupt, companies are implementing a staggered seating plan which eradicates ‘elbow-to-elbow’ seating, and the use of shared desks and workstations. This would also result in newfound “openness” as companies reduce tables, chairs, and other office equipment that take up space.  

Some are utilizing a shifting workforce scheme that effectively reduces the number of employees inside the office during specific work hours, capping the in-office staff at 30 to 50 percent to maintain social distancing. 

Workplace strategists also suggest visual cues on floors and walls to ensure a safe six-feet buffer for every employee, regardless of whether they’re sitting at their desk or walking to the restroom.  

Sustainability in Construction for Disease Prevention 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also opened the discussion on the implications of building and construction to climate change and health. More than redesigning workplaces and implementing strategies, the real estate sector can contribute to disease prevention on a larger scale by building with the environment in mind.  

According to some studies, constructing buildings account for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 40% of the world’s energy. It is also one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions which evidently cause a rampant rise in temperature that worsen climate condition. Research has linked this to the increased risk of pathogens being transmitted between animals and humans.  

Through sustainability and green real estate, buildings aim to use better materials and comply with construction methods that reduce the harmful effects on the environment. Alternative construction materials such as recycled steel, low e-glass, sheep’s wool, bamboo, and cork are beginning to be widely used. Copper is also becoming an alternative to iron construction materials since it is less hospitable to germs and disease-carrying viruses. 

Aside from construction materials, the design of a building also changes to prioritize health and sustainability. Ventilation systems are being reconfigured to flow air down from the ceiling rather than from the floor up. Larger windows are also becoming the standard to allow maximum daylight and reduce energy usage inside buildings. All these modifications are geared towards achieving long-term resiliency and mitigating any future physical or market shocks, together with the reduction of a building’s carbon footprint. 

These changes do not only prioritize the health and safety of employees inside buildings. These are also stringent measures that improve their happiness, motivation, and productivity inside the workspace. 

READ MORE: Employees working in LEED-certified buildings are Happier, Healthier, and More Productive 

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a timely reminder of the role of real estate in shaping the health of communities and impacting the environment. Given the opportunity to adapt and shift towards sustainability, buildings and developments should keep in mind that more people are in need and will demand a safer, healthier, and more sustainable environment. 

Learn more about sustainability in design and real estate. Contact Lorenzo Martin Rodriguez at (+63) 917-825-6884. You can also call us at (+63) 2-8403-5519 or send an email to jegtower@kmcmaggroup.com. 

Employees working in LEED-certified buildings are Happier, Healthier, and More Productive

More than being safe and protected, employees who are working inside a LEED-certified office building are found to be happier, healthier, and more productive, a study by the US Green Building Council found. Following the main principles that are People, Planet, and Profit, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings are designed and built to promote the overall health and well-being of its occupants while leaving the least negative impacts to the environment. 

Workplaces located inside a LEED-certified building are linked to improved productivity, increased output, and better work performance. The same study also found that the indoor air quality of their work environment contributes to its employees’ fulfillment at work and overall mood during office hours. 

READ MORE: How Green Buildings Improve Indoor Air Quality and Provide A Healthier Working Environment 

More than 80 percent of survey respondents said that having access to clean, high-quality indoor air contributes to their overall workplace happiness. Another 80 percent said that the enhanced air quality improves their physical health and comfort. Numerous studies have linked high-quality air in indoor spaces to the improved cognitive function and focus of its occupiers. According to data, higher indoor air quality significantly enhanced nine specific areas of functional domains namely basic, applied and focused activity levels, task orientation, crisis response, information seeking, information usage, breadth of approach, and strategy. Improved air quality also resulted to better sleep and fewer health symptoms at work. 

Employees also noted that a view of the outdoors and ample natural lighting can also boost their happiness at the office. A recent study has confirmed that natural light in workplaces improve productivity and the overall health of employees. 

LEED-certified buildings such as JEG Tower @ One Acacia have observed the highest set of standards to ensure the overall comfort and safety of its occupants. They are also designed to promote their physical and mental health. 

The 22-storey tower located along Archbishop Reyes Avenue has achieved LEED® BD+C: Core and Shell pre-certification at the Silver Level. Once operational, it will use 12% less energy and water through its efficient and state-of-the-art technology. JEG Development Corporation’s first high-rise development will also give a generous view of the city and provide natural lighting in all office floors. The tower is also made of 20% green space which can also be beneficial to the relaxation and destressing of its occupants. 

RELATED: What is a Healthy Workplace? 

LEED-certified buildings provide a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of its occupants. By covering physical and psychosocial aspects of wellness, employees located in such buildings are found to be happier, healthier, and perform better at work. 

Looking for an office space located in a LEED-certified building? Discuss your options with Lorenzo Rodriguez through (+63) 917-825-6884. For more information, send us an email at info@kmcmaggroup.com or reach out to us through (+632) 8403-5519. 

Is the Philippines Ready for More Sustainable Development?

Investing in technology that is geared towards sustainability and resilience will be the standard for commercial and residential properties, moving forward. In fact, the United Nations has prepared a roadmap to towards sustainability until the year 2030. This report covers multiple areas of the society — from governance, the economy, and urban planning and design. Recent global events have also raised the discussion of pushing for green real estate and technology to promote the health and general wellbeing of communities around the world. 

Sustainability in real estate has long been a standing movement in the industry. More awareness and campaigns have been made to encourage the shift towards sustainability as the United Nations Environment Programme reported that the building sector has the potential to make energy savings of 50% or more in 2050. The US Energy Information Administration also supported this claim as the organization reported that this increased demand for energy was driven by residential and commercial establishments

According to a 2018 report, real estate can be a powerful driver for corporate sustainability and for making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. 

The discourse on the importance of uplifting the health and wellness of building occupants was also raised as the world combats the COVID-19 pandemic. Various workplace protocols and guidelines were modified and implemented to protect the safety of public and common spaces, including the workplace. Buildings are also optimizing their technology and design to prevent another health crisis in the future. 

RELATED: Optimizing Buildings for Disease Prevention 

In the Philippines, green real estate is starting to become the new standard in the residential and commercial sector. According to the Urban Land Institute (ULI),  green markets tend to thrive in developing economies, and the Philippines is now transitioning into a culture that advocates sustainable design and technologies. 

The Building Owners and Managers Association of the Philippines noted that the government are also starting to create policies that will benefit the green movement in real estate. Eduardo Manahan, the organization’s chairman said that the country is on the road to building greener and smarter communities

“We have a law pending in Congress about green building, and we are also in the process of approving the revision of the National Building Code,” Manahan said in a 2018 interview. “Once approved, everybody should follow, and the buildings should be compliant with these things,” he added. 

The shift towards more sustainable and greener developments will also make the country a more globally attractive investment destination for commerce and real estate. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has also released policy-making guidelines for countries to support green growth and development in different sectors. 

RELATED: Shift to Sustainability: Highlighting Green Real Estate in the Philippines 

JEG Development Corporation is one of the frontrunners of sustainable real estate in Cebu and in the Philippines. It’s first high-rise commercial development, JEG Tower @ One Acacia is set to be one of the first premium green buildings within the Cebu Busines District.  

“JEG Tower is one of a new crop of office developments in Cebu that are raising the standards of buildings in our city,” JDC Estate and Business Development Manager Stefan Garcia explains. “Our company has placed a lot of resources to build the best workspace in the city.” 

From the building’s design to the construction processes, and operations, JEG Tower is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. It is also one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified structures. It is currently pre-certified at the Silver level for building design and construction (LEED BD+C). The Tower will also operationalize using less water and electrical power than many of the structures currently in the city’s central business district. It is expected to emit less in terms of dangerous greenhouse gases. 

Want to learn more about Philippine Real Estate’s shift towards sustainability?

Reach out to Michael Glindro at mike.g@kmcmaggroup.com or (+63) 917-584-0443. Send an email to info@kmcmaggroup.com or call us at (+632) 8403-5519

Building A ‘Biophilic’ Office: What Is Biophilia And How Can It Benefit Your Business

As more companies and businesses recognize the importance of providing a workspace that would improve the health and wellness of their employees, ‘Biophilia’, or the term describing a love of life and living things, has been one of the emerging trends in interior design for offices in the world. The Biophilic office design includes features that aim to bring the outdoors in, especially in the workplace. 

In the previous year, the shift towards promoting a greener space in the office has been encouraged as studies find that incorporating biophilic design has a positive effect on the employees’ productivity, mood, and health. In fact, Human Space has reported that workplaces who have introduced elements of nature have witnessed a decrease in the levels of mental fatigue among staff members and an increase in levels of workplace wellbeing. 

Here are some ways that your business can incorporate biophilic design in your office: 

Introduce real and artificial plants  

Studies find that providing visual elements of nature within your workspace can help reduce stress and fatigue. In fact, mere exposure to green has a positive impact on creative performance, and at the same time, imparting a welcoming and relaxing environment. 

Adding real and artificial plants within your office premises does not only impact your office ambiance and aesthetics, but it can also effectively reduce unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches, coughing, and a general feeling of being unwell, as plants reduce dust, mold, and CO2 levels. 

Make the most of natural daylight 

While some may imagine traditional office spaces with bright artificial lighting, many companies prefer to locate in spaces with open windows providing natural lighting and giving views from the outside. 

A recent study has confirmed that natural light in your office improves productivity and the overall health of employees. “Light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body,” said Ivy Cheung, one of the authors of a study finding the connection of daylight exposure to employee health and productivity. “Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the earth’s daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health.”  

To make the most of your office’s natural light, make sure windows aren’t fully covered by blinds, and that workers’ desks are faced towards windows, rather than away from them. 

Stick to neutral and natural color schemes 

One of the key components of biophilic design is utilizing natural colors and incorporating a neutral color palette to the space itself. Interior designers say that biophilic design uses earth colors and tones such as greens, browns, golds, and tans, as well as blues and whites to mimic the sky and the sea. 

Add wood, stone, and granite details 

Studies find that tactile senses can play a huge role in adding biophilic elements in the office. Adding wood, stone, granite, and marble help in bringing the outside inside the enclosed office space. These materials can be incorporated as finishes on the likes of pillars, shelves, cupboards, and desks.  

Utilize available outdoor areas 

Office locations that offer outdoor spaces such as rooftops, balconies, and gardens can be more beneficial for businesses that are looking to adapting a biophilic workplace design. Add some comfortable seating and tables so staff can work outdoors when the weather permits as this access to natural light and fresh air have numerous benefits to your employees including increased productivity, creativity and wellbeing. 

Looking for an office space in Cebu City? Discuss your options with Lorenzo Rodriguez through (+63) 917-852-6884. For more information, send us an email at info@kmcmaggroup.com or reach out to us through (+632) 8403-5519.

Source: KMC Website

Promoting Health and Well-being in the Workplace: Simple exercises you can squeeze in within your workspace

Finding time to exercise can be a challenge, especially for those who work 8am to 5pm office jobs. This lack of activity doesn’t just affect your health; it can have a direct impact on your work performance and employee engagement. According to a research published on the Journal of Workplace Health Management

  • 60% of employees said their time management skills, mental performance, and the ability to meet deadlines improved on days they exercised  
  • 27% of employees reported higher levels of “dealing calmly with stress” on days they have worked out; and  
  • 41% of the sampled employees reported higher rates of work motivation during the days they have squeezed in a workout  

While the lack of time and space is a common excuse, incorporating physical activity in the daily should be one of your top priorities in balancing work and life. Work out while you work! Here are some simple exercises you can try: 

Start with your commute 

With the worsening condition of traffic, it may be a good idea to combat it with new ways of traveling to the office—by walking or biking to work! If you live far and commuting can’t be out of the picture, get off a few blocks early or get down at an earlier stop. Set a target distance of how much you can walk. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the parking lot or in a nearby lot. 

Premium green buildings, such as JEG Tower @ One Acacia provides shower rooms for tenants and employees who will feel the need to freshen up and have a quick shower after walking or cycling to the building. 

Hit the stairs
Another easy yet effective work out? Take the stairs instead. Alight the elevators a few floors below your office then just climb your way up. Some find it easier to use the stairs at the end of the day to reach the lobby which works too. At the middle of the day, you can also use the stairs to walk up and down the rooftop for a 15-minute break. 

Get up and work 

Did you know that an average office worker spends almost 1,700 hours in a year in front of a computer screen? A study has found that this is about 75% of the time employees spend in a day. Get creative in finding ways you can get out of your chair every once in a while: Stand while talking on the phone, walk to a colleague’s desk for a face-to-face chat, or take the longer route to the bathroom. 

Join company-organized health programs 

Companies who promote a healthy lifestyle and work life balance organizes and facilitates various programs to encourage employees to be more aware of their health and well-being. This can vary from wellness talks, after or before work fitness sessions, green eating workshops, and the like.  

Give seated exercises a go 

Work out without even standing up and leaving your desk! Try these simple and easy exercises which you can do while sitting down and while working: 

  • Seated leg raises 

This exercise is so simple and low maintenance your co-workers won’t even have a clue. Sit upright in your office chair. Straighten your left leg so that it is parallel to the floor and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. Do this routine for both legs for 15 repetitions. One you build up strength, try adding weight to your legs by looping your purse or briefcase on your legs while you do the raises. 

  • Hovering leg raises 

This is a more advanced—yet still easy routine while seated. Sit upright in your chair. But this time, raise both legs so that they are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your legs until they are hovering an inch or two above the ground. Hold the position for as long as you can, and then release. 

  • The Football Fast Feet 

Sit in your desk chair with your feet flat on the ground. Rapidly tap your feet in place, as if running in place while sitting down. Do this without stopping for 30 seconds. Pause for 5 seconds. Then do it again for 30 seconds straight. Experts encourage to do this simple workout every half an hour or so to bring up your heart rate. 

Source: KMC Website

Defining Sustainability: Casas+Architects discusses why it matters in design and construction

As the call for more initiatives to combat climate change has become more urgent, sustainable and ‘green’ real estate is seen to be one of the most effective efforts from the building and construction sector to take part in.  

Casas+Architects is one of the country’s pioneers in designing better buildings. Committed to integrating the architectural design with their natural environment, the firm utilizes the company values of imagination, creativity, and skill from the creation of concept down to the most minute construction of sustainable structures in the Philippines. 

Designing Better Buildings 

“Beyond our commitment to distinction, our goal is to work for a positive impact on individual lives, the environment, and communities through sustainable design,” Architect Meloy Casas, founder and president of Casas+Architects said. “The goal of every sustainable building is to reduce the carbon footprint during its construction and lessen its negative impacts to the environment throughout its lifecycle,” he added. 

Being one of the multi-awarded architectural firms in the country, their thrust towards promoting sustainability with their projects is what defines their work and differentiates them from the rest. Since 2008, they helped in forming the Manila skyline, completing notable structures such as the Grand Hyatt/Metrobank Center, Pacific Plaza, Icon Residences, and Maybank Performing Arts Center, among others. 

Cebu’s Frontrunners of Sustainable Real Estate 

Today, they are expanding their operations to the Visayas with the design of one of its newest premium ‘green’ buildings, JEG Tower @ One Acacia. Architect Meloy has translated JEG Development Corporation (JDC)’s vision of making Cebu City more livable. 

“After a serious bidding process with other well-known architectural firms, the board selected Casas, not only because of his expertise but also because it was felt that he best knew how to turn JDC’s long-term dreams into a reality,” Stefan Garcia, the company’s Estate and Business Development Manager said. 

Driven to push forward this initiative to become the new standard, JDC specifically partnered with Casas+Architects to design this 22-floor tower towards sustainability, using environment-friendly materials and would operationalize as energy-efficient as possible. It is also one of the first buildings in the Cebu business park to be LEED pre-certified. 

“Architect Meloy was very active in the initial design stages of the building and has continued to be very present throughout the whole process,” Garcia added.

“The building design is the most important factor in achieving points for LEED certification,” Michael Glindro, Senior Manager for Landlord Representation of KMC said. “It is critical to have all stakeholders and design team members to plan and coordinate the design properly to build a truly green and sustainable building,” he added. 

KMC handles all the sale and leasing transactions for JEG Tower @ One Acacia, which is set to be completed early next year. 

Why Go ‘Green’? 

‘Green’ buildings are more costly to build and operate, however, this is Casas+Architects and JDC’s investment to a better future for the environment.  

“We’re doing this not with the cost in mind,” Marko Sarmiento, JDC’s COO stated. “The ‘green’ movement in the real estate industry has so much potential, and I think the Cebuanos can benefit from it,” he said. 

From the design perspective, Architect Casas said that going ‘green’ benefits both landlords and tenants in the long run. 

“’Green’ operations and management can reduce operating costs, enhance building marketability, increase workers’ productivity and reduce potential liability resulting from indoor air quality problems,” he enumerated. “On the other hand, the indoor environmental quality of ‘green’ buildings can have a significant effect on the health and well-being of its occupiers.” 

“If we are building something, we are doing it the best way possible,” Ayla Gomez, JDC’s brand manager added. 

“Early on in the design phase, he encouraged us to dream big and not to think too much of the financial impact,” Sarmiento shared. “Some of the early designs were contrasting with what we eventually decided on, which made the process fun and engaging.” 

The Identifiers of Success 

Designing and building a ‘green’ building in the Philippines, especially in Cebu, comes with a challenge, however, Architect Casas saw this as an opportunity to excel even more.  

“The building orientation and location was a great challenge since its located on a prominent corner lot and bounded by two busy streets,” he said, citing one of the many technical difficulties in bringing his design to life.  

“The design would make the most of the unusual shape of the corner lot on Archbishop Reyes which is sure to become an icon of the Cebu skyline,” Garcia said. 

Architect Meloy Casas made a name for himself in the industry as a man with boundless passion and dedication for his craft. His eye for architecture and his ability to see beyond the essence of his design is what makes him one of the most trusted names in the industry. 

“JDC always desires to work with people at the forefront of the industry, matching the visionary ideals we hold to make Cebu a better place in which to live,” Garcia stated. “With Casas+Architects’ high-skilled workforce and use of technology, married well with our vision, and it hard for us to imagine what it would be like with a less expert firm.” 

“Considering the stature and reputation as one of the country’s leading Architects, working with Architect Casas has been as much a learning experience as it has been a great pleasure,” Sarmiento said. “Despite his many projects, he took the time to personally guide us through the process of selecting the design that was right for us,” he added. 

Building a more livable Cebu: Top 5 green initiatives in Cebu City

As the condition of Climate Change continues to worsen, more and more institutions are driving programs and initiatives to help in combatting its effects and minimize harmful impacts on the environment. According to global reports, the world is already at its “tipping point” wherein various activities of modern man have been accelerating the global warming to the extent of changing climate patterns and endangering all forms of life.

In 2006, Cebu City has been named as the second most air-polluted city in the country. The city is also 6th out of the 16 Philippine cities vulnerable to Climate Change. Due to these alarming information, the Cebu City Government has been actively proposing measures to address this pressing issue, from conducting an annual ‘Carless Day’ to requiring vehicles to undergo regular emission tests, especially for those who are always stuck in traffic. Different programs are also set which aim to achieve an effective and efficient program to establish a clean and better environment for Cebu City residents.

More than these programs, other initiatives were also launched by individuals and non-government organizations to help the cause.

Plantable Pencils

Eco Hub, a start-up company based in Cebu City, has successfully launched its product, pencils that can grow back into plants and trees when planted. This innovation is no different from regular pencils, except that its tail end is a “gelatin capsule” that contains plant seeds in place of an eraser.

Eco Hub’s plantable pencils have capsules on the tips containing seeds which can grow into plants and trees

“This gives it a new lease on life. Instead of being thrown away, the plantable pencil becomes a symbol of sustainability,” Eco Hub said on their Facebook page.

A pencil costs Php. 20 each, and it comes in different seed options: tomato, mint, basil, sunflower, carrot, or citronella seeds, among others. The start-up sells other sustainable products such as reusable straws and utensils to further support the cause.

Plastic Ban

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena has signed a memo banning all single-use plastics in government offices. Food vendors can no longer use plastic bags, straws, cups, containers, and utensils in selling food to employees and visitors. Instead, every government employee and official is encouraged to bring their own reusable containers.

The government officials are pushing this initiative forward as they propose an ordinance prohibiting establishments, particularly groceries and supermarkets to use plastic bags for the next three years. Currently, this rule applies every Wednesdays and Saturdays as provided under Ordinance 2343.

Plant. Plant, Plant Program

In contrast to the Duterte Administration’s flagship infrastructure program ‘Build, Build, Build’, the region’s Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-7) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) implements a rule to replace every tree that will be affected by the ongoing projects under the program.

The government plans to grow over 3,000 trees to compensate the Build, Build, Build program in Cebu

“This is going to be the first time that DPWH will include as one important component, that is the preservation and conservation of our environment,” DPWH-7 (Central Visayas) Regional Director Edgar Tabacon told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

In a January 8, 2019 memorandum of agreement signed by both agencies, the DENR-7 undertakes to implement the planting the trees replacing those that will be taken out due to civil works. Tabacon explained that every “planted” tree that will be affected by an infrastructure project will be replaced with 50 trees, while every “naturally-grown” tree will be replaced with 100 trees.

#ChallengeForChange

This campaign for change was started online. Abhi Yeole, an Indian national who resides in Cebu has set up a Facebook page called “We Don’t Deserve this Planet” with the goal of encouraging people to tidy their surroundings and take a “before” and “after” photo which they could post on their social media websites.

Yeole told Cebu Daily News that he and his group initially wanted to raise awareness on environmental concerns that are affecting the world today.

“We want to make people aware so that they know what’s the biggest problem today. Then, we ask for action to bring change,” he said.

Yeole said that they have been getting favorable responses from all over the world, as participants of the challenge range from residents of the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, India, and Thailand among others.

JEG Tower @ One Acacia

Being the second most populated urban area of the Philippines after Metro Manila, Metro Cebu has been experiencing a massive economic boom the past few years. Since the growth of the IT-BPM industry in the region, the demand for office and retail spaces in the Queen City of the South has also been on the rise. JEG Tower @ One Acacia, the city’s first green building. The 22-story building will offer additional Grade A office spaces in Cebu, without further contributing to the negative impacts of commercial spaces in the city.

JEG Tower @ One Acacia is rising soon, taking Cebu City one step closer to being greener.

JDC, the corporation behind this initiative, specifically designed their first high rise project towards sustainability which made use of environment-friendly materials and would operationalize as energy efficient as possible. The sustainable design of the building does not only benefit the environment but also takes care of the overall well-being of its occupiers.

“Green developments aren’t a standard yet in Cebu, but we want to take the initiative starting with this building,” Marko Sarmiento, JDC’s Chief Operating Officer stated.

“The green movement in the Real estate industry has so much potential, and I think the Cebuanos can benefit from it,” he said.

June is National Environment Month. DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales stated that this year’s celebration aims to raise awareness on how air pollution is destroying not just the environment but also the health and general well-being of the public. These initiatives, regardless of scale, are successful in increasing awareness and contributing to the cause against Climate Change, especially in Cebu City.