How green is my building

November 17, 2011

The future is green, says architect Willy Coscolluela. The latest technological advances in building design and the development of new construction materials have radically altered the way buildings are being made. For architects and contractors who want to help and improve the environment, the shift towards sustainability is vital. “I believe this is the way to go,” says Coscolluela of green practices at the worksite.

W.V. Coscolluela & Associates is part of the team of designers and builders involved in the 33-story Zuellig Building, the first high-rise with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Core and Shell) (LEED-CS) Gold Pre-certification in the Philippines. Located at the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue in the heart of the Makati Central Business District, the Zuellig Building is the first premium office building to be constructed in Makati since the construction boom in 2000.

Coscolluela notes that, from the project’s inception, the owners of the building wanted a world-class, green building. Their vision of a sustainable, environment-friendly structure was in support of the green movement in urban design that was then still in its infancy.

Presently, there is one globally recognized standard when it comes to sustainable construction efforts. The LEED Green Building Rating System was initiated in the United States by the US Green Building Council in 2000 to offer an international standard to measure the design and building process in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Buildings can qualify for four levels of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The rating system provides for third-party validation, through a reviewer accredited by the Green Building Certification Institute. Its guidelines are regularly updated and enhanced, and are adapted and suited to various local conditions, including that of the Philippines.

Coscolluela says that the design team, which includes New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as design consultants, Leighton Asia as contractors and Meinhardt Engineering, worked in collaboration with a LEED consultant to ensure that the building design is energy efficient. Based on a set of LEED criteria, the building received LEED Gold pre-certification in 2009.

Coscolluela says proudly, “With its LEED Gold pre-certification, the Zuellig Building represents leadership in energy and environmental design in the highest degree for high-rise office structures. It will also be a big accomplishment for the team that is involved in this green high-rise office building.”

In simple terms, Coscolluela defines a green building as a structure that uses environmentally responsible and resource-efficient processes throughout the building’s life cycle.

“Buildings have an enormous impact, whether directly or indirectly, on the environment, such as consuming a lot of fresh water supply, emitting a large percentage of greenhouse gases, adding to waste problems and consuming a lot of electricity to name a few,” he explains. “It is these everyday usage that people are getting more conscious of how we must preserve our resources.”

Creating pioneering building designs is not new for Coscolluela. His firm has been at the forefront of major construction projects in the country. These include SM City North EDSA, the largest mall in its time; the Twin Towers condominium, the first exclusive residential towers of Ayala Corp.; and Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas Center, the first mixed-use development in the country.

His design firm also undertook a number of international projects including the Raintree Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and a variety of residential projects in Malaysia and Singapore.

This is also not the first time Coscolluela is working with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as they had collaborated to develop the design for the RCBC Plaza, Philam Tower and Robinsons PCIB Tower.

The Zuellig Building boasts a design first. To give it a distinct look from the rest of the Makati cityscape, the building is designed with an all-glass façade and the use of large floor-to-ceiling double-glazed glass panels, which minimize inside heat while maximizing the penetration of natural sunlight to help optimize electric consumption in the use of air conditioners. The ceramic frit pattern on the glass curtain wall supplements the shading properties of the building’s glass exterior and its bamboo-inspired design gives the building a unique identity.

The Zuellig Building stands on a generous space of 8,285 square meters. Tenants and guests approach the building through a landscaped 2,500 square-meter private garden and driveway that flow seamlessly to a lobby area that rises up to two stories.

The building consists of a main tower and a two-story retail pavilion that will address the daily conveniences required by office tenants and the public. With 16 high-speed elevators servicing the office tower, reaching the Sky Garden on the 32nd floor will be quick and easy. Likewise, the glass cladding offers unobstructed 360-degree views of Metro Manila.

The building boasts many green features. A daylight dimming system reduces the output of electrical lighting based on the intensity of daylight. The all-glass exterior ensures daylight in 90 percent of interior spaces. The Zuellig Building will also be the first high-rise building to use solar panels to help cut down electricity costs.

Water is conserved by capturing rain and condensate water. The building will be installed with premium drainage and irrigation systems. This setup is expected to save 29 million liters of potable water annually. The chilled water pumps in the building are equipped with variable speed drives to reduce energy consumption during off-peak hours.

There are carbon dioxide sensors in the building that modulate outside airflow according to the estimated number of occupants to bring in superior indoor air quality at all times. A waste recycling facility will also be available to all tenants.

The building will install secured bicycle racks to encourage tenants to leave their cars at home. “We even have provision for showers in the building, so that office workers can freshen up from their ride to work before going to their offices,” Coscolluela adds.

The architect agrees that constructing a green building may entail a little more expense than the traditional way of building, but he stresses that the times require that all possible means of protecting the environment be taken.

“It is a little more expensive than designing normal buildings due to certain procedures, guidelines and requirements that need to be strictly followed, and by consciously taking extra effort in making your design environmentally friendly,” he says. “However, it benefits the building tenants with an improved indoor environment, reduced energy usage, increased employee productivity, and reduced impact on our external environment. It will provide tenants with immeasurable benefits in terms of energy savings, lower operating costs, and superior indoor air quality.”

For Coscolluela, the Zuellig Building is an important milestone, not just for his stellar career, but also for the local community of architects and builders. From his first residential projects to his landmark commercial structures, Coscolluela has been a respected and acclaimed authority in the industry due to his exemplary work. As vice chairman of the Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA), he has been a key figure in the improvement and redevelopment of the Makati CBD as the country’s premier financial center. Always open to learning and improving his craft, this Mapua graduate intends to integrate international green principles in all his future projects.

“This project is important to me because by designing this green building, it will help pave the way for other architects to promote green principles in architecture,” he says. “With this direction, the green advantage will promote energy savings and water conservation, enhance landscape surroundings, power-saving lights, carbon dioxide monitoring and the productivity and wellness of its occupants.”

With Coscolluela’s leadership and example, his two sons, who have followed in his footsteps and are partners in the firm, will ensure that W.V. Coscolluela & Associates remains fully dedicated to excellence and committed to protecting the environment.

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