FOLLOWING the destruction wrought by Tropical Depression Agaton in Northern Mindanao, an emerging leader in the Philippine sustainable building sector reiterates its commitment to help Cagayan de Oro become a more climate-resilient city.
“When we first came to Cagayan de Oro in 2009, we were told that the city was outside the typhoon belt. But Tropical Storm Sendong came along, then Pablo and now Agaton. Clearly, the weather in the city is rapidly changing and it is incumbent upon us to adapt quickly to this new reality,” said Architect Romolo V. Nati, CEO and Executive Chairman of Italpinas Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation, owners and developers of Primavera Residences, the city’s first climate resilient building.
As the developer of CdO’s first eco-friendly, mixed-use condominium complex, Arch. Nati reiterates ITPI’s commitment share its expertise in sustainable architecture and green entrepreneurship to help CdO adapt to climate change.
“All indicators point to CdO as one of the cities that will lead the country’s growth in future decades, but we also know for sure that it is also a city that’s vulnerable to climate change,” notes Lawer Jojo Leviste, Arch. Nati’s partner and President of ITPI. Leviste is also President of Constellation Energy Corporation, a sister firm of ITPI dedicated to renewable energy.
Cagayan de Oro ranks as the country’s most competitive city in 2013 and is also listed among the country’s fastest-growing city economies, Leviste noted. Economists even predict that CdO will become the gateway, not only to Mindanao, but to the emerging markets of Southeast Asia, he noted.
“In fact, CdO has become a magnet for regional offices of multinational corporations, as well as many business process outsourcing companies,” Leviste said.
CdO vulnerable to climate change
According to Management of Climate Change Impacts, a 2013 study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Bank of the Philippines (BPI) Foundation Inc on 12 Philippine cities, CdO is one of the cities identified to be vulnerable to the impact of climate change
However, Arch. Nati believes weather data tells only “half the story.”
“To fully understand CdO’s vulnerability to climate change, it’s important to look at the city’s hydrology and topography as well,” he notes from the WWF-BPI Foundation study.
The study cites how the drainage systems of the Tagoloan and the Cagayan Rivers which box in the city on the east and west are fed by rainfall from Bukidnon’s high plateau, which has an annual volume over 60% higher than that of the city itself.
He notes how Cagayan de Oro itself is a rapidly expanding urban heat sink which enhances evaporation and aggravates the build up of moisture in the hills above the city, triggering even more rain.
“In fact, a JICA study submitted to the National Water Resource Bureau estimates that from 2005 to 2025, Region X will show the highest levels of water available in the country.” JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is the independent governmental agency that coordinates the Japanese government’s official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries.
Even more than hits from typhoons, it is flash floods from extreme rainfall, flowing down the rivers and running off the slopes of upland Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon that Cagayan de Oro has to watch out for, highlights the WWF-BPI Foundation study.
ITPI committed to developing CdO’s climate-resiliency
“But while the problem is huge, it can be addressed — or at least we’d like to believe so,” said Atty. Leviste. “After all, we’re already invested in the city and we’re investing even more soon,” he added. “We’re in CdO to stay.”
ITPI plans news projects in the city after the success of Primavera Residences, the twin 10-storey towers which incorporate best-in-class passive cooling technologies such as shadow and sunlight control, wind cooling and aerodynamics.
Last December, ITPI disclosed its intent to develop at least US$200 million worth of projects within the next six years, led by a larger mixed-use development in CdO. Architect Nati said ITPI is proud of the new project’s sustainable design which won it the “Most Promising Clean Energy Investment Opportunity in the Philippines” award in 2013 from CTI-PFAN.
Since it was formed in 2009, Italpinas has quickly taken the lead in creating unique property developments in the country’s emerging cities. All of ITPI’s projects —whether current, in the pipeline or on the drawing board — feature sustainable architecture designs that are combined with on-site production of renewable energy.
“To prepare for a future defined by climate change, CdO has to manage its rapid urbanization to lessen the damage from climate change,” Nati said. “One good way to do this is to strategically diffuse population concentrations by building in the less crowded areas of the city, then to put up efficient mass transit and freight transport systems to link these diffuse settlements.”
“New climate-smart infrastructure is also a very important part of creating climate resilient settlements,” Nati said.
“For one, sea levels are expected to rise because of increasing temperatures. With the occasional storm surge, Cagayan de Oro has to retro-fit its seaports,” he said. CdO’s world-class international sea port is an emerging hub in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest international sea-lanes.
“We’d like to think we’ve done our small part by developing Primavera Residences in an elevated area that’s virtually flood-free at 110 meters above sea level,” Nati said. “It’s also a much less population-dense area, so we don’t contribute to urban congestion and worsening the city as a heat sink.”
More importantly, he cites how Primavera Residences was designed to lessen its overall energy consumption by around 20 percent through a passive green energy strategy that lessens its carbon footprint.
An active on-site energy generation from photovoltaic or solar cells, which will soon be installed on the roofs of both towers, will increase energy savings further.
Passive cooling techniques used in Primavera include an inner courtyard that combined with each units’ cross-ventilation layout, enhances natural airflow and optimizes natural light. This further decreases air-conditioning use and reduces the need for artificial lights.
The towers also use a shade strategy where cantilevered edges produce shadows that minimize direct sunlight moderating the temperature inside the units.