HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPEVINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL
While sustainability has been a global buzzword for over a decade now, and the concept of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) agendas were adopted by the United Nations some eight years ago; it’s still a term that’s often ignored, misunderstood, or at the very least, under-appreciated, here in the Philippines. Plus it doesn’t help when so many have joined the bandwagon, waving the sustainability flag, but with pale, diluted versions of how these companies adopt ESG initiatives.
That’s why I’ll tip my hat off to companies like Arthaland, who have been espousing the sustainability mantra since inception. Arthaland’s Vice Chairman and President Jaime C. González has been the “spiritual guru” for this real estate player; and ever since its’ first project, Arya Residences at the BGC, was completed, it’s steadfastly remained a crowning achievement of how sustainability can walk hand in hand with market viability and profitability. I say this because I’m old enough to remember when the Arya was being pre-sold, and not many appreciated the sustainable features, and how they were spoken in terms of the units may cost a bit more, but were a form of future-proofing.
Chiara G. Cox, speaking about sustainability as a family value proposition.
Fast forward to the present day, and if you ask real estate brokers what are the most coveted places of residence by expats and starter families in the BGC area, Arya will always be among the Top three of any broker’s list. Those Sustainable features truly work, and Arya home owners will boast of how much they save on utilities, without sacrificing a shred of ‘quality of life’. And you now see other developers playing catch up to this concept of sustainability.
On PositivelyFilipino.com, Chiara G. Cox recently contributed an article that spoke about how a sustainable agenda was something her father, Jaime C. González, and mother, Marie Constance Y. González, were espousing from early on in Chiara’s childhood. Even if wasn’t called “Sustainable” as such, and was more about recycling and best environment practices on the family farm, these values were ingrained in their family life, and in their outlook as stewards of the planet. So its’ not surprising to find that Arthaland would have these same beliefs as part of its corporate vision, and in its operational DNA.
It’s nice to note that Chiara credits her mother as being the heart and soul of this vision, and that she ‘infected’ her husband with the sustainable virus, “We all became involved in Mom’s projects… Dad just takes her ideas to a whole different level.” It’s a level that has translated to the Arthaland developments achieving these 2022 milestones: reducing water consumption by 58 percent, and decreasing energy use by 59 percent (exceeding their 20 percent and 40 percent respective targets). As a sustainable company, it pursues profitability while keeping social and environmental responsibilities top of mind. If it means paying more for sustainable materials and processes, and educating everyone involved, that will all be worth it; and eventually redound to the benefit of those who live and work in the Arthaland developments.
What I find highly commendable is that Arthaland is now out to prove that a broader market segment can enjoy sustainable, green community-living; and that it shouldn’t just be the domain of higher-end, luxury real estate. So now, there’s Una Apartments at Sevina Park, Biñan, Laguna. Sevina Park is the first development in Southeast Asia to be awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design) Platinum certification in the neighborhood development and homes categories, plus a five-star rating from BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence). With LEED certification, in ascending order, there’s certified, silver, gold and platinum.
The Una Apartments at Sevina Park, Laguna; which speaks of sustainability and accessibility - an artist’s rendition.
Una Apartments is on track for LEED, WELL, BERDE, and EDGE certifications; and will comprise of 28 sqm studio units and 40 sqm one bedroom units. They will have efficient AC, lighting and plumbing fixtures that collectively lower carbon emissions, improve air quality, and reduce electric and water bills by up to 20 percent. Units will have large windows to enhance and optimize natural ventilation and daylight. Each Una Tower will have its own rooftop Potager Garden; and Sevina Park will have a health and wellness clinic that’s created in partnership with The Medical City.
If you’re going to ask who ‘talks the talk, and walks the walk’ of sustainability in real estate development; I don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that Arthaland, with its portfolio that’s 100 percent certified sustainable by global and local organizations, has the right to be among those leading the conversation. Arthaland has also pledged to fully decarbonize its full portfolio by 2030; and after stating its aim, has already achieved 78 percent decarbonization. At Arthaland, as Chiara G. Cox says, “Sustainability is not something that you do once. It’s… a way of life.”