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Phl ready for healthy buildings

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(From left) Samantha Allen, director of International WELL Building Institute Asia; Carmen Jimenez-Ong, founder & CEO, Menarco Development Corporation, and Rowena Ramos, chair of the PHILGBC BERDE Committee.

New industry player and Menarco Development founder Carmen Jimenez-Ong believes the country’s property development sector has what it takes to meet global standards in building healthier structures.

Her maiden project, Menarco Tower, located in Bonifacio Global City, is currently the “healthiest building in the Philippines” after receiving LEED and WELL certification at the Gold level.

Speaking before industry leaders during the Sustainable Building Forum 2019 organized by Arcadis Philippines Inc. entitled “The State and the Future of Sustainable Construction in the Philippines,” Jimenez-Ong emphasized the qualitative and quantitative returns of having both certifications.

“I wanted to breathe life into a real estate company that designs and creates spaces that are humanity centered — work spaces where employees could work at their best,” she shared. “I believe that Menarco has set the new normal in putting people and planet first, and I hope to stir the consciousness among my fellow builders about what is possible in our country. I see a future where buildings are healthy — translating into companies’ profitability and capacity to open more job opportunities — and ultimately, contribute to nation building.”

Citing the World Green Building Trends of 2018 in Southeast Asia by Dodge Data & Analytics, Jimenez-Ong said there is a growing preference for buildings that promote improved health and well-being of its occupants in Southeast Asia. In fact, 59 percent of respondents from Singapore and 71 percent from Vietnam said healthfulness would be in the top two social reasons why they are choosing to build green projects.

The Philippines is not too far behind, as Menarco Tower achieved WELL CertifiedTM Gold from the International WELL Building InstituteTM and Green Business Certification Inc. in March 2019, making it the healthiest building in Southeast Asia at the time.

“We did not pursue these gold certifications to be first, but because we knew it was the best contribution we could give to the Philippines. Imagine, Southeast Asia’s healthiest building proudly stands in our country!” Jimenez-Ong beamed. Although she dreams of the local industry going toward the same route, she understands that profitability becomes an issue at the end of the day.

According to the study, one of the key obstacles in building sustainable green projects in Southeast Asia is the perceived high cost of construction.

Jimenez-Ong explained that Menarco added approximately 2.4 percent only to the original building cost to create a sustainable space that meets the gold standards of LEED and WELL. She expects to recoup this supplementary investment within four to five years because of substantial savings it has gained from operational costs.

“These global sustainable rating systems are well-thought out tools so that developers can achieve the highest building standards correctly. They target what really matters to ensure that we are doing the right thing and using our budget efficiently,” Jimenez-Ong said. She added that working with knowledgeable institutions like Arcadis Philippines helped them through the process, learning from case studies on other projects here and abroad.

Jimenez-Ong further affirmed that discerning, sustainability-minded tenants find it wiser to lease office spaces in Menarco Tower not just from the utilities savings, but also for the overall high standard of maintenance quality they receive.

“It is my hope that by blazing a trail and creating the healthiest office tower in the country, Menarco has triggered a paradigm shift in putting people first when designing any built environment — whether it be an airport, transportation system, or any public and private structure. Let’s demand more from our builders, architects, engineers, developers, government bodies, and lawmakers so everyone until the next generation can enjoy the benefits,” Jimenez-Ong concluded.

Get more information about Menarco Tower and its healthful features through its official website at www.menarco.com.ph.

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