Italpinas eyes more climate resilient projects in Cagayan de Oro

‘We are ready to help Cagayan de Oro become a climate-resilient city’Italpinas

Following the destruction brought by Tropical Depression Agaton in Cagayan de Oro, an emerging leader in the Philippine sustainable building sector re-emphasized its commitment to help the City of Golden Friendship 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 (ITPI), owners and developers of Primavera Residences, the city’s first climate resilient and eco-friendly building.

As the developer of CDO’s first eco-friendly, mixed-use condominium complex, Arch. Nati emphasized ITPI’s commitment to share their expertise in green architecture and entrepreneurship that could help Cagayan de Oro 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,” said Atty. Jojo Leviste, Arch. the President of ITPI and Architect Nati’s partner. Leviste is also the President of Constellation Energy Corporation which is a sister firm of ITPI that focuses on 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. Economists even predict that CdO will become the gateway, not only to Mindanao, but to the emerging markets of Southeast Asia. In fact, CdO has become a magnet for regional offices of multinational corporations, as well as many business process outsourcing companies,” Leviste noted.

CDO vulnerable to climate change

According to Management of Climate Change Impacts, a study conducted last year by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Bank of the Philippines (BPI) Foundation Inc on 12 Philippine cities, Cagayan de Oro is one of the cities identified as 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,” Nati notes from the WWF-BPI Foundation study.

The study cites how the drainage systems of the Tagoloan and the Cagayan de Oro Rivers are swollen by rainfall coming from the high plateaus of Bukidnon which has an annual volume that is over 60% higher than that of the city itself.

Nati reiterated how Cagayan de Oro itself is a rapidly expanding urban center that is fast becoming a heat sink which enhances evaporation. This aggravates the build up of moisture in the hills above the city that triggers 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 nations.

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 new projects in the city after the success of Primavera Residences, the twin towers 10-storey condominium which incorporates world class passive cooling technologies such as shadow and sunlight control, wind cooling, and aerodynamics.

Last December, ITPI disclosed its intent to invest at least US$200 million worth of projects within the next six years in Cagayan de Oro which will be led by a larger mixed-use development. Architect Nati said ITPI is proud of the new project’s sustainable design which won the title as the “Most Promising Clean Energy Investment Opportunity in the Philippines in 2013” from CTI Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI-PFAN).

Since its inception in 2009, Italpinas has quickly taken the lead in creating unique and eco-friendly property developments in the country’s emerging cities. All of ITPI’s projects, from current to proposed 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. 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. Cagayan de Oro is blessed to have world-class international sea ports that is fast emerging hub in the South China Sea and 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 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. 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.”

Natti also he cited 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. It will use an active on-site energy generation from photovoltaic or solar cells which will soon be installed on the roofs of both towers. This will increase energy savings further.

Passive cooling techniques used at Primavera include an inner courtyard that combined with each units’ cross-ventilation layout, enhances natural airflow and optimizes natural light. This further lessens air-conditioning use and reduces the need for artificial lights.

The towers are also designed to have cantilevered edges that produce shadows that minimize direct sunlight moderating the temperature inside the units.