The Net Group: Green Building Pioneer

Net PlazaWhile many Filipino developers remain reluctant to invest in green building technologies that they perceive as costly, a company based in Taguig City did the opposite and was met with success.

Barely a decade since its founding in 1999, The Net Group (TNG)—developer and owner of seven intelligent office buildings within the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City—decided to make its future buildings green and to “greenify” its earlier developments.

“Real estate is, by nature, a long-term business. In order to be successful in the long-term, you can’t just look at maximizing your profit today; you have to look at your impact on the environment and your partnership with the community,” Ramon D. Rufino, TNG co-president, said.

He admitted that the task was a daunting one, so TNG decided that the transition will have to be done step-by-step.

“When we made the commitment (to go green), we looked at so-called low-hanging fruits, things that we can do quickly while generating maximum positive impact,” he said.  “This is why we decided to get renewable energy from AboitizPower.”

“We didn’t have to spend a lot on CAPEX (capital expense) and go through lengthy technical research. We just partnered with an established leader in the power industry,” Rufino said, adding that TNG shares AboitizPower’s triple bottom line approach to achieve a balance among planet, people, and profit.

TNG switched six of its buildings to Cleanergy, AboitizPower’s brand for renewable energy, in July 2013.

Rufino pointed out, though, that TNG’s commitment to becoming sustainable does not stop at using renewable energy. He said that TNG integrated the green philosophy into all aspects of property development, from design to construction to management.

“We are happy to be part of TNG’s leadership in sustainable building designs and in ‘greenifying’ communities. We will be partners with them in looking for better solutions and in building a better future for our communities,” AboitizPower SVP Luis Miguel Aboitiz said.

TNG tapped international architect Chad Oppenheim, known worldwide for sustainable building designs, to develop the concept for its Net Lima and Net Park office developments.

The Net Lima was the first project to be certified under the BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) rating tool of the Philippine Green Building Council with a 4 Star rating. It included features that are designed to reduce solar heat gain and optimize natural light to achieve energy efficiency. The property also uses a system that harvests rainwater and water condensate from air conditioning units.

Net Park is currently undergoing BERDE certification and hopes to be the first project to achieve a 5-Star rating, the highest possible rating under the green building rating tool.

Rufino said that for TNG, going green is not a mere marketing pitch.

He said that securing the BERDE certification was aimed to show that TNG is serious about pursuing sustainability for its buildings.  “It is our assurance that our buildings will perform above and beyond current norms and standards in terms of green performance,” he said.

TNG’s buildings have been recognized since 2011 by the Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards. In 2013, TNG was named the Philippine representative to the ASEAN Energy Awards Best Practice Competition in Buildings. In 2015, TNG’s Net Park became a finalist in the 5-Star Best Commercial High Rise Development category of the International Property Awards Regional and Global Division in London.

With a 54.5-percent gross leasable office space in Bonifacio Global City, TNG leads the real estate industry not only in terms of sustainable building design but also with its relations with its tenants.

Cristina S. Samson, TNG co-president, said their tenants, many of whom are Fortune 500 companies that share TNG’s concerns on environmental protection, help the group realize its green potential. She said that TNG tenants not only embrace energy conservation and environmental protection, but they also push for the green philosophy to be adopted by their employees.

She said that considering how climate change affects every individual on the planet, developers should discard the notion that going green is an expensive venture, and start taking sustainable initiatives.

“Look at what’s available in the market,” she said, adding that, in terms of energy needs, the open access regime offers companies, wanting to go green, the choice to tap into renewable sources of power, like AboitizPower’s Cleanergy.