Answering Nature’s call

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

IT HAS always been a challenge for architects to convince clients to adopt “green” technologies in their buildings. Yet with environmental consciousness being part of their professional training, architects continue to promote the design approach.

“I always sell the idea of full-on green architecture to my clients,” says Cebuano architect Rolan Paolo Alberto when asked how he would promote sustainability in his projects. He added, “The structure (must be) designed to be sustainable, using energy-saving materials like solar panels, double-glazed glasses and the like.”

Alberto is just sounding what most of his colleagues in the profession are always off concerned about when designing buildings. He is the incumbent district director of the United Architects of the Philippines Regional District C1, which covers Central Visayas chapters of group, including five in Cebu.


His main task is to facilitate the cascading of programs from the UAP national scene to his district. Thus, last year’s theme for the National Architecture Week, which the country celebrates every first week of December, was a timely reminder not just for architects but for everyone in the community.

Members of the UAP all over the archipelago were immersed in a flurry of activities that aimed to promote the advocacy behind last year’s celebration, “Arkitekturang Tugon sa Kalikasan.” Here in Cebu, lecture series on important issues concerning local architecture and their impact on cities were held to ride on with this advocacy.

Alberto has his hands full as district director, which he describes as “challenging.”

In addition to his service with the professional organization, he also tends to his private practice and manages his family’s glass and aluminum business. So it is important for him to spend quality time with his family and a few hours of golf with other architects and friends to counter any work-related stress.

Back to his practice, he maintains the principle of “simplicity in design” in dealing with his projects.

“Simple is effective, economical and of course beautiful,” he says. Such simplicity goes well with the often complicated issues that one has to consider in also coming up with an environmentally sensitive building design, which local cities today badly need.

He admires other cities abroad that have given deeper consciousness on this issue by urging the government to define energy-saving policies.

Alberto points out the US city of Berkeley where “city-owned buildings underwent energy retrofits where incandescent lamps were replaced with new compact fluorescent lamps, and residential and commercial building owners were given financing initiatives if they installed renewable and solar technology. With these, they were able to save on electricity, natural gas, and taxpayer’s money annually,” he explains.

The architect believes that Cebu can also take a similar drive towards lessening the negative impact on the environment through its buildings and structures. He admits that there are already measures being prepared towards going green and that it only needs a “strong resolve” from the government leaders to enforce all of these.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2013.


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