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Oppenheim Architecture + Design Unveils First Certified “Green” Project in the Philippines

The Net Metropolis development will be the first to use the country's new BERDE green building rating system


BERDE, Net Lima, Net Metropolis, Phillipines

A conceptual image of the Net Metropolis project, which is slated to be completed in 2014.

International “green” architect Chad Oppenheim has been selected by top Philippine developer, The Net Group, to design the nation’s first certified green project. The Net Metropolis is the flagship pilot development of the recently created Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC) to answer to the local environment’s specific needs. 

Oppenheim, who has a growing reputation for his green design work, participated with the PHILGBC in the actual creation of the nation’s new rating system, Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE). That system will be applied to the design of the first tower in the Net Metropolis project, the Net Lima.

“It is extremely exciting to not only be designing something so forward-thinking in terms of sustainable design, but to know that we were actually developing the new standard that will apply to all future developments in the country,” says Chad Oppenheim. “Realizing that if all follow this benchmark, our work will pioneer the future creation of a country’s sustainable, high-design urban landscape, fulfills what our firm looks to do for design and the world.”

The Net Metropolis, 5th Avenue was conceived as a landmark to represent the developers’ next generation of iconic and environmentally responsive buildings.

“As the Philippines is answering the call to go ‘green’ in Southeast Asia, we needed a visionary who could solidify our spot at the front of the movement. Oppenheim is just that,” says Jacques Dupasquier, chairman of The Net Group.

First Design Under BERDE Rating System

Oppenheim’s master plan concept for The Net Metropolis, 5th Avenue is composed of three towers that span a three-acre block and range from 24 to 40 stories resting on six levels of above-grade parking. The project will further balance nature and architecture by integrating two recreational parks that serve as both amenity spaces and soothing, intricately landscaped focal points. Oppenheim seeks to marry beauty and sustainability; thus, his overall design is derived from a study of solar conditions and outward views. The towers are oriented so each is rotating off the other’s axis, with each subsequent structure fanning out in a dynamic and cascading direction.

Because it is a pilot project, Net Lima will showcase several green “firsts” in the local market. Given the intense heat of the tropical environment, the most pioneering green feature is the combination of sun shading and a high performance glass curtain wall to minimize incident solar heat gain and optimize natural light, all while preserving the scenic views. The tower is wrapped with leading edge diagonal aluminum solar screen overlays. These screens form oversails that define the form of the towers, all of which sharply point to the sky above. The double-glazed curtain wall glass features a low-emissivity coating that rejects heat. 

According to the PHILGBC, the largest and costliest energy consumer for a commercial building in the Philippines is air conditioning. The green façade of Net Lima is a strategic tool to help reduce that cost and energy consumption all year round.

For Oppenheim, whose Miami-based practice includes projects around the globe, “Intermingling and infusing our designs with natural environments is our mission in all designs we do, and that goal is coming to fruition for the first time in an authentic way for the local environment of the Philippines with this development.”

“What appeals to me the most in Chad’s design is aesthetic performance,” says Rufino. “Net Lima is going to look radically different from other buildings in the Philippines due to its sun shading and curtain wall façade. Yet this element is also key to the building’s ‘green’ efficiency.”

Also included in the Net Lima are fiberglass fuel storage tanks with built-in leak detection, which are used for generators during power outages. Compared to industry standard steel tanks, the fiberglass tanks reduce the risk of leaks and contamination; they also have a life span twice as long and can easily be repaired and serviced. The building also harvests condensate water from the A/C system for landscaping, cleaning and other needs, and recycles cool exhaust air to provide comfort cooling to the arcade area in front of the lobby. In addition, all members of the Project Team were required to be members of the PHILGBC.

The Philippines’ New Green Standard

Compared to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system found in the U.S., BERDE answers to the ecological needs of Filipinos in their own environment. As such, the Net Metropolis project leads the way in translating internationally-accepted green building practices into a national set of standards adapted to the local conditions and environment. 

“As the rating systems from other countries didn’t apply to our tropical weather, laws, best practice or realities, local industry clamored for our own green building rating system. The PHILGBC responded by facilitating a consultative and consensus driven process to create the Philippine Green Building Rating System [BERDE]. This was the best way to transform the market,” says Christopher De la Cruz, chairman of the PHILGBC.

“The powerful role that Net Lima plays is proof of concept for Green Building and BERDE in the Philippines. We set very high standards in the design and specification for this green office tower,” says Raymond Rufino, executive vice president for The Net Group.

This iconic structure is situated in the prime center of The Philippines’ business district, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The development will come to life as a 1,550,000-square-foot mixed-use, office/retail complex beginning with the completion of the Net Lima in 2011. Final completion of entire development is set for 2014. Oppenheim is now entering the design phase for the second tower of the Net Metropolis, 5th Avenue project, and working under the BERDE system they helped create with the PHILGBC. Learn more about the Net Metropolis project at the Oppenheim Architecture + Design website.