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Filinvest REIT primed for the ‘Green Shift’ in office leasing

Green strategies are seen to have a greater impact on real estate decisions of office occupiers, said property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Singapore in its recently released global study, Future of Work 2022. The study covering 13 key global markets, including global leaders USA, China, Japan, Middle East, UK, and Australia, cited that 56% of the commercial real estate occupiers surveyed are already paying or are willing to pay a premium to occupy space that has leading sustainability and green credentials.

“In the Philippines, we have been seeing this preferential shift to green and sustainable office spaces pre-pandemic. We believe that this is the result of the People, Planet, Performance agenda prioritization across companies worldwide. Our experience with our global client portfolio attests to a similar conclusion as JLL that the ‘green shift’ has grown considerably over the past few years. This allowed us to leverage on our strengths and further unlock value for Filinvest REIT Corp. (FILRT), the first sustainability-themed REIT listed on the local bourse,” said Maricel Brion-Lirio, Filinvest REIT president.

FILRT boasts of a portfolio that consists of 17 Grade A office buildings, which include green and sustainability-themed features. Of these, 16 are in Northgate Cyberzone in Filinvest City in Alabang. Filinvest City is the first central business district in the Philippines to receive LEED® v4 Gold for Neighborhood Development Plan certification for its township-wide green and sustainability features. Filinvest City is also the first and only CBD to receive a 3-star BERDE rating. Rounding up the portfolio is Filinvest Cyberzone Cebu, a PEZA-accredited joint-venture development with the Province of Cebu. FILRT was recently recognized by Real Estate Asia Awards as the REIT Initiative of the Year and Office Development of the Year, together with the prestigious Asia CEO Awards as a Circle of Excellence Awardee for Sustainability Company of the Year.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world created by the US Green Building Council. LEED-certified buildings save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people. The BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) Program on the other hand was established by the Philippine Green Building Council as an appropriate response to the Philippine building industry’s need to proactively address the negative impacts of climate change.

Two other green certifications are also gaining traction globally, namely WELL and EDGE. WELL is a performance-based system by the International Well Building Institute for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. EDGE or Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies is an innovation of the International Finance Corp. (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group focused exclusively on the private sector. EDGE is an international green building rating system focusing on energy, water, and embodied energy in materials. EDGE quantitatively measures, improves, and reports efficiencies, utility savings, and environmental impacts. To date, EDGE has certified more than 876,000 sq.m. of space in the Philippines, preventing 23,000 tCO2 per year and unlocking opportunities for key sectoral players.

“We applaud Filinvest REIT for being at the forefront of the green building movement in the Philippines through their registration of six office towers toward an EDGE certification,” said Jean-Marc Arbogast, IFC country manager for the Philippines.

Two of the properties in the FILRT portfolio, namely Axis Tower One and Vector Three, are among the country’s few LEED Gold-certified developments. More additional buildings from FILRT’s portfolio are lined up for LEED certification as well. FILRT is aiming for a triple-certified portfolio with its thrust to attain WELL and EDGE certifications for its developments in addition to LEED.

“FILRT’s green certifications complemented by our other sustainability-driven initiatives including our own District Cooling System and our shift to renewable energy sources is a proof of concept that sustainability indeed improves quality of life. It in turn affirms our development’s brand value, and ultimately enhances our land values. By investing in FILRT that have embedded sustainability principles, they are able to create an impact to the environment and society through a company that is focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet and performance. I believe that 3Ps companies like FILRT are better-positioned for the risks and opportunities of the future than those focused on profits alone,” added Ms. Brion-Lirio.

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