The Green Forum: “KLIMA-Kialam”

The Green Forum: “KLIMA-Kialam”

Ar./EnP. Sylvester D. Seno, MArch-CTM, ASSOC AIA, FRIA, PGBI AA+ADP, ICOMOS
Dean, College of Architecture, Adamson University
National Treasurer, Council of Deans and Heads of Architecture Schools of the Philippines (CODHASP) FY21-22

KEYPOINTS AND SYNTHESIS

  1. Filipinos have low level of climate change knowledge, based from empirical studies. Ironically, Filipinos are naturally resilient (or shall we say “persevering”). There is a need translate that resiliency to action to address climate change.
  2. Professional Regulation Commission – Board of Architecture has seriously created a separate track on Sustainability in its Career Progression and Specialization program (CPSP) and has made it as its theme for the forthcoming 10th Philippine Association of Professional Regulatory Boards (PAPRB) on the latter part of this year.
  3. Pandemic has made us rethink our approaches in design, as nature was able to recover during the lockdowns.
  4. Climate change is a bigger problem versus the current health crisis 
  5. GreenAP has conducted a series of highly engaging projects despite the pandemic, which encourages small-scale actions with ripple effect. 
  6. There is a immediate need to bring climate change to mainstream consciousness in easily relatable terms 
  7. There is a Climate emergency, and not a Climate crisis 
  8. A change in everyone’s mindset and lifestyle change will cause significant effect to addressing climate crisis. This has an impact to manufacturing process, architectural design (UN SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities), and life cycle of all our products. (Example: Carbon off-setting is just a REACTIVE practice, rather we should be PROACTIVE in preventing buildup of CARBON emissions in the first place during the production process)
  9. We should always be positive in all our endeavors. Pandemic has created a new but better normal with greater work productivity and less energy usage (transport), etc.  In terms of public advocacy of the perils of climate change, the most effective means of reaching out to the non-believers and uninformed are thru positive caring reinforcement, and not thru fear mongering.
  10. Academe from BED and SHS has integrated climate change in its curricula, but much needs to be done in terms of effective, sustainable monitoring if the intended learning outcomes of genuine appreciation by the students’ mastery of climate crisis are achieved.
  11. A process-based critical thinking and creativity in coming up with practicable solutions in addressing climate change are important skills that must be deeply ingrained among the youth, as the educators need to be extra vigilant in developing teaching and learning activities (TLAs) that integrate values formation, aside from knowledge gained.
  12. Climate change/crisis pedagogy is not limited to STEM, but also non-science courses. Efforts have to be made in integrating these in whatever means possible. There is need for transdisciplinary approach in studying climate change (which also has political and economic implications). (UN SDG 4 Quality Education and 13 Climate Action) 
  13. Climate change mitigation and adaptation should be deeply integrated in the curricula in college courses, not limited to architecture and engineering courses.
  14. Sharing of best practices among educators on climate change curricula is really helpful, as this has a ripple effect.
  15. It is best to let the common people understand the perils of climate change if left unaddressed, and educate them on how they can contribute in their own little way.
  16. Our current lifestyle is consumerist-driven. The significant improvement in any detrimental impact  of human activities can start from the common people, thru the LGUs in a bottoms-up approach, thru the use of circular economy. Involve everyone in the process.
  17. Circular economy – longer life cycle of all materials that were used leads to lesser waste and minimized negative environmental impacts. Eco-entrepreneurship is a promising business model.
  18. Our aspirations in life need to be recalibrated (avoiding “buy and buy” and/or “more is better” mindsets), as recalibration will lead to a more sustainable stewardship of our limited resources.
  19. Social media is the most powerful tool in educating the mainstream. The youth is its biggest market as they are the future end-users of our limited resources
  20. Regenerative architecture (2003-???)  is an improvement of sustainable architecture (1977-2030)  and solar architecture (1970-1985) 
  21. Sustainable Design fell short in addressing ecological issues, thus Regenerative Design emerged with the aim of “restoring the planet.” One addition is the aim of restoring or nursing back to health/improving biodiversity of existing natural habitat (Related concept: Landscape Replacement Ratio in Singapore)

SYNTHESIS

  1. Think and live simply
  2. Do not consume more than what we need. Make use more of easily renewable resources.
  3. Educate everyone simply, with practicality, with a heart and not just feeding the common people’s mind.  Everyone can be an environmental advocate and warrior.
  4. Each one of us has a role to play. Engage everyone, regardless of demographic background. Climate crisis/change is not exclusive domain of scientists.
  5. Use and maximize responsibly what nature provides us. Nurse it back to health, or if in stable condition, enrich its biodiversity. 
  6. Study the life-cycle of all resources and materials before deciding on which to use among them.
  7. Continuous dialogue on improving climate crisis curricula among different levels of academia (from BED, SHS to College level) should start soonest

SUMMARY/COMMON KEYPOINTS

  1. Drastic action needs to be done to educate, in simplest terms, every Filipino on the perils of climate change. The Filipinos’ “persevering” (resilient) attitude can be capitalized upon to instill a sense of responsibility to making our lifestyles and settlements contributory to reducing climate change impacts.
  2. The PRC and PAPRB took cognizance on the importance of SUSTAINABILITY, as reflected in the creation of specialization tracks for Board of Architecture.
  3. In order to effect sustainable change, our leaders from different fronts (academe, government, industry) – should come up with a strong, clear vision URGENTLY in order to let the common people feel their role in addressing climate crisis concretely and swiftly. This is lacking despite the fact we have all legal instruments in place (PDRRRM Act of 2009 (R.A. 10121), Phil. Green Building Code, among others)
  4. There is no standard climate crisis mitigation and adaptation measures across different geographical locations. Every location demands its own unique intervention.
  5. Behavioral change (lifestyle/aspirations),  responsible architectural and engineering designs, sustainable manufacturing processes, eco-entrepreneurship and  adequate knowledge of Life Cycle of materials and resources  make a big dent in minimizing climate crisis.
  6. The use of social media is the most potent tool in educating the general public about climate crisis, as this effectively reaches the youth – the future stewards of the planet.
  7. Educating the general public is more effective thru sending a positive message based on painful realities, rather than fear-mongering. 
  8. Built environment professionals should make sure to not only rehabilitate the existing site development’s attributes to an acceptable healthy natural habitat, rather, should further enrich its biodiversity profile.
  9. Addressing climate crisis is a SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, not just by scientists and built environment professionals. Each contribution, even though how small they are, can help a lot, when put together.
  10. The way we source, produce, consume and dispose our resources should observe green supply chain management means less reliance on imported goods/services – as these can serve as multiplier to economic growth.
  11. Always use nature (macro and micro) as integral and primordial part of architectural, engineering solutions in human settlements.  This is called as Green Infrastructure. Not as an afterthought.
  12. There is a need to balance economic development and environmental protection. This can be achieved through a sound integrative 360 degree, trans-disciplinary, multi-sectoral (PPP), participatory and science-based evaluation and planning processes, including even stakeholders with indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP).
  13. Health crises/pandemic are correlated with the way cities, settlements and public infrastructures are planned, thus this is the new dimension in green urban planning.  The current pandemic is zoonotic, which shows the competition for limited resources such as food resources  between the unintended interaction between wildlife specie and human sprawl scrambling for space and food, thereby enabling higher risk for virus spread.
  14. Speaking of health, it is the barometer of a success of any well planned city.  Health in terms of physical (clean water and air, walkable and comfortable circulation, varied transport choice access, etc.), social (amenity equity to rich and poor, social cohesion) and economic dimensions (increased land value, less hospitalization expenses ).
  15. Focus on outcomes and benefits, beyond the outputs/sustainability metrics in terms of any intervention which built environment professionals, planners and relevant stakeholders should focus on. 
  16. In everything we think, say and do, learn FIRST from nature how it behaves. (Ex. Need for more unpaved surfaces, USA over ISA)This will form the basis for our next course of action. We cannot impose human interventions unless we fully understand nature’s limits and potentials. The use of TECHNOLOGY should enhance what nature can provide us in a healthy and sustainable manner, without compromising a site’s CARRYING CAPACITY.
  17. We should act NOW in reducing CARBON consistently within this next ten years drastically in order to achieve net zero  by 2050 by being PROACTIVE.

TAKE-AWAYS/PLANS OF ACTION

  1. Organize a TRIPARTITE MEETING for academicians. Continuous dialogue on improving  and coordinating climate crisis curricula among different levels of academia (from CHED (College), DepEd (BED, SHS) ) should start soonest. 
  2. Develop arbitrary monitoring tools to accurately measure effective attainment of learning outcomes among learners with respect to mature appreciation (critical thinking skills/ problem-solving skills, a sense of purpose and leadership, etc.) of climate change and climate crises curricula.
  3. Ideating and developing “inspiring” tri-media posters/videos  focusing on the innate capability/potential of each individual to concretely address climate crisis.   Social media is the most potent tool to spur public into action where majority of its audience is the youth.  Values formation like “LESS is MORE, and SIMPLE is BETTER is reinforced in the middle of consumerist lifestyle. Guiding principle is CO-EXISTENCE.
  4. Lobby for Green Infrastructure Act which should be implemented by the government agencies (DPWH).
  5. Update the natural infrastructure inventory by mapping out water networks and open spaces, as backbone of sustainable renewal of human settlements, leading to healthier, walkable public amenities. This can be done by collaborating with LGUs.
  6. Make an inventory, enable, and monitor cooperatives/institutions which cater to  construction and demolition (C&D) and household wastes to strengthen a circular economy. This can be done in cooperation with appropriate government agency/ies.
  7. Institutionalize building material specification inventory via digital platform to give a more informed decision for designers.  This can be done in partnership with DTI.
  8. Possibility of developing a mobile app on measuring GHG based on daily activities (similar to Fitbit/smart watches)
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