Doing Well by Doing Good
The Philippines’ first eco-community redefines urban living by championing sustainability
Text by JACKY LYNNE A. OIGA
Photo by PINGGOT ZULUETA
Manila Bulletin, July 15, 2012
Can a mixed-use, large scale development be concerned with environmental and sustainable issues and still be profitable? For NUVALI, Ayala Land’s mixed-use development in Laguna, the answer is a reassuring yes.
Back in 2007, when Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) launched NUVALI – a 1,860 hectare development spanning the cities of Sta. Rosa and Calamba and the municipality of Cabuyao in Laguna – it was envisioned to be the Philippines’ first and largest eco-community development that will redefine urban living by championing sustainability.
At that time, many developers were anxious about the time constraint and higher costs of a green agenda. ALI, however, believed that with a well-executed sustainable project, it is possible to do well financially by doing the right thing environmentally.
Five years after, NUVALI is now a thriving eco-city — with a wide range of residential, retail, institutional, recreational and commercial offerings woven into green buffer areas, ravine parks, tree nurseries, green homes and sustainable infrastructure– that is continuously developing to be a regional growth hub not just in Laguna but in the entire CALABARZON area.
“For NUVALI, sustainable development does not necessarily mean reduced profits. When you really look after what’s good for the environment, you will be surprised that green, eco-friendly initiatives usually make good business sense and are actually beneficial to the over-all business in terms of sustainable business growth, savings in resources and money, while providing a better quality of living for everyone,” says Aniceto Bisnar, Jr., ALI VP and NUVALI SVP and general manager.
NUVALI aims to be the country’s landmark sustainable community, committed to a new way of living on three sustainable fronts: environmental, economic and social. This means that NUVALI will contain the elements that bring forth economic prosperity, while keeping check of social needs to foster true community building, all in an ecologically sound environment.
NUVALI’s environmental sustainability efforts started with a simple task: planting trees. “NUVALI was originally a part of the Canlubang sugar estate that was developed into various industrial parks, residential subdivisions and other uses. If you look at the vast expanse of the development, the area does not have many trees, it was just an open grass field. So when we started building the community, we, and many volunteers, planted 26,000 trees and we will be planting more than 100,000 trees in the coming years,” Bisnar shares.
Apart from planting trees, NUVALI’s many environmental features include: approximately 50-60 percent balance between built and open areas in residential subdivisions; use of energy efficient lighting fixtures, appliances, and equipment in NUVALI structures; efficient privately managed transit to reduce dependence on private vehicles; maintenance of tree to house ratio for better environmental air quality, reduction of soil erosion, and improved water retention; and a highly efficient water management system.
“The whole NUVALI will have a centralized sewage water treatment that will be managed ultimately by Manila Water Company. We will be partnering with them to ensure that our water sewage system will also be sustainable. The tendency of many developments is they over pump water from the underground, but with Manila Water coming in, ultimately our source of water will come from surface water. Our sewage treatment plant will also recycle water so that this can be utilized as grey water for watering of plants, washing the cars, etc.,” Bisnar says.
For our One Evotech office building and Evoliving Center developments, design and construction complied with the standards of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). NUVALI also developed model ‘green’ homes in its Avida Settings and Treveia developments.
“These green homes typically showcase how a residential lot owner can practice sustainability at home. The type of materials you use, the orientation of the sun, orientation of the windows, installation of energy saving lights and solar panels for alternative energy — there are a lot of things residents can do to lead a green lifestyle right in their own homes and we’re here to guide them through basic principles of environmental sustainability,” Bisnar shares.
A development twice the size of Makati City, NUVALI has the demographics, location and, most importantly, the scale to become a major economic activity and business district in the CALABARZON region.
“Sta. Rosa is one of the fastest growing areas in Laguna because of its proximity to Metro Manila. All the businesses are already within the area especially with the presence of the industrial zones and the infrastructure being created at this side of the greater Mega-Manila area,” Bisnar underscores.
Another significant economic and environmental feature of NUVALI is connectivity through road networks. The transport terminal located near Solenad 2 along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road, intends to link NUVALI to other town centers, regional hubs and Makati.
Modes for transport are buses, vans and jeeps. Travel times for buses are at 6:00a.m., 6:30a.m. for the NUVALI to Makati route, 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. for the Makati to NUVALI route. While jeeps for the Balibago-Sta. Rosa route travel all day. This external transport terminal will be complemented with a privately managed transit system within NUVALI to discourage the use of private vehicles to reduce carbon footprint.
“Our E-jeeps that will go around the NUVALI route will run on electricity to reduce carbon foot print. We’ll also be having several bicycle stations all over NUVALI, especially in our commercial areas, where people can just rent a bike to go from one place to another,” Bisnar says.
Also essential in the NUVALI master plan and design is community interaction — open spaces and recreational areas are accessible to all residents and guests to strike the live-work-relax-grow lifestyle balance. “Essentially, we’re trying to promote balanced living. We try our best to balance the needs of a family by providing opportunities for work, recreation and interaction within the community,” Bisnar relates.
To encourage an active lifestyle and healthy recreational activities for the whole family, NUVALI introduced non-intrusive, value enhancing adventure and leisure facilities like the Lake and Park System, Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, Evoliving Center, The Fields (Football, Baseball Fields and sand volleyball courts), Bike tracks and trails, Greens and Patches and the soon to open Republic WakePark for water sports enthusiasts.
Job generation and social investment are also integral to NUVALI’s social-environmental plan. “We are also cognizant of the communities around NUVALI and the impact that we have on them so we have a policy wherein a large number of our contractors’ employees need to be from the local communities. Since we opened, we provided over 2,000 jobs in our various projects. On the other hand, the newly opened Xavier School NUVALI is targeting to provide scholarship to 25 percent of its student population living in the neighboring communities.”
An eco-city that is still growing, NUVALI’s exciting projects in the pipeline include: Monochrome Events Place, an events space with an area of 3,500 square meters and a seating capacity of approximately 800 seats; Kukun Hotel, an urban lifestyle hotel that will have nine floors and an estimated number of 150 rooms with 129 standard rooms and 21 suites; and Miriam College, to be operational by June 2014 for pre-school, elementary and high school.
Essentially, NUVALI is a complete community. It is a harmony of productivity and sustainability where family, work and leisure are seamlessly integrated in a diverse vibrant landscape without neglecting its main intent of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable living.
As general manager, Bisnar and his NUVALI team make sure that everything works in the development. They oversee everything from planning, operations, construction, sales, marketing, down to handling customers. His team also makes sure that NUVALI increases shareholder value and the value of land overtime through proper management.
“It’s a challenging job. It’s like building and running another new city. It’s also a unique opportunity to make a difference and I enjoy the work because when you see communities growing, you have a great sense of accomplishment for the company — that ALI has created another successful community,” Bisnar says humbly.
Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary
A 17-kilometer long buffer green and forest zone throughout the NUVALI development, labeled as the Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, will be preserved and will remain untouched to allow the natural habitat to flourish within the area. A minimum of 100,000 trees will be planted within the sanctuary as part of NUVALI’s tree-planting program.