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How a city in the Philippines is using incentives to go green

19 June 2023

The mayor of Makati, keynote speaker at the Brunel Southeast Asia Lecture, shares how she is encouraging more sustainable building practices.

How a city in the Philippines is using incentives to go green
Makati City recently declared a climate emergency. Image credit: iStock

Makati City is the Philippines' premier business centre.

It’s a business hub with over 600,000 residents and a daytime population of over 4.5 million, including workers, employers, and clients.

It is also at the forefront of the development and implementation of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy and conservation, and create green jobs.

On 5 August 2022, the city declared a climate emergency.

It called for more reforms to address climate change.

The declaration was a call for attention to an impending crisis, placing climate urgency at the centre of all city policy and decision-making.

My declaration is aimed to accelerate, on all fronts, the transition towards green policies and initiatives that will strengthen the city’s adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change, while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

Building a sustainable city

Currently, Makati has 1,106 low-rise buildings, 551 medium-rise buildings, and 200 high-rise buildings.

Some 27 ongoing high-rise projects are being closely monitored by the Office of the City Building Official for compliance with green building standards and other relevant laws.

We also have a total of 16 LEED-certified buildings and 28 LEED-registered buildings (LEED is a certification recognising sustainability).

How Makati City is using incentives to encourage more sustainable building practices

We are formulating the Makati Green Building Code to fast track the adoption of green building practices that will increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint.

Our proposed green building code includes a special feature where we offer rewards and incentives to owners and developers that adhere to the regulations outlined in the code.

These incentives shall be in the form of the following:

  • Property owners who install renewable energy systems, use water-saving appliances, and incorporate other energy-saving measures could receive a reduced property tax rate.
  • Bonus density is an approach that can be used to increase the floor area ratio (FAR) of a development. This method increases FAR by rewarding the developer with an additional floor area for providing a public benefit. For example, when a developer provides affordable housing or green space, they may receive additional FAR, allowing them to build a larger development than normally allowed by zoning regulations.
  • Marketing support and incentives for particular types of greener solutions.
  • The Makati City Green Building Award is to be granted annually by the city.

How Makati is getting greener

We have partnered with the private sector to prioritise the creation of elevated walkways and underground crossings in our effort to pedestrianise the area.

Currently, Makati is a city where walking is convenient, and has numerous green areas.

It's home to over 44,000 trees and 40 parks, providing respite for its inhabitants and employees from the buildings filling the cityscape.

My administration encourages the adoption of green technology and vertical greening in both private and public buildings.

Green walls, vertical gardening, and rooftop gardening are already being implemented in public schools, barangay [the smallest local government unit in the Philippines] halls, and City Hall.

Certified green

As part of our risk-sensitive Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance, we provide development incentives such as additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and flexibility in land use to those who agree to our terms.

Our Zoning Ordinance offers development incentives to buildings that are certified as green by a third-party organisation such as LEED, BERDE, and EDGE.

These incentives are granted through the Innovative Techniques or Design Approach and Bonus Incentives Approach, as outlined in Sections 41.4e and 46.5.

Currently, 11 private developments have received these incentives from the city.

Our aim is to create a cityscape featuring recognisable locations that are resilient to extreme weather conditions, like severe storms or high temperatures.

A legacy of sustainability

Through a public-private partnership, construction is now ongoing on the Makati Subway, the country’s first intra-city railway system.

According to feasibility studies, the subway will lead to 270,000 fewer cars in the streets of Makati in around 20 years from start of operations.

This will roughly translate to a reduction of 2.3 million tons of CO2 annually in greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve also signed an agreement with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to establish a smart public transport system.

The project aims to achieve several goals, including:

  • Developing a master plan for public transportation.
  • Installing an information and communications technology system for public transport.
  • Launching a pilot program for electric buses.
  • Setting up a depot for these buses.
  • Training officials and personnel.

The project will receive funding of $13 million from our partner and is expected to be up and running a few years from now.

Makati City has already made great strides towards becoming a green city.

I’m proud of the policies and regulations our city has implemented, our partnership with the private sector, and our initiatives for creating a legacy of sustainability that will benefit generations to come.

Find out more

We need thinkers, doers and movers in combating climate change.

The global engineering community is uniquely positioned to help buildadvance infrastructure that is suitable for a changing planet, and that meets the needs of future generations.

Civil engineers, in particular, have a crucial role in this effort, especially in developing countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as those in Southeast Asia.

Advancing equitable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure are core objectives of the ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure programme.

It's time for civil engineers to use their knowledge, creativity, and imagination to develop solutions that can help create a brighter future.

Together, let us build equitable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure fit for people and the planet.

To hear more from Mayor Binay, sign up for the Southeast Asia lecture in the 14th Brunel International Lecture Series on 5 July 2023.

  • Abby Binay, mayor at Makati City