Climate-resilient public housing pushed

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The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is urging the government and the business community to tap into the potential of the construction sector to fight climate change by investing in affordable, sustainable and resilient housing and buildings.

CCC vice chair Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman said the construction industry is seen as the single easiest and most effective way for cities to make significant climate contributions.

"The building sector has an oversized environmental footprint. More than 30 percent of global GHG emissions are buildings-related, and emissions could double by 2050 if we carry on business as usual in a time of rapid urbanization and explosive demographics," De Guzman said in a speech during a climate change forum in Makati City recently.

De Guzman added the building sector and social housing can be transformed through its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), which seeks to cut by 70 percent the country's greenhouse gases emissions across major economic sectors.

He said the country will be able to reduce and ultimately phase out GHG emissions produced by the building sector by transforming the way buildings are designed, built and operated.

"The social sector housing needs to provide access to low-cost yet resilient homes to ensure security and safety for occupants. The design, construction and operation of today's houses and buildings need to incorporate and address concerns of adaptation to climate change," De Guzman said.

As a starting point, De Guzman said the government should revisit the country's 38-year-old National Shelter Program (NSP) to make it more responsive to climate change.

"It will be worthwhile for this forum to revisit the [NSP], a housing initiative undertaken by the national government as early as 1978—a very long time ago when climate change was not yet a global issue," De Guzman said.

NSP was created with the aim of increasing the housing stock for half of the nation's poorest population. The program called for the direct production of housing units by government and the provision of public funds to encourage the private sector to produce social housing developments.


"Let us have no doubt that NAMAs can work for us to overcome investment barriers. Above all, NAMAs can help bring us about the transformational change we badly need in our society as we strive—together with our global partners—to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Remember, we 'need 1.5 to stay alive and thrive'," he added.

De Guzman said the building sector offers one of the most cost-effective and economically beneficial paths for reducing energy demand and associated emissions while at the same time supporting adaptation and resilience to climate change.

"The economic, health and social benefits of sustainable buildings are significant. Buildings provide shelter, places to live, work, learn and socialize, directly affecting our daily lives," he explained.

"We recognize the importance of engaging the private business community in the housing development of the country. We are willing and eager to sit down with the building sector to find business sector to invest in low-income housing and other green building initiatives," De Guzman stressed.