Thoughts on 'Green Engineering'
Prof. Cleonico Y. Fontelo, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Without being so technical about it, “green engineering” simply means living your life with respect for the environment.
Gone are the days when because of low human population, resources were thought to be infinite. We are past that stage of industrial revolution where coal-based machineries and steel-intensive construction only had room for economic development. Space has run out for even the mere thought of justifying the value of human life at the expense of natural resources.
The international community recognizes the Philippines as having the most number of laws dedicated to environmental conservation and protection. That is not to say though that we have the most number of effective laws. As with most Third World or developing countries, ours is a case of poor implementation.
International development organizations, such as the World Bank, are pushing for investments to be made on green initiatives. This runs along efforts at encouraging cities across the globe to aim for “climate resiliency”. Simply put, climate resiliency is a locality’s ability to fend off a disaster and, in the event that it gets hit with it, to rise and facilitate efficient rehabilitation. Achieving climate resiliency requires a combination of adaptation measures – those that prevent the impact of a disaster– and mitigation measures – those that address the source or cause of a disaster.
It is in the process of conditioning communities to become climate-resilient that green engineering comes to play. Green engineering explores infrastructural designs that work around the natural features of its surroundings. It considers a mode of transportation that gradually does away with fossil fuels. It utilizes indigenous materials and reinforces the value of traditional designs. It invests in a science that optimizes functionality and design in harmony with the natural environment.
That is why most organizations are becoming “green”; their corporate social responsibility reeks of anything that has to do with either the tree or the ocean, or capacitating communities to develop eco-friendly livelihoods. And businesses have also gone green, not only in terms of their marketing and packaging, but in the very products and services that they offer.
In Metro Manila, companies pay close attention to building designs, providing wider ventilation and more open space for light to come in. There are plants in the offices, and plants even deck crannies and rooftops of condominiums. Some have employed sustainability managers just for the purpose of ensuring that there is an environmental advocacy component to their every construction project.
Solar energy has also grown its popularity. Photovoltaic batteries or solar panels are used to light households. Recently, the media featured the solar plastic bottle that provided light in its raw state to houses in the slum areas. A similar technology is also used to run cars.
Recycled materials are also the “in” thing nowadays. More go for them as accessories, office supplies or souvenir items, especially because they shout out an advocacy statement. Fast food joints and cafeterias are also starting to veer away from Styrofoam, and now considering more environment-friendly containers for both food and beverage.
These and many more paint a picture of the actual entrepreneurial promise of green engineering.
We live in a community where our market is growing more socially and environmentally aware. This is the same market whose spending is influenced not only by an individual choice but a collective desire for positive change.
Therefore, in order to thrive and survive, we need to adopt and adapt. And green engineering, alongside other similar initiatives, teaches us the way forward.
NOTE: “Leadership Reflections” shares views of the different members of the University Leadership Council on matters related to campus life and the operations of the University. As well, it features opinions on issues of national and/or international relevance.