'Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence' (BERDE) Program
Prof. Cleonico Y. Fontelo, Vice President for Finance and Administration
(Message delivered at the opening of the Philippine Green Building Council conference held March 12, 2013 at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium.)
It is my honor to welcome all of you to Silliman University, the country’s oldest American university founded on August 28, 1901. We are delighted that you have chosen Silliman as the venue for the roadshow of the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) Program of the Philippine Green Building Council.
You have come to a campus which for many years has taken pride on the natural environment within which it is located. On the east side of this auditorium is the Visayan sea; on the west is the Cuernos de Negros Mountains. These, plus the age-old acacia trees that surround the University – over 300 of them, remain our constant inspiration and reminder to achieve an ecological balance in our infrastructure development plan.
The growing demand in the construction industry nowadays has gone beyond design and functionality. More and more have become conscious of achieving a perfect blend of materials — like wood, concrete and steel — with the natural source that, like humans, also sprouts, breathes and exhales life: the environment.
This very hall is an architectural piece in itself, a testament to green standards of construction and engineering even of decades past. The design of the interiors of this Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium puts premium on energy efficiency, from electricity to sound – in a way that you don’t need so many microphones to throw your voice from this point to the control room behind you. On the side: this is touted as the most beautifully designed auditorium outside Manila, a gift of the Henry Luce Foundation of Time Magazine. It was when Henry Luce and wife, Claire Isabel, visited the campus in the 70s on board the private plane of then President Ferdinand Marcos that what was then a component of the cultural plan of the University saw its realization.
Indeed, the world today needs professionals of your expertise and caliber to look into how we can conserve and preserve what deteriorating resources we have, in order for our generations and those beyond ours to enjoy and make use of. Climate change is a phenomenon which affects all of us and are experiencing now. And while many still refuse to connect their practices and lifestyles to drastic changes in atmospheric conditions, we continue to feel the world shrink in the palm of our hands.
It is therefore fitting for a gathering of this nature and purpose to take place. We are proud of your presence, and draw hope from all of you in being able to live today not only for the sake of the present, but in consideration of what more lies ahead in the future.