People, nature can thrive together 


By Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:58:00 10/24/2008


IMAGINE living in a place where the Central Business District is as progressive as Makati, bordered by eco-friendly residential subdivisions, outlined by natural passages that are abundant with foliage and wildlife. It’s a kind of lifestyle wherein you will be walking or biking to work or school—refreshingly new for Filipinos. The houses are bathed in natural light and ventilation and the streets fringed with lush trees, their branches like natural canopies.

There is no wastage as everything, from water to trash, is recycled. Congestion, pollution and other banes of a developed community are unheard of.

Sounds like romantic Manila in the 19th century? This is 21st century township as envisioned by an environmentally-conscious developer Ayala Land for its landmark development.

NUVALI is the country’s first sustainable township development, committed to limiting the needed access of energy, water and food and its waste output. A sustainable township is a self-reliant community that leaves the least possible carbon footprint for its inhabitants. Here, inhabitants live harmoniously with the surrounding environment in terms of pollution and land use.

Live for today, protect for the future

“Sustainability” is the buzzword for this 1,700 hectare development, spanning the municipalities of Sta. Rosa and Calamba, Laguna. “We approach sustainability through three levels. Aside from economic, we integrate environmental management and community development because it’s the right thing to do. You build new places to live, but at the same time, give equal importance to the environment angle. Simply put, sustainability means you live for today, but you protect for the future,” explains Ayala Land sustainability consultant Macky Maceda.”

The salient feature in NUVALI will be the harmony between the developed and commercial areas and the virgin landscape. It’s like building a new business district without touching the surrounding tropical paradise. Through the collaboration between Ayala Land and the Yulo family, homes and establishments will be built, while the remaining wildlife area will be conserved. “NUVALI is special in terms of floral and fauna. It is such a big parcel of property in Canlubang, bordered with ravines and buffer areas. Over time, water has been passing through these areas which contribute to the rich growth of various trees. That is where the wildlife birds and their predators proliferate. An approximate 15 km wildlife corridor will be a nature preserve that allows animals, birds and insects to move freely,” says Maceda.

While commercial and residential areas are being erected, Ayala Land pays the same attention to the enrichment of the ecosystem. The wildlife corridor shall be planted with indigenous and fruit-bearing trees to provide food for the insects and birds which are part of the food web. “Our challenge is to conserve it through proper zoning and educating the future NUVALI residents that these are protected areas for conservation,” he says.

Maceda envisions an Ayala Land-led tree planting campaign, starting with organizations in NUVALI such as Xavier School and its surrounding neighborhood. Plans are afoot to encourage locators from Laguna Techno Park, of which Ayala Land is part owner, to plant trees in NUVALI.

“Habitat includes food, water, cover and space. NUVALI has space. Whereas, man-made feature such as a four-hectare lake is available, there are also natural rivers and streams. Trees come in to provide food and cover.”

The tree planting program should be seen as a lifelong commitment because with the tree-to-house ratio as one the environmental initiatives of NUVALI. As it is, the place is covered with Mango, Santol and other native species. In a 1.2 km ravine stretch, almost 20 species of birds were identified.

“We are zeroing on that patch as the NUVALI bird sanctuary. We have plans to have floral and fauna inventory under Haribon, get advice to conserve areas, and plant the kind of trees to attract the birds. The residents will be blessed with more chirping bird sounds, butterflies in the area, fireflies. This is part of our thrust in biodiversity and enhancement.”

Quality of life

On how ecological principles are applicable to land development, Maceda says the subdivisions are built close to the Central Business District, hence, reducing travel time and the carbon footprint.

“You can be proud of living in an area where there is water conservation and recycling. In hardware, NUVALI has a new feature—water reuse. We’ve built double-piping systems into subdivisions. Normally subdivisions have only one water system for the shower, faucet and toilet. With a double piping system, NUVALI has provided a line for the shower and sink and a gray water line for the toilets. You don’t need high-quality water to wash the car, irrigate lawn or flush the toilet. This comes from the water used in washing clothes or water that falls from the sink. Waste water goes to a central treatment system or STP which is a standard. The STP effluent water that comes from the treatment plant is not potable but it is clean to be used as gray water,” he says.

“If you buy a house and lot in Avida Settings, (a subdivision in an affordable price range with the home featuring green architecture), the units are oriented toward the sun to maximize sunlight so you use house lights less. The buildings capture wind flow. Breezy units are more comfortable that means you use less aircon. The project is taking the lead even in vertical projects. We have benchmarked ourselves on the US standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (an ecology-oriented building certification program run under the auspices of the U.S. Green Building Council which focuses on energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development, and water savings standard in green building design).”

The wildlife corridor borders the developed area whereas two rivers cross the property.

For NUVALI residents, this wildlife corridor will serve as an amenity. There will be hiking trails along the edges of the corridors and some bird watching towers. “If you bike or jog, you can stop and go to the watching tower and see a bird crossing.

There will also be an amenity that will educate people on nature in its pristine stage. You won’t find this in built-up areas in Metro Manila. This is the kind of environment we try to protect for the future,” says Maceda. Asked what intangible benefits of investing in this revolutionary real estate, he replies, “It would boil down to the overall quality of life in terms of NUVALI’s master plan.

Designed from the start, this future township will not be as congested. There will be pedestrian-friendly areas, bike networks, eco-friendly shuttle buses going to the villages and commercial districts. Hi-speed Internet is also accessible. Through our nature preservation programs, you can be sure the air will be clean. Through our water conservation and re-use programs, you can be sure that you are doing your part in preserving water resource for the future. It will be a very healthy community where waste is properly segregated. We are also looking into processing non-recyclable residual waste into usable products like hollow blocks. All in all, you will not only see tangible benefits such as reduced bills, the main intangible benefit is contributing to a sustainable lifestyle for the sake of our children.”

Bike for life

For six years now, Jessica Eugenio, a broadcast coordinator, has been pedaling her way from her home on Washington Street to Campaigns and Grey on Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. With the high cost of fuel and the burgeoning traffic, biking is the way to go.

When she was a student, she would bike her way to school. Eugenio saw the possibility of using it as an alternative mode of transport when she saw an officemate with a bike.

At first, she was afraid of being sideswept by speeding jeeps and buses. She realized that as a long as she stayed on the right lane, she felt safe. She parks the bike at the office basement, brings a few sets of clothes and takes a shower in the office.

On the street, drivers and passersby are in awe of seeing the 39-year-old career woman on two wheels. The policemen check if she’s safe. “I feel exhilarated especially in traffic, when the cars stop and I go ahead,” she says.

Eugenio is unfazed by the elements. When it rains, she dons her raincoat and helmet.

When she goes to the grocery, she just lugs a big basket and chains her bike near the parking space for motorcycles. On weekends, she brings her bike to follow the hilly trails in Montalban, Makiling and Baguio. Biking has been rewarding. She is oblivious to increases of gasoline or jeepney fares.

She saves at least P100 per day on cab fares. The only maintenance required is to oil the chains. Because of the savings, it’s easier for her to pay the rent.

With an estimated biking distance of 10 kilometers daily, Eugenio says she gets a good workout. “My officemates spend a lot for their gym. I get free exercise. I feel healthy before coming to work and I’ve never been sluggish. People are surprised that at my age I don’t have rheumatism. This is a lifestyle. I can’t go out without it. Biking is eco-friendly.

If more people biked, then there would be less pollution.”

In NUVALI, its 8 km long and 60 meter wide main spine road commonly known as the NUVALI Boulevard has six lanes for cars and two lanes for a dedicated mass transit system. It will also have dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes with canopy trees providing cool shade as you walk, jog or bike your way around your neighborhood or office. Imagine how the streets of NUVALI would be like if more people like Eugenio take the bike. No smoke belching, no traffic, just a lot of happy people who get their endorphins up as a result of biking.

Recycle, reuse for life

As a student, Adel Licos, would be very conscious of keeping the environment clean. She conscientiously threw trash in the garbage and segregated empty bottles that could be resold and aluminum cans that could be recycled into flower vases.

“When this concept became part of my job, I learned that you could make money out of wastes,” says Licos, Ayala Social Initiatives Manager, Ayala Foundation Inc. In 1996, the foundation initiated a Solid Waste Management program whereby establishments at the Ayala Center segregated the waste plastic materials for recycling.

The program eventually included Baranggay San Lorenzo and other merchants of the center. As garbage piled up, particularly in the Central Business District due to the closure of the San Mateo landfill, a law was decreed to meet this challenge. In 2001, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) required communities to find ways to minimize wastage by separating solid wastes and finding ways to recycle, reuse or turn into compost. Since then Ayala companies and its developments have taken initiatives in the further reduction of residual wastes.

As the zero waste and recycling advocacy became popular, Ayala Land saw it as strategic program for the business establishments. Some of the buildings gained from the sale of recyclables. They partnered with accredited junk shops to purchase the materials so that the storage room would not accumulate wastes over a long period of time.

As a result, Ayala Land-owned buildings reported a significant reduction of garbage. Ayala Tower One Building earns P18,000 a month selling scraps. The whole Central Business District has followed the example. “Communities say they have cleaner environment. No more mixed waste piles on open lots. Since advocacy of solid waste management, littering has stopped in the public areas.

“The law also prohibits the burning of wastes. This eliminates danger,” she adds. Licos says the waste management is something everyone can do at home by segregating them into four categories. Recyclables can be brought back to factories or reused. Biodegradables such as food leftovers can be used for animal feeds while yard waste can be transformed into compost. Residuals, such as plastic wrappers, are sent to landfills for disposal. Hazardous wastes such as paint cans, insecticide containers, bulbs are brought to treatment facilities.

Licos walks her talk at home. Empty shampoo bottles and juice cans go to the recyclable container which is gathered by junk buyers. Compost or food wastes are turned into pet food. Residuals are collected by the city garbage truck. “When you do proper waste segregation, residual waste will not emit foul odor. The household is cleaner and garbage won’t stink even if it is uncollected for one week, “she says.

The solid waste management program is a standard in NUVALI. “Proper segregation in households will be implemented, it will be accomplished through its partnership with accredited collectors for recyclables, compostables, residual and hazardous waste to ensure proper destination for each. NUVALI will have a material recovery facility, a compartmentalized structure which segregates recyclables apart from residual and compostables. They will have proper storage until collection time.

Earlier this year, NUVALI had started a quarterly recyclables fair as part of its waste management and segregation program to encourage and spread awareness to the neighboring communities around the area, giving them the opportunity to make money out of their trash.

Licos cites the benefits of solid waste management. “First, they will not contribute to environmental pollution. They contained the problem in the community and resolved potential problems by putting the residuals in the dumpsite. Second, it raises environmental awareness in the community.”

“You prolong natural resources when you implement waste management. It’s not the concrete benefits that I get. By managing and segregating my wastes properly, I’m not contributing to environmental degradation.”

This is her little way of practicing a sustainable lifestyle. “Sustainability means to extend the life of a resource. It’s not wasting anything to serve other’s people’s needs. It’s making use of the resources that will be used by others.”



Feel free to call me if you are interested to know more about Nuvali.


Coco Midel


0917 580 2013