NEO’s real estate portfolio is the first in the world to be certified with the International Finance Corporation’s EDGE Zero Carbon certification.The retrofit plans for the seven office buildings were verified by EDGE partner SGS-Sintali in October 2021, well ahead of the company’s original goal of net zero by 2030. By becoming a Zero Carbon Champion, NEO hopes to inspire property owners and managers around the world to commit to Net Zero especially for existing buildings. As a climate catastrophe looms, vulnerable countries like the Philippines need to ramp up efforts across key sectors such as real estate where certifications for green buildings and Net Zero are powerful and impactful strategies. One stellar example is EDGE or the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies.
An innovation of IFC, EDGE is a green building standard, rating system and free online platform designed for emerging markets. The EDGE Zero Carbon Retrofit Protocol was developed to provide a pathway to achieve zero carbon for existing buildings. For green retrofit projects to be certified under this new protocol, companies must verify that their retrofit design meets the minimum 40% operational energy efficiency improvements, as well as prove that the operational energy from the previous year is from renewable sources and/or carbon offsets. Once the retrofit is completed within a three-year period, the project will undergo final certification.
NEO’s buildings are projected to have from 41-49 percent energy savings with energy sources procured from the ‘Cleanergy’ portfolio of Aboitiz Power Corporation. Aside from their contribution to climate change mitigation, these green and zero carbon buildings positively impact NEO’s #theNEOway community. Companies and tenants can now be assured that they are working in buildings that promote and protect both human and planetary health.
Green retrofits will play an increasingly important role in achieving global climate goals; they also represent a sizable investment opportunity in emerging markets. According to Vivek Pathak, Director and Global Head of Climate Business at IFC, “NEO’s achievement sets a precedent. Developers with existing buildings should raise their climate ambitions toward improving returns for their investors and increasing the value of their assets while generating positive outcomes for the environment.”
“We desperately need our businesses to become Net Zero in order to avert a climate catastrophe. By publicly committing to Net Zero then being the first portfolio in the world to achieve EDGE Zero Carbon Certification, we have proven that it is possible even for existing buildings in markets like the Philippines. Regardless of your size, industry, or country – what matters most is that we start on our Net Zero journey as soon as possible,” added Raymond Rufino, CEO of NEO.
For Rufino, achieving such certifications is not only a matter of business choice, but rather a response to further protect the interest of the community, especially the youth and future generations who will be affected by our current decisions.
Sustainability has always been at the core of NEO’s business.For the past years, all buildings have achieved 5-star certified green buildings under BERDE and have been awarded by the Philippines’ Department of Energy (DOE) with Energy Efficiency Awards.
In 2020, NEO aligned with the goal of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Greenprint Center for Building Performance to reduce the operational carbon emissions of its members’ collective buildings to net zero by the year 2050. In early 2021, NEO also signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment of the World Green Building Council and then achieved net zero certification for three of its buildings, One/NEO, Four/NEO and Six/NEO, as the pilot projects of the Philippine Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero Philippines program. The remaining buildings of the NEO portfolio are also slated for certification under the program.
“Net zero is far from simple, but it’s realistic and possible. Across any industry, it is important to look at the overall impact of emissions before taking any steps forward. Net zero pledges are achievable by accompanying them with deep management commitment and strategic policy structures. Our existing buildings were not initially designed to be net zero but we were able to achieve the goal for all 7 buildings. If we at NEO can do this, I’m sure all our fellow owners, developers, and managers can also make the commitment and reach net zero“ added Gie Garcia, Managing Director of Property Management, NEO.