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With the threat of climate change looming on the horizon and a growing population to sustain, the need to build more sustainable and resilient cities continues to rise.
SM Prime traces its journey on sustainable design and development way before the concept has gone mainstream. At the heart of the company is its commitment to serve its customers–designing its malls to bring better comfort and an enjoyable experience in every visit to SM Supermalls.
Built through several phases of development, Megamall, among SM’s 78 malls across the country, has grown into the complex it is today with 800 shops, including 250 dining outlets, and 16 anchor tenants. Customers explore the expanse of the 10-hectare development from its convenient parking grounds, relaxed atmosphere, and beautiful façade. Behind this is sophisticated engineering anchored on sustainable design and technology.
SM Megamall is energy and water-efficient. The building is enveloped with EIFS or Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems board, which boosts wall insulation, making it more resistant to heat. It only uses LED lighting system allowing a 50% energy saving. The mall also tracks a lighting operating schedule following the supply requirement of the mall activity and does not contribute to environmental lighting pollution so as not to disturb nocturnal animals. It also uses sensor-activated escalators that contribute to about 30% energy savings. Its air-handling system uses high-efficiency air-conditioning system that has greater environmental stewardship. It even uses efficient water fixtures for water savings and recycles water.
Works with the natural environment. The mall utilizes green walls, skylights, and clerestory or a high section wall that contains windows above eye level to increase the flow of natural light. It is surrounded by plants of local varieties and a selection of trees and shrubs.
Promotes mobility. Situated in the middle of EDSA, the mall brings 550 buses into one integrated system to promote easier mobility. Green hybrid transports provide options for the more environmentally conscious passengers. All public transports are required to meet mandated emission levels in support of the Clean Air Act. The mall is pedestrian-friendly with about 1,595 square meters of covered walkways. Throughout the mall, designated bike lanes and parking spaces are provided. Lastly, parking sensors not only make parking easier, but have also reduced emissions in the parking areas.
Practices responsible management of materials. The mall uses an Echostop ceiling finish for noise absorption, which is made from gypsum and paper liner made from 100% reclaimed and recycled paper. The Mega Tower uses insulated glass units, which keep heat out during summer months, and Low E-glass to minimize the amount of ultraviolet light that comes through the windows, with both features maximizing energy savings. It also has a Material Recovery Facility dividing recyclables, biodegradable waste, residual waste, and hazardous waste.
All these initiatives are aligned with SM Prime's environmental strategy of developing, designing, and building integrated lifestyle cities with sustainability and resiliency considerations in mind.
Echoing these efforts, SM Prime continues on its transition to clean energy. Aside from investing in energy-efficient programs, the company is broadening its renewable energy investments. SM Prime targets to increase its demand for electricity sourced from renewables by more than 50% across all of its business segments by end of 2022 in support of the Department of Energy's goal of moving the country's renewable energy supply component up to 35% by the end of the decade.
Moreover, as part of a growing movement of responsible and sustainability-centered enterprises, it has joined the 2,500 organizations worldwide in supporting the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and its goal of creating a more resilient financial system through better climate risk disclosures. Through this, it hopes to continue to drive its business to adopt more sustainability initiatives related to climate change.
At Hamilo Coast—SM property in Nasugbu, Batangas—it continues to uphold its commitment to sustainability and conservation as it planted 50,000 more mangroves, which covers 100,000 square meters of the estate. This is also touted as one of the largest mangrove areas in Nasugbu.
Hamilo Coast continues to protect its mangrove ecosystem together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, a partnership it has nurtured since 2007.
Hamilo Coast also undertook the initiative to declare three of its coves, namely Pico de Loro, Etayo, and Santelmo, as Marine Protected Areas in 2009.
SM is regreening the countryside through its tree-planting program led by SM City Baguio. This is in partnership with the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR), Baguio Water District, the local government of Baguio City, and 25 media organizations in Baguio.
As of January 2022, over 600,000 trees have already been planted in Baguio City and neighboring towns in Benguet.
The company further promotes sustainable practices through water recycling and the adoption of technologies that promote smart water use. In 2020, it was able to recycle 28.9 million cubic meters of water.
In terms of solid waste management, SM Prime has intensified its campaign by requiring all contractors to implement proper waste management procedures during construction. A long-running program through SM Cares, the monthly Trash to Cash (TTC) provides an avenue for the community, including properties’ tenants, to participate in solid waste management. This initiative ran for nine months in 74 malls and five SM Development Corporation properties in 2020, saving 134,067 seven-year-old trees to date.
It also undertakes paper recycling in partnership with the Trust International Paper Corporation and the responsible transport, treatment, storage, and disposal or processing of the properties’ generated hazardous waste, compliant to the government’s implementing rules and regulations.
Resiliency as a necessity
While the mall serves millions of customers every day, its impact goes beyond its business–touching the lives of millions more in the communities wherever it is present. For a country like the Philippines, the impact of climate change can already be felt with typhoons getting stronger and more frequent.
Hans T. Sy, chairman of the executive committee of SM Prime, has served in leadership roles in both national and international organizations focused on disaster resiliency and its impact on business and society.
Leading by example, SM integrates disaster resiliency in its business strategy as well as its city and mall designs and developments. This, not only allows its businesses to operate during calamities, instead, also helps communities become more resilient to typhoons.
“I believe in an age-old adage; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. SM Prime has taken deliberate steps to reinforce resiliency across its properties and provide a focused approach on sustainability in order to preserve communities and save lives,” said Sy.
Such is the impact created by SM Masinag.
Vermont Park Phase 1 is located near the mall. For years, it would undergo flooding during typhoons. However, the story has changed. Since the mall opened to serve the community, it has been equipped with a water catchment facility that can detain 17,681 cubic meters of water, which is equivalent to seven Olympic-size swimming pools. This helped control the flooding of nearby villages during typhoons.
Meanwhile, SM Marikina, which is also in a high-flood rate zone, is able to serve as a first responder and a safe haven to affected families during times of calamities. This is because it is standing on 246 stilts with an elevation higher than the highest recorded water level rise in Marikina City.
Sustainability and resiliency as strong foundations for responsible development
SM Prime anchors its development on both sustainability and disaster resiliency. For SM, both serve as strong foundations for responsible development–to address the increasing demand for urban areas and to address the threat of climate change.
From the onset of concept design, SM Prime allocates around 10% of capital expenditure to incorporate sustainability features and disaster resilience when building malls, offices, and even integrated lifestyle cities.
"The safety of the communities, employees, customers, and the facility structure remains top priorities in all SM Prime developments. As I tell my design teams ever so frequently, ensuring safety is the only way I can sleep well,” Sy said.
For SM, this means the hard infrastructure capacities, as well as how spaces are designed to facilitate mobility, green transport options, greener buildings, and even green technology such as being powered by solar energy. As such, wherever it operates, SM Prime makes every effort to help create the spaces and cities we need in order to sustain ourselves into the future.
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Editor’s Note: This article was provided by SM Supermalls.