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Jacques Dupasquier and Carlos Rufino stood in front of hectares of undeveloped land in Taguig.

People, Planet, Profit

Jacques Dupasquier and Carlos Rufino stood in front of hectares of undeveloped land in Taguig. Where others saw patches of dried grass and dirt mounds, the two saw something different.

Published December 2, 2017

Jacques Dupasquier and Carlos Rufino stood in front of hectares of undeveloped land in Taguig. Where others saw patches of dried grass and dirt mounds, the two saw something different.

They saw an opportunity to create the future.

This was back in the ‘90s, when Taguig was still known for large plains that had literally nothing. Families would come here for a quick getaway. Parents would set up picnic blankets, while the kids flew kites. Others would ride their longboards or skateboards down empty stretches of roads.

But, Dupasquier and Rufino were convinced that Taguig had the potential to be just as great – if not better.

They saw it as the proving grounds for their “boutique office concept”, which borrowed closely from Dupasquier’s experience owning a string of hotels in Europe.

“Our idea was to offer a unique concept, a boutique office building where you can go every day, (where) you are cared for, (where) people know you by name, and the service is ultra-personalized,” says Dupasquier, a Filipino-French.

The team broke conventions and soon broke ground, as they built their high-rise boutique office, Net One Center.

Years later, that part of Taguig has been transformed into BGC, which is gradually emerging as the Philippines’ next Central Business District.

They loved the success of their Net One building so much that they decided to build not one, but four more boutique offices over the years: Net Square, Net Cube, Net Quad, and Net Plaza. They did all these under The Net Group, which was just starting out back then. Today, it is now considered the leader in “premier office development in BGC”.

Their work also ushered in other companies and developers, who helped transform BGC into the modern hub it is today.

Ramon Rufino also saw a vision of the future, much like his father Carlos.

It came to him in 2006, when he had returned to the Philippines after completing his Masters in Real Estate at Columbia University.

“My father [Carlos] pulled me to the side and asked me what I wanted to bring back from my studies in the U.S.,” says Rufino, who is now the co-president of The Net Group. I told him: ‘Papa, for me, it’s green architecture and sustainability.’ ”

Rufino envisioned that the next projects of The Net Group will be eco-friendly and sustainable.

“In the U.S., it’s not just about successfully finishing a project; you have to also measure its impact on the community,” says Rufino. “Is it going to be sustainable? Can you execute it without making too big an impact on the environment?”

“Remember, your project is not just for today’s generation. It’s going to be for the future,” he added.

Rufino talked to his father and his business partner, Dupasquier. He asked them if they would consider green architecture as a cornerstone of their business. Fortunately, they agreed.

At the time, green architecture was the farthest thing from developers’ minds. People were more concerned with finishing a project on-time, on-quality, and on-budget.

So, in order for the green initiative to stick, Rufino knew that he needed help.

He gathered several like-minded folks from some of the country’s top developers and set up the Philippine Green Building Council. Its mission was to push for green architecture and sustainability as a major part of development in the Philippines.

But first, they needed to establish what the guiding principles actually were for going green.

“We created the BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) Rating system which [compared to GREENSTAR or LEED] is more localized to the Philippine context.”

“BERDE is sensitive to our local climate, our regulations, and our laws.”

Possessing the same pioneering spirit as his father, Rufino wanted to pilot BERDE in The Net Group’s next building: Net Lima. It was supposed to be the first green building in the country.

Not an easy task, Rufino confessed.

“Net Lima was already under construction when BERDE came out,” he says. “We designed it as green but not wholly BERDE certified, so there were a lot of tweaks and additions.”

Despite that, Net Lima received 4 out of 5 stars in the BERDE Green Building Certification. Rufino is hoping that Net Park, their 7th and latest building, will get full marks.

They pulled out all the stops and made the building as eco-friendly as possible. Rainwater is harvested for cleaning. Natural lighting is utilized to the fullest. Triple shades cover the windows, serving as insulators that keep the heat out (and the air conditioning bill lower). Abundant rooftop gardens encourage employees to take a refreshing break. And one provision worth noting is an electric vehicle charging station in their Net Lima property.

“We also want to get our other buildings certified as “green”, at least in how we operate them,” says Rufino.

For the existing buildings (Net Cube, Net One, Net Quad, Net Square and Net Plaza) they will have to tweak their energy consumption, carbon footprint, and their supplies, ensuring that what they use is eco-friendly.

If all goes well, by 2018, The Net Group will be the first developer in the country with all of their buildings 100% BERDE certified.

For his part, Rufino believes that for green initiatives to truly work, it has to be approached holistically.

“We are the first developer to commit that we will buy all our power from renewable energy,” he says. The Net Group has a purchase power agreement with Aboitiz Power, where 100 percent of the power it uses for its buildings is sourced from renewable energy, such as those from geothermal plants.

“These are just some of the initiatives we are doing to promote a green push,” says Rufino. “We believe in the triple bottomline of People, Planet and Profit,” he says. “So when we do our work, it’s not just for the sake of being financially successful. We want to do projects that are good for us, good for the community, and good for the people who come into our building.”

With their passion for sustainable architecture, The Net Group is bringing us closer to a better future – one green building at a time.

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