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SM Baguio defends expansion plan

04/11/2012 [ tribune.net.ph ]

After sparking online anger on netizens and several environmental groups for its plan to cut and transfer 182 alnus and pine trees for its seven-story parking building, officials of SM Prime Holdings Inc., operator of SM Baguio, has defended its action, saying its expansion and redevelopment is certified by an internationally recognized standard for green building.

In a statement, SM City Baguio said it has started its expansion and redevelopment project to better serve its customers as the first mall in the North region designed to be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the internationally-recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the US Green Building Council.

SM reiterated its concern for the environment and that the building expansion shall be sustaining the environment, not only the trees, but the other environment aspects such as air quality and energy efficiency.

“Close consultations between SM’s technical, engineering, and design department and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as well as other environmental experts have preceded the earth balling of trees. This aims to ensure the high survival of the affected trees,” the mall said.

Aside from this, SM will be planting over 50,000 trees as part of its commitment to Baguio’s re-greening program.

SM City Baguio has started the procedure of replanting the trees that will be affected by its expansion, a spin-off from the top soil erosion concern of the mall for many years now that might eventually affect the structural integrity of the existing building.

Technical consultants exhausted all efforts to remedy the problem through ripraps and compaction but the problem persists.

“In order to permanently solve this, a retaining wall structure needs to be constructed to protect the building. This will entail excavation that will affect the trees in the area. SM is taking all measures to relocate them,” it said.

The project is a total environment friendly endeavor that goes beyond the trees, some of which are alnus and not pine trees, which will be relocated within the mall.

SM has also planted 6,000 pine saplings while another 20,000 are scheduled to be planted within the year at designated watersheds and another 30,000 trees in the next three years not only within Baguio but as far as Sto. Tomas and Mt. Pulag.

The expanded and renovated mall will be a seven-level open-air retail, dining and entertainment destination that will rely almost exclusively on natural ventilation for its generous public spaces and is envisioned to be a prime tourist destination in the city that will be a shining example of sustainability and environmental awareness.

“Aiming to remain as one — if not the best — of strategic spots in the city that offers a perfect view of the metropolis in the midst of nature, SM City Baguio pulled all stops to transfer the affected trees in the area. It recognizes that these contribute to clean air, are a vital part of the city’s environs, and a legacy for Baguio’s future children,” the mall operator said.

It added that the project is designed to receive a LEED Gold rating, which requires the implementation and documentation of achievement of a minimum of 60 of the listed points, which will be subject to the review and approval of the Green Building rating. Danessa O. Rivera

It aims to encourage the use of energy efficient public transport by adding an additional mall entrance along Governor Pack Road.

The mall will have almost 1,000 underground parking spaces. “By locating these spaces underground, the expansion’s impact on wooded surroundings will be reduced, as will undesirable ‘heat island effects’ often encountered in large shopping centers. Park finders using LED have been incorporated in its design for customers to easily locate parking spaces, thereby lessening fuel consumption’,” SM said.

The expanded mall will also have a lushly landscaped Roof Garden with delightful water features which t will be one of the expanded SM City Baguio’s attractions. This Roof Garden will use Green Roof Technology, which will create an environment for vegetation growth that is as close to the plant’s natural environment.

Energy conscious lighting consisting primarily of LED and Compact Flourescent Lamps, among the most efficient sources available will play a key role in the mall, whose interior spaces will generously allow daylight to penetrate deep into the common areas of the mall, greatly reducing the need for energy consuming artificial lighting.

Ceiling fans will be located throughout the public areas of SM City Baguio for the comfort of shoppers.

A Water Reservoir occupying 6.9 million liters of water will be located at the lowest level of the expansion building. This aims to alleviate the problem caused by heavy rains in the drainage system within the area.

“All these efforts will make the expanded SM City Baguio truly a green mall,” it concluded.
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