THE CLIMATE CHANGE Commission (CCC), along with the Budget and Energy departments, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to make government buildings more energy-efficient.
Under the agreement, the CCC will manage the greening of five buildings in the Malacañang complex, and the Department of Energy (DoE) will provide technical assistance and consultancy.
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management will handle the bidding process, and BPI will extend credit assistance for energy service companies that clinch the projects.
The energy efficiency initiative will be implemented this year, targeting the following: the Malacañan Palace, the Mabini Hall, the New Executive Building, the Presidential Management Staff Building and the DBM Building II.
“This initiative is the first and the most symbolic, since the government has never had an energy efficiency program, much less one that targets the seat of power in the Philippines,” CCC Vice-Chairperson Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering said during the MoU signing on Thursday.
In 2011 alone, the government spent P10 billion for the water and electricity costs of its buildings. But with energy-efficient technology and fixtures, the government could slash as much as a third of those expenses, she explained.
The project could be even more relevant now, she added, as the Aquino administration grapples with an energy crisis in Mindanao and works to put up more power plants to meet the market demand.
The DoE currently has its own energy efficiency initiatives, and work has already been made on several public parks last year. However, Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia M. Asirit noted that the private sector has been reluctant to participate in similar projects, given the limitations in financing.
“The important innovation in this agreement is that BPI can provide credit to energy-saving companies,” Ms. Asirit said.
BPI, for its part, has an ongoing partnership with the International Finance Corp. (IFC) to help it fund climate change mitigation projects.
The Sustainable Energy Finance program, which began in 2008, lets BPI finance energy efficiency projects, aided by the technical studies and guarantees provided by the IFC.
“To date, we have already released some P5 billion for such projects.
We are looking at another P3 billion in the next three years,” BPI Executive Vice-President Alfonso L. Salcedo, Jr. said at the sidelines of the MoU signing.
“Green banking is an area we want to continue to explore... It is a major help for our clients, the environment and for the country,” he added.
Moving forward, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad hopes to expand the energy efficiency initiative to cover more government buildings.
“We intend to cover all national government offices and, eventually, state colleges and universities. And we want to do this is in the soonest possible time,” he said.
If it doesn’t entail a significant outlay, the government could simultaneously fund the greening projects with the private sector, he offered.
by Diane Claire J. Jiao
June 02, 2012