Investing in Carbon-Neutral Luxury in the Philippines

The Cacao Pearl, located in Palawan, Philippines, is designed to become the world’s first non-profit and luxury eco-resort community to commit 100 percent of operating profits to environmental protection and social improvements. It is a low-density boutique resort being built in accordance with sustainable development principles, with 60 condominiums achieving zero carbon cost. Units range from $210,000 to $250,000.Joel Cere, CEO, Barefoot Investments, talks to MHN Associate Editor Erika Schnitzer about the company’s initiatives and objectives, as well as the development’s green features.Type of project: 60 exclusive eco-friendly villas on a private tropical island. Most investors are looking at the opportunity as a buy-to-rent. The island is 124 acres, and there are two types of villas available:•    The Vega Residence: 0.2- to 0.6-acre parcel, 860 to 4,300 sq. ft. interiors.•    The Sinan Residence: 0.2- to 0.4-acre parcel, 860 to 1,720 sq. ft. interiors.Project Team: Barefoot Investments Asia LLC is financing the entirety of the project. Abode Management, a specialist in design and management of sustainable development, will develop the resort, and Antonio Calvo, a former art director for movies, is designing the residences. Cacao Resorts will manage and promote the development.MHN: Describe the development’s green features and any innovative materials or construction methods.Cere: We calculate the carbon cost of everything we do and then reduce it to zero. We employ local craftsmen and local materials from sustainable sources. We use 100 percent renewable energy and sustainable development methods. We develop less than 20 percent of the island and seek to enhance its natural beauty, while providing a purpose for the property in our modern world (i.e., minimal vegetation clearing, structures built around trees and boulders).We also use our own “greenprint” for development and operation. It has started receiving attention from a number of certification providers, such as What Green Home—which provides reviews of eco-friendly homes in 28 countries worldwide—where our planned development was awarded five green ticks (denoting an “Excellent kitemark,” which denotes developments that the organization feels are worthy of recognition). Key facts about the development include:•    We aim for 100 percent renewable energy to power our resort community, using a combination of solar, wind, hydro and bio-fuel. •    We use 100 percent of the resort’s net operating profits to fund independent environmental protection and social improvement programs. •    We consider our impact and our access to pristine sites during development.•    We have a comprehensive waste management policy that seeks to achieve zero net consumption. •    We minimize our use of chemicals and will endeavor to omit them completely where possible. •    We use our purchasing power as a change agent for improvement in the practice of our suppliers. •    We make a positive contribution to biodiversity and nature conservation. •    We aim for a consistently positive contribution to community development. •    We monitor and address social issues in the workplace. MHN: What were your aesthetic and functional design objectives?Cere: Unique chic eco-residences designed by former motion picture art director, AntonioCalvo (Love Actually, Alexander, Pride & Prejudice). We wanted them to be exotic yet authentic eco-aware design. The development aims to have minimal impact on its environment. MHN: What is the development’s target demographic?Cere: Grown-up backpackers, travelers with a conscience, sophisticated urban escapees and regional buyers looking for an affordable private-island getaway. Priority is given to buyers with more than just a financial interest in the adventure.  We want investors who value our social and environmental return-on-investment. MHN: What design features make this project stand apart from others in the market?Cere: The mix of traditional materials, natural environment and modern, elegant design—that is not of place in Manhattan, Milan or London—will make the resort stand out. It is a guilt-free investment while being aesthetically pleasing to discerning travelers.MHN: Is there anything else you¹d like to add?Cere: 100 percent of the resort net operating profits will be used to support environmental protection and social improvement initiatives. This will be done through contribution to local marine reserves and environmental programs and also through setting up a monetary fund to sponsor local social and economical programs, such as micro-credits, educational bursaries or infrastructure projects