As the current global population reaches 7.35 billion (estimated by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), the overall demand for natural resources is projected to almost double. This means, soon we will spiral in a world confronting energy, food, and water shortage. In fact, for some countries, this traumatic situation has already become a reality!
To overcome this challenge, modern builders are attempting to tap on the potential of eco-friendly construction techniques – “Green buildings”. Touted as the latest buzz in the construction industry, sustainable buildings represent ecologically responsible structures emulating the conditions of entire natural system. Its optimal design ensures adroit use of resources like land, energy, and water.
Why Believe in Green Hype?
Changing environmental awareness has placed green sustainable architecture at the forefront. Keeping in pace with the high-performance innovative projects, builders are leveraging this approach to create supporting infrastructures that:
- restrain the use of non-renewable resources,
- minimize harmful impact on environment, and
- offer healthier environment to inhabitants
Besides, schematic designs are considered as the foundation of the viable ecosystem. The concept is gaining momentum owing to its undeniable impacts on the contractors, builders, and residents. Some of its benefits include:
Building Blocks of Sustainable Architecture
Moving towards sustainable environment commands five major components that seamlessly connect diverse environments:
(1) Eco-friendly Building Design: disparaging sprawl of valuable green space and encouraging higher urban development.
(2) Water Conservation: emphasizing pre-development of hydrological systems on the site to maximize water recycling via harvested storm water, rainwater, etc.
(3) Energy Preservation: minimizing adverse influence on the environment through optimized building design, energy conservation techniques, and astute material selection.
(4) Quality of Indoor Environment: providing healthy and productive building design for occupants with the best indoor ventilation, effective air quality, and superior thermal comfort.
(5) Efficient Engineering: curtailing the consumption of non-renewable materials, viz., water and energy, by efficiently planning and designing building structure.
Green Building Market: A Global Snapshot
In view of the macro variations in global environment, green building elements facilitate readers to correctly identify the ongoing market trends in the industry. Depending on the shifting industry dynamics, this section provides broader outlook of green building materials market worldwide.
The last decade has witnessed a universal upsurge in sustainable building materials. This is propelled by two major factors:
- Development of construction industry, and
- Government initiatives supporting sustainable environment
With the above mentioned supporting elements, quick implementation of green technology has been majorly observed in the healthcare segment. Looking at the country-wise adoption, U.S. and Europe are apparently leading the market. Even though Asia Pacific (APAC) region is currently in the nascent stage only, countries like Malaysia are proactively formulating policies to promote and execute sustainable building architecture. As a result, a quick upsurge in the demand for eco-friendly building materials has been observed in residential constructions as well as commercial & office structures.
In fact, lucrative tax benefits presented by the Malaysian government are strengthening the demand for green infrastructure by manifold times. Since the materials used in construction of these buildings are mainly recycled resources from construction/ industrial waste, developers are continuously encouraged to invest in the green commercial buildings.
Malaysia Green Building Index (GBI) Conundrum
The constant evolution of South East Asian economies over the years has accelerated urbanization,
Besides, the nation is now moving towards a low carbon economy to promote sustainable development. In its recent economic plan, the country has projected to achieve a 35% drop in overall intensity of greenhouse gas by 2020 from the year 2005.
Demonstrating the commitment to realise energy security and climate change, it is anticipated that green building projects in Malaysia are likely to witness a fundamental shift between years 2016 and 2020. Consequently, the green growth projects are expected to expedite economy’s shift towards strengthening natural resources – mainly, food, water, and energy security – while minimising pollution. This biodiversity will be further complemented by the nation’s regulatory framework to foster climate resilience against critical natural disasters.
Thinking Green: Need of the hour?
Analogous to the government policies, developers in Malaysia are also embracing the importance of sustainable development. In the last five years, they have optimistically stepped forward to fine tune the fundamental design of their buildings as an endeavour to safeguard environment from precarious exposures.
However, amidst the rising popularity of go-green notion, an ongoing debate associated with its overestimated costs is condescending builders to downrightly implement this technology. Recent reports have revealed that the perceived high costs of sustainable urban infrastructure overrides the environmental insinuations. More accurately, the study suggests that green design majorly supports savings from utility costs and building maintenance. This makes sustainable development relatively expensive. Listed below are some of the major obstacles in the implementation of green infrastructure:
- Additional costs associated with procurement of building materials
- Efforts and time required for exploring appropriate materials
- Cost of training workforce
- Certification process and fees
From above observations, green building may essentially appear as an irrational decision. However, scholars believe sustainable development presents enormous benefits to developers in the future as buyers would demand a holistic experience of residing in a comfortable dwelling posing zero qualms on environment.
In addition, architects in Malaysia confer that the green technology merely adds-up a small volume to the overall building costs and hence the innovation largely outweighs operating costs in the longer run while slashing down the overall lifecycle costs. This component might score-up rental rates by nearly 5% while expanding returns on investment and property value by 8% and 10% respectively.
As Malaysia Green Buildings Industry has received significant attention from public and private sectors, government agencies, and other stakeholders, it highlights the importance of roping in green renewable energy for attaining voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases.
Contending with the rising community concerns on climate change, environmental pollution, and its negative impact on human life, the Malaysian government introduced National Green Technology Policy in 2009 to exterminate key obstacles in sustainable development while presenting dwellers with a wide range of benefits. In addition, as a key element of nation’s economic growth plan, the project advances various financial subsidies and incentives, tax rebates, and increasing public awareness.
From the preceding discussion, it is adequate to assert that green project initiatives are here to stay!
(Written by: Varsha Bhagchandani, 20th November 2015)