Malaysia Property News is a free resource website sharing Daily Property News & information about Property in Malaysia, which related to, Property Market, Property Investment, Commercial Property , Hot Properties Malaysia, Real Estate, Retail Shop, Business Park, Condominium Malaysia, Terraces & Apartment Malaysia, Houses, Residence, Resort and many more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The environmental protection racket

Can I be the only person who finds the whole topic of global warming to be incredibly boring? I try to avoid reading newspaper articles on the subject, which to me, is just as mind numbing as American politics, trouble in Northern Ireland or football.

My ideal newspaper would devote the front page to humiliating drivers who turn left without signalling. Then I’d like to see a daily two-page spread on the public flogging of taxi drivers who don’t use their meters, and 15 pages of business news followed by three pages of Dilbert. Advertisements for water filters and groceries would be actively discouraged. In fact, I’d have every advertisement vetted by the principal of Victoria Institute or St Johns or any similar establishment that still valued grammar.

The newsprint would have to be soft of course because I would want to recycle it by ermm... feeding it to my hamster. According to a recent book Time to Eat Your Dog; the Real Guide to Sustainable Living, two hamsters have the carbon footprint of a plasma TV. Arguably, even one hamster has more entertainment value than Malaysian TV, but this may not be a popular opinion.

I happen to like warm weather and refuse to be spooked by global warming until polar ice melt is lapping round my ankles and the wife and hamster have fled to the safety of Genting Highlands.

Nevertheless, even I was happy to see that Budget 2010 was the first to give priority to the procurement of goods and services that are environment-friendly. The same budget announced a fund of no less than RM1.5bil to be given as soft loans to companies that supply and utilise green technology.

The development industry has responded rapidly to the call for more environmental-friendly buildings. New residential condominiums to be certified include Ken Bangsar, Sunway Palazzio and Sunway Challis Damansara. In the commercial arena, the new Malaysian headquarters of Shell, 348 Sentral, will also be certified when completed in 2012.

Perhaps the biggest news this year is the completion and launch of Malaysia’s own Green Building Index (GBI), modelled on those developed internationally such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assesment Method).

The product of collaboration between Malaysia’s architectural and engineering professions, the GBI has been customised for local use and will undoubtedly become the certification of choice for the industry.

My personal view is that it is extremely comprehensive but could possibly have benefited from consultation with a wider spectrum of professionals in the industry.

For example, while points are awarded for not building on wetlands or virgin forest, the demolition and redevelopment of buildings and sites with heritage value is apparently quite acceptable, because there is no mention of them. I would also argue with the points awarded for not providing in excess of the legal minimum number of car parking spaces.

Many buildings, especially retail complexes, provide in excess of the minimum because shoppers want them. Providing the bare minimum can create inconvenience to users, and also hasten obsolescence which in turn leads to a waste of resources.

However, in my opinion the biggest omission of the BGI is in the area of design efficiency. The development industry pays great attention to the ratio of gross building area to net usable space. The ratio achieved in a building reflects the skill of the architect. This is not an attempt to stinge on facilities, but to deliver the same building at a lower cost.

A building may require 180,000 sq ft of gross area to provide 100,000 sq ft of usable space, while another design may require only 140,000 sq ft. The BGI has copious provision for heat insulation and power consumption factors and all the rest. But inefficiency of design can lead to massive wastage of materials, higher operating costs, and under-utilisation of resources.

One of the three key elements of sustainability is after all, viability, which is always enhanced by an efficient design. Would anyone in the architectural profession care to comment?

Christopher Boyd is executive chairman of Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd.

By The Star (by Christopher Boyd)

No comments: