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Saturday, July 16, 2011

More green buildings needed

Green city: To become a world class city, Kuala Lumpur must also be sustainable. One way of doing that is by building and designing buildings with minimal environmental degradation, in other words, building green buildings.

Building by-laws should compel developers to provide green features in their projects

While green solutions have long been adapted by property industry practitioners in the United States, Europe and Australia, it is still at an early stage in Malaysia.

According to the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlement (EAROPH) Malaysia honorary secretary, S Thirilogachandran, although there are lots of initiatives and programmes to promote greater green awareness and practices locally, there is still a need for more practical solutions to be adapted among the property development fraternity.

Building by-laws or other building legislation need to be made mandatory for developers to provide green features in their developments.

He says the Government should also come out with more incentives and policies to encourage more developers to adopt green solutions.

“The Government through the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry is also looking into promoting green practices by providing guidelines, framework and the policies.

“Initiatives such as offering tax benefit for green solutions in buildings are also in place. Soon, certain green requirements to be incorporated in buildings will be made mandatory by law. But there is still a lot to be done,” Thirilogachandran explains.

He says the number of green buildings and green neighbourhoods in the country is still very small, and hopefully in the next five years more green buildings and townships (that are under planning) will be completed by then.

Thirilogachandran says following the launch of the Green Building Index (GBI) in 2009 to rate green buildings, there is now greater awareness on green solutions among developers in the country and more developers are taking initiatives to adapt green practices and solutions in their developments.

To date GBI tools for buildings, townships and industrial projects have been launched, and the next to be launched will be for residential projects.

Some local authorities have made certain mandatory green requirements for approval of building plans and some have taken the initiative to green the cities under their purview. CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) vice-president of research, Nabeel Hussain says industry practitioners have a responsibility to adopt sustainable building practices and related technologies in order to play a proactive role in climate change mitigation.

“Malaysia's introduction of its own green rating system, the Green Building Index (GBI) in 2009, and the Government's support for the drive towards green buildings and technology should be a good start,” he says.

Thirilogachandran says in Asia, Japan has taken big initiatives in going green and to reduce its carbon foot print.

The Japanese have also taken initiatives in greening their existing buildings in a big way.

More countries are adapting green solutions in property development, including Singapore's Green Mark Rating and Australia's Green Star rating that has been in existence for more than a decade now.

Meanwhile, the larger economies like China and India, and other emerging economies like Vietnam and the Middle East are also catching up and have taken initiatives to incorporate green solutions in developments.

To raise greater awareness and promote green solutions in the local real estate and housing development industry, a conference on “Green Solutions for Property Development 2011 Greener Cities” will be held on July 28.

It is jointly organised by Rehda Institute and EAROPH Malaysia Chapter.

Thirilogachandran, who is the chairman of the organizing committee, says the conference will showcase latest developments on green solutions in different areas related to property development.

The aim of the conference is to demonstrate that green is a feasible alternative in today's highly competitive market environment through tested, practical and profitable methods.

He says the theme “Greener Cities” was chosen this year to address the green solutions for cities, townships and in the context of neighbourhoods rather than just addressing the solutions for a building or units within a building or a particular site.

It will cover aspects of planning and design, lifestyle, government policies and initiative, telecommunication, green townships tools, low carbon city framework, facilities and assets management and other green solutions for greener cities.

By The Star

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