Green Building Initiative | Policies & Trends | Global & Malaysia
A ‘green’ building can be referring to a building that reduces or eliminates detrimental effects while also create positive effects on the climate and natural environment, by its design, construction, or operation. In simple terms, green buildings help to protect valuable natural resources while also improving human life quality. Any type of building, whether it is a house, a school, a company, a health center, or anything else, can be a green building if it has the criteria or features. For example, a building that uses renewable energy, eg. solar energy and hydro energy, implement measures to reduce pollution and waste, as well as reuse and recycling of waste, and use energy, water, and other resources efficiently. The building also can consider as a green building if its design, construction, and operation have taken into account environmental factors.
Green buildings bring numerous advantages to the world. From the environmental perspective, by generating their own energy or promoting biodiversity, green buildings have a positive effect on the environment at the building or city level. According to Global Status Report 2016 by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) (2016), in 2050, the building sector has the potential to save 50% or more on energy, helping to keep global temperature rises below 2°C (above pre-industrial levels). In addition, in India, green buildings accredited by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) successfully save 40 to 50 percent on energy and 20 to 30 percent on the water when compared to conventional Indian buildings. From the economic perspective, the construction of green buildings generates a lower cost on utility bills for households, reducing the construction costs while rising the property value for construction developers as well as create employment opportunities. According to a report published by European Commission 2015, global energy efficiency measure might save between €280 and €410 billion in energy consumption which is equivalent to almost twice the electricity consumption of the United States in a year. Moreover, researchers found that people who worked in well-ventilated offices had a 101% increase in cognitive scores (brain function) (Harvard University, 2017). For all of its advantages, green building is something of a double-edged sword. The disadvantages of green building including high initial cost, maintenance difficulty, technology issues, long-term consequences are uncertain, and others.
Policies and Trends
Figure 1: Level of Green Building Activity
Green building initiatives have grown dramatically continuously across the world. According to World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report (Dodge Data and Analytics, 2018), it reported that green building activities will increase. Based on Figure 1, the majority of the respondent (47%) stated that they will build more than 60% of green projects by 2021.
Figure 2: Top Triggers Driving Future Green Building Activity
Figure 2 demonstrates the top triggers driving future green building activity. This finding has a similar trend with the findings reported in the SmartMarket Report 2015. Client demands (34%) is the main factor that driving future green building. It is followed by environmental regulations (33%) and healthier buildings (27%).
Table 1: Countries With the Highest Percentage Reporting Use of Green Building Products/Services
Based on Table 1, 11 countries reported that their countries use more than 60% of green building products or services. There are also quite a number of countries that use about 50% to 59% of green building products or services in their own industries.
Figure 3: Level of Green Building Activity for Respondents in the UK, Ireland and Norway
Figure 4: Level of Green Building Activity for Respondents in Germany, Poland and Spain
Six countries in Europe including UK, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Poland, and Spain are highlighted in this research. The degree of green building activity is varying across the six countries. In 2018, Ireland recorded the highest percentage of doing more than 60% of the green building project, which was 40%. On other hand, Poland recorded the lowest degree of green building activity in Europe. However, all the European countries are expected to have a higher level of green building activity by 2021. According to World Green Building Council, the European Commission agreed to a set of six high-level objectives in a new paper that will serve as the foundation for future European green building policy. The objectives are categorized into two sections, which are lifecycle environmental issues, and another focusing on quality, performance, and valuable consideration. This initiative is designed to help more European governments and businesses move towards green building initiatives and promote green markets.
(ii) United State (US)
Figure 5: Level of Green Building Activity for Respondents in US
US recorded 32% of doing majority (more than 60%) of their projects green in 2018. The green building projects in US is expected to rise to 45% by 2021. This finding is consistent with the previous SmartMarket Report in 2015. Client demands is the primary triggers for green building activity in US, which accounted for 44%. It is followed by healthier buildings (32%) and environmental regulations (28%) as well as the right things to do (28%). The green market is being driven by US Government policies and projects. These projects are typically motivated by a desire to save money on energy and water while also improving living and working circumstances. The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in December 2007, intends to reduce energy use in US federal buildings by 30% by 2015 and encourages new and renovated federal buildings to rely less on fossil fuels.
Over the past decade, green building initiatives in Malaysia have received extensive attention from government agencies, private organizations, and the public. With the announcement of the National Green Technology Policy (NGTP) in 2009, there has been a greater focus on renewable energy (RE), energy efficiency (EE) and the green building index. In the current circumstances, it is difficult for Malaysia to build more green buildings because more than 90% of our electricity originates from fossil fuels. There are some of the government’s green initiatives announced in Budget 2021. One of the initiatives including establishing the Malaysia-Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Trust Fund in collaboration with the United Nations. The fund will systematically coordinate funding from diverse governmental and private sources. Other initiatives also included providing RM40 million over five years to improve environmental quality monitoring and enforcement efforts, including the establishment of 30 monitoring stations across the country. By emphasizing the relationship between environmental degradation and COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, more Malaysian would support green building and reimagine sustainable cities fit for post-COVID-19.
References: iopscience, europa, worldgbc, harvard, thestar