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Green Building Index (GBI): Key criteria, list of GBI developments in Malaysia


Green buildings have become a buzzword in the Malaysian property market in recent years, with many developments marketed as being Green Building Index or GBI certified. We explore what it means to live in one and share a list of GBI-certified buildings in Malaysia.

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Green buildings in Malaysia are rated through the Green Building Index (GBI) – the nation’s first comprehensive rating system for evaluating the environmental design and performance of buildings, towns and factories. Another rating system being used in Malaysia to evaluate green buildings is the LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is governed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

1. Why is Green Building important in Malaysia?

Green buildings are designed to be energy efficient and water efficient, which means that the cost of utilities will be reduced. This is important considering how hot it can get in Malaysia. Buildings that incorporate renewable energy such as solar panels will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions. Solar power is something that can be easily harvested in Malaysia thanks to the abundance of sunshine that we get. The focus on using natural lighting and having good quality indoor air contributes to a healthy living environment.

What is the difference between green and sustainable buildings?

The terms “green building” and “sustainable building” tend to be used interchangeably but there is a slight difference between the two. A green building solely focuses on being environmentally friendly while a sustainable building takes into account the social and financial implications. For example, using wood as a construction material is good for the environment but not so for sustainability because trees take a long time to grow.

2. What is the GBI assessment?

Based on certain criteria determined by the GBI body, buildings are awarded either the Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified ratings. This does not stop at the construction completion stage as buildings have to be re-assessed every three years to maintain their ratings. This ensures that buildings are well-maintained.

Property developers would first have to submit an application for GBI assessment and pay a fee before being appointed a GBI certifier. They will then submit the green building design for assessment by the GBI certifier. An assessment panel will then award a provisional GBI Design Assessment certification with an accompanying score sheet. The final award will be given upon the completion of a Completion and Verification Assessment (CVA) after the project is completed.

Due to the different ways that buildings are used, there are separate assessment tools and scorecards for residential, commercial and industrial developments.

What is the role of GBI in Malaysia?

The GBI organisation was established by the Malaysia Institute of Architects or Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) in 2009 to set the standards for and administrate GBI accreditation. The organisation also trains GBI facilitators and certifiers.

The GBI rating system is strictly regulated by an independent committee, the GBI Accreditation Panel (GBIAP). Consisting of senior building professionals; this body reviews and awards the GBI rating to qualified projects.

The GBI rating tool provides an opportunity for property developers and building owners to design and construct green, sustainable buildings that can provide a healthier indoor environment, better connectivity to public transportation, the adoption of recycling and greenery for their projects and to help reduce construction impact on the environment.

3. Key criteria for assessing a building for GBI certification

There are six criteria Projects need to have green building features to be considered for GBI certification. There are six criteria that are being used to judge how “green” a building is.

Energy Efficiency

Some of the things to consider in an energy-efficient building include the orientation of the building for optimal natural lighting, the use of building materials that insulate heat and the use of renewable energy such as solar. Energy efficiency during construction is also taken into account.

© wklzzz | 123rf

Indoor Environment Quality

The inside of a green building must have good performance in air quality, acoustics, and visual and thermal comfort. These are achieved through the use of low-volatile organic compound materials and the application of quality air filtration. There must also be proper control of air temperature, movement and humidity.

Material Resources

Building materials should be environment-friendly and sourced from sustainable sources. These materials tend to be made from renewable resources such as bamboo, cork, natural fibres, and recycled building materials. The developer should implement proper construction waste management and recycle or reuse materials where possible.

Sustainable Site Planning and Management

Property developers should avoid environmentally sensitive areas by redeveloping existing sites. They should implement proper construction management and stormwater management to protect the surrounding areas and reduce strain on existing infrastructure. A residential development for instance, should be properly planned with community amenities, open spaces and good landscaping. Easy access and walkability to public transportation such as MRT or LRT from the property site is also important to encourage residents to reduce their carbon footprint.


Developers need to include innovation in their design and construction to help them meet the objectives of the GBI.

Water Efficiency

Buildings should adopt measures to increase water efficiency including rainwater harvesting, water recycling and water-saving fittings.

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The level of GBI rating is awarded based on the points obtained:

PointsGBI rating
86 to 100Platinum
76 to 85Gold
66 to 75Silver
50 to 65Certified

4. What does it mean if a property has a GBI certificate?

Besides being a great marketing tool, a property with GBI certification means that the developer has not only built an energy and water-efficient building but has also committed, in varying degrees – to sustainable building practices starting from the design phase of the development.

As developers strive to obtain GBI certification and considering the certification has to be renewed every 3 years, the Malaysian housing industry will benefit as we see more innovation in sustainable construction practices, building designs and property management.

5. What are the benefits of living in a Green Building?

While you might be paying a bit more for a GBI-certified property, there are several benefits of owning one.

indoor air quality
© 123rf

A. Reduced utility bills

With energy-saving options in place (such as LED lights, solar panels, heat reduction and natural ventilation), you will save on your utility bills in the long run.

B. Better outdoor and indoor living environment

Buildings with GBI certification will have to include open spaces and landscaping in their plans so you have green features to enjoy on a daily basis. Moreover, a green building achieves better indoor environmental quality through passive design strategies – thus improving acoustic, visual and thermal comfort. The cooler, brighter and healthier environment will bring forth an increase in the well-being of its occupants. 

C. Easy access to public transportation

This is also one of the criteria for certification so you have the option to make use of public transportation when commuting to work and travelling into the city.

D. Better management of property

If the building management wants to renew the certification every 3 years, they will have to make sure that the building is properly managed. Residents will also enjoy lower maintenance charges in the long run because green buildings require significantly less maintenance.

E. Sustainable lifestyle

You will play your part in contributing to the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. You will most likely be living in a community of like-minded people who also chose this lifestyle.

F. Preferential rates for housing loans

CIMB offers 10 basis points (0.10%) lower interest rates for home loans applied for the purchase of a green-certified residential property.

G. Rebate on assessment tax

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) became the first local council in Malaysia to offer rebates on assessment for homes with green initiatives. The maximum rebate awarded is 100% or RM500, whichever is lower. Homeowners can only apply once for the following year’s assessment unless there are improvements in any of the categories. Homes are evaluated based on energy (solar panels, at least 70% LED lights, usage of 5-star electrical equipment, roof insulation), water (rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, water-saving appliances, etc), waste composting and waste separation, transportation (the possession and use of hybrid/electrical cars, electrical motorcycles; use of public transportation) and biodiversity (more than 50% of landed property is covered with soft landscaping/greenery). The council usually announces the green rebate scheme on its website when it is open for application.

All these factors will also mean that the property will increase in value, especially if the building management ensures that the certification is renewed every 3 years. As researched by the World Green Building Council, green building practices will increase building values by 7.5%. A discerning property buyer will realise that green buildings actually enjoy higher capital appreciation as compared to normal buildings.

6. Certified GBI buildings in Malaysia

A. Ken Rimba – Shah Alam

Jia Jin |

One of Malaysia’s first green townships, Ken Rimba incorporates plenty of greenery surrounding the township, as well as the use of heat-reflective paint and good cross-ventilation design to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. A rainwater harvesting system will be used for landscape irrigation and general facilities.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Certified
  • Developer: KEN Holdings Berhad
  • Type: Freehold condominium
  • Built-up: 1119 sq ft
  • Year of completion: 2012

B. Bukit Bintang City Centre – Kuala Lumpur

The Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) is home to the PNB 188 skyscraper, the future tallest building in Malaysia, but more importantly, a green lung will weave throughout the project creating a series of parks, gardens, and green pockets.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Gold
  • Developer: EcoWorld, UDA and EPF
  • Type: Serviced residence
  • Built-up: 454 sq ft to 882 sq ft
  • Year of completion: 2020

C. Bandar Rimbayu Township – Telok Panglima Garang

The homes at Bandar Rimbayu incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency, with great indoor ventilation, solar-powered water heaters and rain harvesting systems. Not only are there green open spaces, but its residential parcels are also designed with nature-friendly principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). For example, a green buffer zone separates motorised lanes and pedestrian walkways.

Check out the project here.

Green building certification: GBI Silver

  • Developer: IJM Land
  • Type: Two-storey linked homes, semi-detached homes
  • Built-up: Various
  • Year of completion: Various completion dates

More: 10 Most Searched Condominiums/Apartments For Rent In Petaling Jaya In 2022

D. PJ Midtown – Petaling Jaya

© PJ Midtown

Based in Section 13 Petaling Jaya, PJ Midtown is a mixed development that meets the Gold rating for GBI – this means it has incorporated a ton of green-friendly elements. Some of these include a solar PV system on the roof, high-performance glass to reduce heat gain, high-efficiency LED light fittings, a rainwater harvesting system, and its close proximity to public transportation, facilities, and community amenities. There’s even a herbs garden for the personal use of those who live at PJ Midtown.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Gold Provisional Certification
  • Developer: IOI Properties & Sime Darby Brunsfield
  • Type: Mixed-Development
  • Built-up: 1,120,236 sq ft (gross floor area [GFA])
  • Year of completion: 2019

E. Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) – Kuala Lumpur

The first township in Malaysia given the platinum GBI rating, this highly rated development in the Kuala Lumpur business district is committed to sustainability – adopting zero waste principles, maximising the lifecycle of its materials, and adapting to future climate changes. The TRX City Park will be a key green lung right in the heart of the city, connecting KL-ites back to nature.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Platinum, LEED Gold
  • Developer: TRX City Sdn Bhd
  • Type: Financial district comprising offices, residential towers, hotel and retail
  • Built-up: 21 million sq ft (GFA)
  • Year of completion: Partially completed, with TRX Residences to be completed by 2023

F. Eco Forest – Semenyih

Colin Lau |

Located in Semenyih, Eco Forest will spread across 515 acres and features landed houses with an A-frame concept. This offers a fresh take on how terraces can look in an environment that embraces its natural surroundings. The township will also allocate 25 acres for its Forest Lake Park. 

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Certified
  • Developer: EcoWorld
  • Type: Landes strata homes and apartment units
  • Built-up: 1,865 – 2,425 (landed homes)
  • Year of completion: 2022 onwards (8 phases including shop offices and commercial centre)

G. Leisure Farm Resort – Iskandar Malaysia

Leisure Farm Resort Iskandar Malaysia’s first Green Building Index (GBI) certified development, built upon the principles of Sustainability, Energy, Environment, Design and Security. Leisure Farm is a luxury eco-development that has won several awards, including the CNBC Asia & Pacific & International Property Awards and FIABCI Malaysia Property Awards.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Certified
  • Developer: Mulpha International Berhad
  • Type: Bungalows, semi-detached homes and townhouses
  • Built-up: 3721 sq ft – 4800 sq ft
  • Year of completion: 2025

If you enjoyed this article, read this next: Condo vs Serviced Apartment in Malaysia: What’s the difference and which one is better?

H. Eco Ardence – Setia Alam

Eco Ardence is a gated and guarded mixed-development township, spanning 533 acres. The township features 6 residential collections – including Aeres, Cora and Nara. Residents will get to enjoy abundant greenery, parks and lakes on top of green features such as designated cycling lanes, responsible construction and waste recycling, and even active composting.

Check out the project here.

  • Green building certification: GBI Certified
  • Developer: EcoWorld
  • Type: Semi-detached homes, bungalows, link homes, terrace homes, townhouses
  • Built-up: Various sizes
  • Year of completion: 2019 onwards

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Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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