Most people think of green buildings as just a building that does not really have as bad of an impact on the environment as another ‘average’ building. Not many building owners and developers are fully aware of the benefits of investing in a green building as they fail to see beyond the additional spending costs at the initial stages.
Dr Herman Teo, GM of Green Building Index explains why developers can’t go wrong by going green.
Green is the new black
In 2009, the organisation developed and introduced the Green Building Index (GBI) – Malaysia’s first comprehensive rating system for evaluating the environmental design and performance of buildings, towns and factories.
The GBI rating tool provides an opportunity for developers and building owners to design and construct green, sustainable buildings that can provide energy savings, water savings, a healthier indoor environment, better connectivity to public transportation, the adoption of recycling and greenery for their projects and help reduce construction impact on the environment. Since its introduction in 2009, GBI has certified over 150 million square feet of green spaces in Malaysia.
Why going Green pays
While it may cost developers a bit more to get started when they go green and while green materials and products can be more costly, they really have to consider the type of savings that they will be able to reap in the long-run. Even though green buildings may typically cost up to 3-6% more, most developers will recoup their initial investment within seven years through energy savings.
If a building was designed to be green since the design stage, there may not even be any additional cost. When constructing a green building, focus is placed on increasing the efficiency of resource use, namely energy, water and materials. The GBI certification is based on 6 main criteria namely Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environment Quality, Sustainable Site Planning & Management, Materials & Resources, Water Efficiency and Innovation.
For instance, energy efficiency means that energy consumption in a building is improved by optimising the north-south orientation, harvesting natural lighting, commissioning and regular maintenance. Malaysians spend copious amounts of money on electricity bills, especially with the recent El Nino; many are cranking up their air-conditioning throughout the day.
The most appealing factor of a green building is that it require much lesser energy to cool. The tenants of a green residential building will benefit from lower electricity and water bills as well as lower maintenance charges because green buildings require significantly less maintenance.
Similarly, commercial buildings will benefit from lower operating and maintenance costs through the implementation of proper construction management, storm water management and reducing the strain on existing infrastructure capacity. This means that there will be savings in water and electricity usage as well. GBI recently certified a coffee plant, which implemented new energy saving features to its existing factory building. Post certification, the factory now saves an astounding RM80,000 in maintenance bills each month!
Towards a brighter and greener future
By building green we will also be reducing the building’s impact on human health and environment during the building’s lifecycle; through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal.
One of the goals of green buildings is to reduce its environmental footprint. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that buildings contribute to as much as a third of total global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly due to the use of fossil fuels for energy generation. The diagram below proves how green buildings contributes in terms of reduced carbon emissions:
Besides that, a green building achieves better indoor environmental quality through passive design strategies, improving acoustic, visual and thermal comfort. The cooler, brighter and healthier environment will bring forth an increase in the wellbeing of its occupants and improve staff’s productivity in commercial buildings.
Dr Herman revealed that a building with good design, positioning and which have a lot of windows actually help its occupants (staff) to work and think better and their mental memory can improve by 10% to 25%; this will increase the productivity of the building’s occupants.
The added perk of green building include incentives for developers once they obtain GBI certification for their projects.
Any qualifying expenditure to obtain GBI certification for a building used for his business qualifies for tax exemption on the statutory income which is equivalent to 100% of that expenditure. It should be noted that 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.
A win-win situation
A GBI certified building not only saves money and the environment in the long run but also enhances a developer’s reputation as well, as it showcases a form of corporate social responsibility. More importantly, as researched by the World Green Building Council, green building practises 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.
“There is no downside to building green – If there is, why did some countries make it a requirement for all its buildings to have green building certification?” says Dr Herman.
Building owners should really look at a green building as more of an investment than anything else – an investment that not only saves money in the long-run but also helps the environment as well.
* GBI provides consultation services every fortnight, where developers and building owners could obtain guidance on Green Building standards in terms of building design and energy efficient features.
DISCLAIMER: The opinion stated in the article is solely of Dr Herman Teo and is not in any form an endorsement or recommendation by iProperty.com. Readers are encouraged to seek independent advice prior to making any investments .
This article was first published in the iProperty.com Malaysia June 2016 Magazine. Get your copy from selected news stands or view the magazine online for free at www.iproperty.com.my/magazine. Better yet, order a discounted subscription by putting in your details in the form below!