Saturday, October 13, 2012

Moving Forward with GBI

Green Building Index

In keeping pace with the demands of modern living, designers and builders equally reflect their concerns about the environment through incorporating a voluntary green rating scheme which is managed by a board of registered architects and engineers. The Green Building Index has a total of 290 buildings as at June 2012 and nine townships registered for certification throughout the nation. 

According to the Northern Chapter President of Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) and also Penang Green Council committee member, Mr. Lawrence Lim, Penang currently has 30 buildings applying for certification while 10 buildings are on provisionary certification.

“Penang was the first state in Malaysia to embrace the Green Building Index,” he added. Among the more notable developments that have applied for the GBI are The Light Project by IJM, The Setia Greens by SP Setia, Brooke Residence and Penaga Hotel, a heritage hotel in George Town. 

“Despite the premium, all terrace houses under the Setia Green project are sold,” said Khoo Teik Chong indicating an increased price of about 10% - 15% as compared to non-GBI certified buildings.

The terrace houses were sold between RM900,000 and RM1 million when it was first launched by SP Setia two years ago and is now worth about RM1.6 million. 

Khoo, the General Manager of SP Setia also mentioned that the sPICE project in Bayan Baru is GBI compliant as well. 

Architectural designs that are ecologically friendly maximizes the use of natural ventilation and natural lighting to save on electricity usage while minimizing environmental impacts. Features include fittings that save energy and resources like cool roofing, solar energy panels, water efficiency gadgets, rainwater harvesting devices and proper waste management.

There are four categories of classification for the GBI – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These ratings depend on the number of points awarded to the building after inspection. Developers are also encouraged to build green buildings. 

 “We encourage GBI by giving incentives. But, to achieve GBI needs additional costs, so developers target commercial buildings mostly,” replied Wong Hon Wai, the State Housing Exco through a text reply when asked if developers of Low-Cost and Low-Medium Cost flats would be required to obtain GBI certifications in the future. 

However, IJM General Manager, Toh Chin Leong says that the incentives given to their counterparts in Singapore are much more attractive as direct rebates are given to the developers for using green building materials like reconstructed wood, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and specially prepared glass. 

Paying to Save the Environment 

Toh also emphasized the need to step-up efforts to educate the public on saving the environment. 

“Building green buildings are one thing, but maintaining them is another,” he said, referring to landed property owners who eventually opt to cement their compound for more parking space. He also says that the government could also make it a policy to make Green Buildings compulsory for all future buildings.

Justifying the need to pay to save the environment is contradictory. However, green is the new buzzword for this century. It serves as a reminder for us to take care of our surroundings and to live as harmoniously as possible with the environment. Co-existence and balance between nature and development is our only way to sustainable living. 

Article Published in Penang Green Council webpage.
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