Green properties make commercial sense

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Dr Tan’s S11 House consumes 50 -60 per cent less water and energy vis-à-vis a house of similar size.

Dr Tan’s S11 House consumes 50 -60 per cent less water and energy vis-à-vis a house of similar size.

By Zhen M

As the nation progresses steadily into becoming a developed nation, sustainable development and more efficient use of resources becomes increasingly vital. Corporates have started to realise that green buildings make commercial sense, too. The awareness among homeowners is likewise gaining traction, albeit slower than what the more environmentally-conscious would like.

As at 15 May 2013, there were 54 green residential buildings and four townships certified under Green Building Index (GBI), the nation’s premier green building rating system, out of a total of 134 certified projects. GBI gold certified Ken Bangsar is perhaps the most widely recognised green development, having been awarded a slew of accolades including the prestigious FIABCI Malaysia Property Award for Sustainable Development and Green Mark Gold Award by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore.

A green building incorporates energy-saving technology into every aspect of its planning, construction and maintenance. It is a fact that with some clever designs and green tech, one can make a home not only cosy and environmentally-friendly, but also save significantly in utility bills as well. The award-winning S11 House, the first and so far only platinum-rated Green Building Index (GBI) residential building, serves as an excellent example.

According to owner and architect Dr Tan Loke Mun, the S11 House consumes 50 -60 per cent less water and energy vis-à-vis a house of similar size, i.e. a bungalow with a built-up area of 12,000 sq ft. Pretty nifty, considering such a large house could easily rake up RM3,000 in electricity bill. In fact, not only does Dr Tan not need to pay any water or electricity bill, the house earns him about RM700 per month! The solar panels installed on its roof generate an average of 15kW of power a day, which is fed back into the national grid under the government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) scheme.

Dr Tan Loke Mun – “It is not a style but the right thing to do. Yes there is a cost impact but the savings and benefits overtake these in a short time. The problem is that our Malaysian building laws state somewhat minimal standards and so the cost increase is perceived as high.”

Dr Tan, who was the team leader that led the development of GBI and a strong advocate and driver of the green building movement in Malaysia, reckons that demand for green homes will continue to increase in tandem with awareness. For example, most of the custom-built homes his firm ArchiCentre Sdn Bhd are helping to design are all green.

“It is not a style but the right thing to do. Yes there is a cost impact but the savings and benefits overtake these in a short time. The problem is that our Malaysian building laws state somewhat minimal standards and so the cost increase is perceived as high. With the new Uniform Building bylaws coming in, the cost gap will be minimised due to the new mandated higher minimum standards,” he says.

How much is the cost premium to build a green home compared to building a conventional one? Anything from the same cost to substantially more than 10%, depending on a host of factors, such as where and how the materials used are sourced/transported, and the level of rating one hopes to achieve.

Despite the many challenges in building the S11 House, as it was one of the earliest green homes in the country, its cost came up to be at par as building a non-green home “because it was planned as green from the onset”, says Dr Tan. It did help, of course, that the bulk of the old building that was demolished was recycled and  Dr Tan, determined to build a platinum-certified house, seemed to have really went out of his way to use a lot of recycled materials.

There are not many people like Dr Tan, not yet anyway.

Most people are just not willing to pay the premium, notes an industry veteran, who opines that, as such, large scale green residential developments are not really picking up. “At the end of the day, developers are commercially driven. Of course there are many developments – Setia Eco Parks and such – that are ‘green’ by their own definition and they sell well because the end-purchasers see what they are getting – trees, open spaces, low density, etc,” he says.

 

GBI certified Residential New Construction (RNC)

(as at 15 May 2013)

Applied

159

Registered

152

Total CertifiedRating category:

  • Platinum – 1
  • Gold – 12
  • Silver – 8
  • Certified – 33

*accounting for 40% of all GBI certified projects

54

Gross Floor Area, sqm (As Submitted)

2,656,900

CO2 Emission Reduction
(tCO2e/annum, based on electricity energy reduction only @ 1kWh = 0.69 kg CO2)

68,278

Source: GBI

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