a. What are the main aims of Green Buildings?
b. What is Green Building Index [GBI]?
Green Building definition
Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.
Green building is about more than just constructing an energy-efficient structure. It is concerned with creating a comfortable living or working space where the occupants have a sustainable relationship with their community, their environment, as well as the resources of the planet upon which they live. Green buildings are designed to save energy and resources recycle materials and minimize the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle.
Green buildings harmonize with the local climate, traditions, culture and the surrounding environment and able to sustain and improve the quality of human life whilst maintaining the capacity of the ecosystem at local and global levels at the same time make efficient use of resources, have significant operational savings and increases workplace productivity.
The following are some basic goals that green building intent to achieve:
1. Reduce Water Use
2. Reduced Material Use
3. Increased Human Health
4. Intelligent Use of Space
5. Working With Nature
Reduced Water Use - As with energy, a highly-efficient building uses only about ten-percent of the water used in an average building. Low-flush or composting toilets, reduced water-use fixtures, wastewater recycling, and water capturing devices (like rain barrels, wetlands or cisterns) can reduce the amount of water used and/or wasted in a commercial, industrial or residential building.
Reduced Material Use - The goal of all green buildings is to construct them totally out of renewable materials that are either made from recycled material, reused, repurposed or recyclable. Newly constructed green buildings are constructed from carefully selected materials that minimize the impact on the environment or materials that would otherwise be thrown away. The building is designed in way that there is little waste generated during construction.
Additionally, a green building is designed so that when it is re-modeled or demolished at some point in the future, the materials used to build it can be easily used again, either in the same building or for some other purpose.
Increased Human Health - Ultimately buildings are a place designed for people. How the building is constructed can have a big impact on the health of those who live or work in and around them. Air quality, noise levels, lighting quality and temperature/humidity control are important to maintaining a pleasant and healthy environment. Also, green buildings eliminate materials that can give off toxic gases and/or odours that make them dangerous or uncomfortable.
Intelligent Use of Space - The size, shape, orientation and basic design of a building will impact how well it works and how much energy it uses. As part of the green building process, designers seek to do the most with as little material as possible. Smaller, more efficiently designed rooms are easier to cool. Homes that face the sun are easier to heat.
Working With Nature - Many traditional designers have viewed nature as something to battle against. They focus on how to keep the water out; how to keep the heat in. They see the building as something separate from nature – not a part of nature. As a result, many building systems are designed to work against or imitate natural processes – using fossil fuels to perform tasks that nature performs automatically
The main aims of Green Buildings
Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:
- Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
- Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
- Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
A similar concept is natural building, which is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally. Other related topics include sustainable design and green architecture. Green building does not specifically address the issue of the retrofitting existing homes.
Reducing environmental impact
Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of new buildings. Buildings account for a large amount of land use, energy and water consumption, and air and atmosphere alteration. Considering the statistics, reducing the amount of natural resources buildings consume and the amount of pollution given off is seen as crucial for future sustainability, according to EPA. The building sector alone accounts for 30-40 percent of global energy use. Over 80 percent of the environmentally harmful emissions from buildings are due to energy consumption during the times when the buildings are in use. Green building does not typically include the concept of renovations although many of the 2050 homes are already built and UK homes account for 30% of UK Carbon Emission. Domestic energy improvement targets of 20% between now and 2010, and again by a further 20% between 2010 and 2020 have been suggested by the UK government. The environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated, while the perceived costs of green buildings are overestimated. A recent survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development finds that green costs are overestimated by 300 percent, as key players in real estate and construction estimate the additional cost at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true average cost difference of about 5 percent. According to the UK Green Building Council, existing buildings account for 17% of the UK's total carbon emissions.
The concept of sustainable development can be traced to the energy (especially fossil oil) crisis and the environment pollution concern in the 1970s. The green building movement in the U.S. originated from the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction practices. There are a number of motives to building green, including environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, modern sustainability initiatives call for an integrated and synergistic design to both new construction and in the retrofitting of an existing structure. Also known as sustainable design, this approach integrates the building life-cycle with each green practice employed with a design-purpose to create a synergy amongst the practices used.
Green building brings together a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of new buildings on the environment and human health. It often emphasizes taking advantage of renewable resources, e.g., using sunlight through passive solar, active solar, and photovoltaic techniques and using plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens, and for reduction of rainwater run-off. Many other techniques, such as using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water, are used as well.
While the practices, or technologies, employed in green building are constantly evolving and may differ from region to region, there are fundamental principles that persist from which the method is derived: Siting and Structure Design Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Materials Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality Enhancement, Operations and Maintenance Optimization, and Waste and Toxics Reduction. The essence of green building is an optimization of one or more of these principles. Also, with the proper synergistic design, individual green building technologies may work together to produce a greater cumulative effect.
On the aesthetic side of green architecture or sustainable design is the philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site. There are several key steps in designing sustainable buildings: specify 'green' building materials from local sources, reduce loads, optimize systems, and generate on-site renewable energy.
Siting and structure design efficiency
The foundation of any construction project is rooted in the concept and design stages. The concept stage, in fact, is one of the major steps in a project life cycle, as it has the largest impact on cost and performance. In designing environmentally optimal buildings, the objective is to minimize the total environmental impact associated with all life-cycle stages of the building project. However, building as a process is not as streamlined as an industrial process, and varies from one building to the other, never repeating itself identically. In addition, buildings are much more complex products, composed of a multitude of materials and components each constituting various design variables to be decided at the design stage. A variation of every design variable may affect the environment during all the building's relevant life-cycle stages.
Green buildings often include measures to reduce energy use. To increase the efficiency of the building envelope, (the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space), they may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors. Another strategy, passive solar building design, is often implemented in low-energy homes. Designers orient windows and walls and place awnings, porches, and trees to shade windows and roofs during the summer while maximizing solar gain in the winter. In addition, effective window placement (daylighting) can provide more natural light and lessen the need for electric lighting during the day. Solar water heating further reduces energy loads.
Onsite generation of renewable energy through solar power, wind power, hydro power, or biomass can significantly reduce the environmental impact of the building. Power generation is generally the most expensive feature to add to a building.
Reducing water consumption and protecting water quality are key objectives in sustainable building. One critical issue of water consumption is that in many areas, the demands on the supplying aquifer exceed its ability to replenish itself. To the maximum extent feasible, facilities should increase their dependence on water that is collected, used, purified, and reused on-site. The protection and conservation of water throughout the life of a building may be accomplished by designing for dual plumbing that recycles water in toilet flushing. Waste-water may be minimized by utilizing water conserving fixtures such as ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow shower heads. Bidets help eliminate the use of toilet paper, reducing sewer traffic and increasing possibilities of re-using water on-site. Point of use water treatment and heating improves both water quality and energy efficiency while reducing the amount of water in circulation. The use of non-sewage and greywater for on-site use such as site-irrigation will minimize demands on the local aquifer.
Building materials typically considered to be 'green' include rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo (because bamboo grows quickly) and straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, ecology blocks, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable (e.g. Trass, Linoleum, sheep wool, panels made from paper flakes, compressed earth block, adobe, baked earth, rammed earth, clay, vermiculite, flax linen, sisal, seagrass, cork, expanded clay grains, coconut, wood fibre plates, calcium sand stone, concrete (high and ultra high performance, roman self-healing concrete , etc. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) also suggests using recycled industrial goods, such as coal combustion products, foundry sand, and demolition debris in construction projects. Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation. Where possible, building elements should be manufactured off-site and delivered to site, to maximise benefits of off-site manufacture including minimising waste, maximising recycling (because manufacture is in one location), high quality elements, better OHS management, less noise and dust.
Indoor environmental quality enhancement
The Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) category in LEED standards, one of the five environmental categories, was created to provide comfort, well-being, and productivity of occupants. The LEED IEQ category addresses design and construction guidelines especially: indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal quality, and lighting quality.
Indoor Air Quality seeks to reduce volatile organic compounds, or VOC's, and other air impurities such as microbial contaminants. Buildings rely on a properly designed HVAC system to provide adequate ventilation and air filtration as well as isolate operations (kitchens, dry cleaners, etc.) from other occupancies. During the design and construction process choosing construction materials and interior finish products with zero or low emissions will improve IAQ. Many building materials and cleaning/maintenance products emit toxic gases, such as VOC's and formaldehyde. These gases can have a detrimental impact on occupants' health and productivity as well. Avoiding these products will increase a building's IEQ.
Personal temperature and airflow control over the HVAC system coupled with a properly designed building envelope will also aid in increasing a building's thermal quality. Creating a high performance luminous environment through the careful integration of natural and artificial light sources will improve on the lighting quality of a structure.
Operations and maintenance optimization
No matter how sustainable a building may have been in its design and construction, it can only remain so if it is operated responsibly and maintained properly. Ensuring operations and maintenance (O&M) personnel are part of the project's planning and development process will help retain the green criteria designed at the onset of the project. Every aspect of green building is integrated into the O&M phase of a building's life. The addition of new green technologies also falls on the O&M staff. Although the goal of waste reduction may be applied during the design, construction and demolition phases of a building's life-cycle, it is in the O&M phase that green practices such as recycling and air quality enhancement take place.
Green architecture also seeks to reduce waste of energy, water and materials used during construction. For example, in California nearly 60% of the state's waste comes from commercial buildings. During the construction phase, one goal should be to reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Well-designed buildings also help reduce the amount of waste generated by the occupants as well, by providing on-site solutions such as compost bins to reduce matter going to landfills.
To reduce the impact on wells or water treatment plants, several options exist. "Greywater", wastewater from sources such as dishwashing or washing machines, can be used for subsurface irrigation, or if treated, for non-potable purposes, e.g., to flush toilets and wash cars. Rainwater collectors are used for similar purposes.
Centralized wastewater treatment systems can be costly and use a lot of energy. An alternative to this process is converting waste and wastewater into fertilizer, which avoids these costs and shows other benefits. By collecting human waste at the source and running it to a semi-centralized biogas plant with other biological waste, liquid fertilizer can be produced. This concept was demonstrated by a settlement in Lubeck Germany in the late 1990s. Practices like these provide soil with organic nutrients and create carbon sinks that remove CO2from the atmosphere, offsetting greenhouse gas emission. Producing artificial fertilizer is also more costly in energy than this process
Cost and payoff
The most criticized issue about constructing environmentally friendly buildings is the price. Photo-voltaics, new appliances, and modern technologies tend to cost more money. Most green buildings cost a premium of <2%, but yield 10 times as much over the entire life of the building. The stigma is between the knowledge of up-front cost vs. life-cycle cost. The savings in money come from more efficient use of utilities which result in decreased energy bills. It is projected that different sectors could save $130 Billion on energy bills, Also, higher worker or student productivity can be factored into savings and cost deductions.
Studies have shown over a 20 year life period, some green buildings have yielded $53 to $71 per square foot back on investment. Confirming the rentability of green building investments, further studies of the commercial real estate market have found that LEED and Energy Star certified buildings achieve significantly higher rents, sale prices and occupancy rates as well as lower capitalization rates potentially reflecting lower investment risk.
Green building concepts and techniques offer significant advantages over traditional construction practices. These include:
Lower cost - While the initial investment in constructing the building (capital costs) may be higher, an evaluation of the life-cycle cost (LCC) will almost always indicate that a green building is less expensive than traditional construction over the life of the building.
Better health - As many as 30% of new and remodeled buildings generate excessive complaints about indoor air quality. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that building-related health problems cost businesses more than $150 billion per year.
Saves resources - Green buildings use fewer resources than traditional buildings - in materials, energy and water. It is a cost-effective and ethical response to increased pollution and diminishing resources concerns.
Better productivity - Studies have found that people working in green buildings are 3-5% more productive, due to their comfort and quality of life advantages.
Enhanced public image - Businesses have found that incorporating green construction in their facility planning demonstrates a tangible commitment to the environment as well as a commitment to the health and comfort of their employees.
Longer building life - Many buildings are constructed with a very limited lifespan in mind. Developers assume that the structure will be torn down and replaced in 10-15 years. Green building incorporates a higher quality and longer anticipated life of the building and contents, reducing waste and resulting in better quality buildings.
Better financing - Many lending institutions offer better terms for projects that incorporate green building processes.
Higher resale value - Green buildings consistently sell for more money than do similar traditional buildings. The advantages of a green building (such as lower energy bills) translate into higher selling prices down the road.
Green Building Index [GBI]
GBI was developed by Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) and Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) with the objective to promote sustainability in Built Environment. GBI Malaysia is a profession driven initiative to lead the Malaysian property industry towards becoming more environment-friendly. It is intended to promote sustainability in the built environment and raise awareness among Developers, Architects, Engineers, Planners, Designers, Contractors and the Public about environmental issues.
GBI Malaysia is a benchmarking rating system that provides a comprehensive framework to evaluate the environmental impact and performance of buildings based on the 6 key criteria (Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Sustainable Site Planning & Management, Material & Resources, Water Efficiency and Innovation). Buildings will be awarded GBI Malaysia Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified ratings depending on the scores achieved. GBI Malaysia by PAM/ACEM incorporates internationally recognized best practices in environmental design and performance that will serve to promote environment-friendly buildings for the future of Malaysia. It was launched on 21 May 2009 by YB Dato’ Shaziman Bin Abu Mansor, the Minister of Works, Malaysia.
Objectives of the GBI
GBI has been developed keeping in mind the tropical Malaysian climate, environmental and developmental context, and cultural and social needs. It has been created to:
- Define green buildings by establishing a common language and standard of measurement;
- Promote integrated, whole-building designs that provide a better environment for all;
- Recognise and reward environmental leadership;
- Transform the built environment to reduce its negative environmental impact; and
- Ensure that new buildings are sustainable and existing buildings are refurbished and upgraded to improve the overall quality of building stock.
The Government’s commitment to a greener future is clear. Incentives in the form of tax exemption for building owners, and stamp duty exemptions for buyers of properties that achieve GBI certification have been provided in Budget 2010. These are to help the country to build more Green buildings and also to develop more Green Technologies. The majority of existing buildings in Malaysia were built without green considerations, it is timely that GBI has developed a tool to help property owners to upgrade and retro-fit their buildings. They will become more energy, water and resource efficient, have better indoor working qualities and also contribute less waste and green house gases. The Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water is fully supportive of all such contributions and inputs to help drive the development of Green Technology in Malaysia. Incentives for GBI in the 2010 Budget will further propel the development of more green buildings in Malaysia.
The Green Building Index is an environmental rating system for buildings developed by PAM (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia / Malaysian Institute of Architects) and ACEM (the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia). The Green Building Index is Malaysia’s first comprehensive rating system for evaluating the environmental design and performance of Malaysian buildings based on the six (6) main criteria of Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environment Quality, Sustainable Site Planning & Management, Materials & Resources, Water Efficiency, and Innovation.
The Green Building Index is fundamentally derived from existing rating tools, including the Singapore Green Mark and the Australian Green Star system, but extensively modified for relevance to the Malaysian tropical weather, environmental context, cultural and social needs.
This GBI initiative aims to assist the building industry in its march towards sustainable development. The GBI environmental rating system is created to:
Define green building by establishing a common language and standard of measurement;
Promote integrated, whole-building design;
Recognise and reward environmental leadership;
Transform the built environment to reduce the environmental impact of development; and
Ensure new buildings remain relevant in the future and existing buildings are refurbished and thereafter sustained properly to remain relevant.
The GBI is an important green rating tool to assist all those involved in the property and construction sector to become more environment-friendly. Although there are already many green rating tools developed like the LEED, BREEAM, CASBEE, Green Star etc, the GBI is created and customized for the Malaysian culture and climate. In addition, it is also one of the first green rating tools developed by professionals for the tropical climate and this has attracted a lot of international interest and its trend is very much driven by property developers who want something different to add a marketing edge to their new projects. This GBI tool can help transform aging and inefficient buildings to become higher value assets. The GBI rating is based on 6 criteria:
1) Energy Efficiency
2) Indoor Environmental Quality
3) Sustainable Site Planning And Management
4) Materials And Resources
5) Water Efficiency
1) Energy Efficiency (EE) - Improve energy consumption by optimizing building orientation, minimizing solar heat gain through the building envelope, harvesting natural lighting, adopting the best practices in building services including use of renewable energy, and ensuring proper testing, commissioning and regular maintenance.
2) Indoor Environment Quality (EQ) - Achieve good quality performance in indoor air quality, acoustics, visual and thermal comfort. These will involve the use of low volatile organic compound materials, application of quality air filtration, proper control of air temperature, movement and humidity.
3) Sustainable Site Planning & Management (SM) - Selecting appropriate sites with planned access to public transportation, community services, open spaces and landscaping. Avoiding and conserving environmentally sensitive areas through the redevelopment of existing sites and brown fields. Implementing proper construction management, storm water management and reducing the strain on existing infrastructure capacity.
4) Materials & Resources (MR) - Promote the use of environment-friendly materials sourced from sustainable sources and recycling. Implement proper construction waste management with storage, collection and re-use of recyclables and construction formwork and waste.
5) Water Efficiency (WE) - Rainwater harvesting, water recycling and water-saving fittings.
6) Innovation (IN) - Innovative design and initiatives that meet the objectives of the GBI.
The following diagram shows the % of point’s allocation for GBI rating
Achieving points in these targeted areas will mean that the building will likely be more environment-friendly than those that do not address the issues. Under the GBI assessment framework, points will also be awarded for achieving and incorporating environment-friendly features which are above current industry practice.
GBI will provide an assessable differentiation to promote environment-friendly buildings for the future of Malaysia. It is a benchmarking rating system that incorporates internationally recognised best practices in environmental design and performance.
Green rating tools were conceived to be able to assist architects, designers, builders, government bodies, building owners, developers and end users to understand the impact of each design choice and solution. By so doing, the final built product would perform better in its location whilst also reducing its harmful impact on the surroundings.