It pays to go green…not just in the way we live but in the way we build.
As an individual, there are many initiatives you can undertake in an effort to go green. Some common methods include reusing and recycling waste, as well as reducing your carbon footprints. There is also another great way to express your love for Mother Nature —support green developments. This includes the construction of green or eco-friendly buildings.
What does it mean?
When you think about the term – ‘Green Building’, what comes to mind? Do you conjure up images of a house surrounded by creepers, tucked away in a jungle somewhere or do you imagine a building built entirely out of natural material like wood and bamboo? Perhaps you think of a household that’s super-vigilant in saving energy and water?
What exactly is a green building anyway and do green buildings play a big role in preserving our environment?
The green impact
Green developments have changed the world. An increasing number of developers, architects and engineers are initiating the construction of green buildings, striving to earn reputable certification and awards for their innovative structures and initiatives to preserve the environment.
Green developments can no doubt reduce the environmental impact of construction, compared to conventional development methods that use materials that can harm the environment or waste natural resources such as energy and water.
An international organisation has been set up to influence the green building marketplace. The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is a network of green building councils, consisting of members from over 100 countries. The role of WorldGBC is to help support and influence new and emerging green developments around the world. WorldGBC promotes green building initiatives and addresses environmental issues such as climate change and the reduction of carbon emissions.
Another organisation that plays a crucial role in green developments is the U.S Green Building Council. The council aims to change the way buildings and communities are created. The Council issues certifications to buildings around the world, which are built and operated in an eco-friendly way. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification program by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognises some of the world’s best green building strategies and practices such as Taipei 101 and the FBI Regional Headquarters in Chicago.
Closer to home, an independent organisation has been set up by a group of architects who have been developing and working towards sustainable and green architecture. Green Building Index Sdn Bhd (GBI) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) and the Association of Consulting Engineers of Malaysia (ACEM). GBI conducts training courses and also plays a role in certifying green buildings in Malaysia.
According to GBI, green buildings are defined as buildings that focus on increasing the efficiency of resource use, such as energy, water and materials, while reducing negative impact on human health and the environment as a whole.
Buildings that have been certified under the GBI panel have gone through a thorough assessment process to ensure that the development abides by the specific requirements set by the panel. This process starts from the initial stage of planning, right through the building’s development and on to completion of the project. Buildings that are certified by the GBI will also need to undergo a re-assessment every three years to ensure that the building is well-maintained.
The GBI rating system is based on 6 criteria:
- Energy Efficiency
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Sustainable Site Planning and Management
- Material and Resources
- Water Efficiency
There are different levels of certification for GBI certified buildings. Platinum is recognised as the highest level of certification, followed by Gold, Silver and Certified. In Malaysia, there are various types of developments that have received GBI certifications. They include townships, office buildings and even a hospital.
Amanjaya Specialist Hospital is Malaysia’s first green hospital and has been awarded the Silver rating by Green Building Index (GBI) Sdn. Bhd. Situated in Sungai Petani, Kedah, the Amanjaya Specialist Hospital was set up in 2005 by Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Tan Chiang Hooi.
“Our founder, Dr. Tan, who is also the Managing Director of the hospital, is passionate about creating an affordable healthcare center in an eco-friendly environment,” says General and Engineering Manager of Amanjaya Specialist Center Alex Kang Swee Long.
Starting out as a 19-bed hospital, it is now a trailblazer in the green development scene in Malaysia, particularly in healthcare. “The fact that we are the first to successfully build and operate a GBI certified hospital in Malaysia, should serve as an example for other healthcare players to seriously consider this option when it comes to constructing new hospitals in the future,” Kang stresses .
There are several reasons that inspired and initiated the development of the hospital. Kang shares that, “Our intention for setting up an environment-friendly hospital is to reduce energy consumption. This is because a hospital has high energy consumption as it operates 24 hours a day. We also hope to create an green environment that will enhance a patient’s recovery.”
The green perks
To be certified a green building, it is important that every step and decision made must not compromise the environment or the health of the people. “Some of the initiatives the hospital has taken to preserve the environment is to install a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system which generates electricity without greenhouse gas emissions and hence, does not contribute to global warming. Another initiative that we’ve taken is to have a recycling water system derived from rainwater and air-con condensate water for the purpose of irrigation. This significantly saves water,” shares Kang.
By taking these green initiatives, Amanjaya Specialist Hospital has also seen a long list of benefits for the hospital and the environment. “There are many folds,” says Kang. “The benefits of establishing a green building includes enhancing our patients’ health and comfort, improving indoor air quality, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emission, improving water conservation. We also hope to achieve low operating and maintenance cost in the long run.”
Preserving the environment is not a one-off initiative. In fact, it is important to ensure that this initiative is long-term practice and Amanjaya Specialist Center will ensure that they abide to their vision of a sustainable, green building. “We will continue to monitor our energy utilization using an electronic monitoring system which we have installed,” reveals Kang adding that the management of the hospital is always open to new and innovative ideas to strengthen the hospital’s efficiency in energy management. “We are now sharing our success story with others at a local and regional level. Visits to the hospital by organisations and schools have also been organised to educate those who would like to learn more about a green hospital.”
Green buildings in Malaysia
Curious to know some of the green buildings in Malaysia? Here are some of them!
Setia City Mall, Shah Alam
Menara Binjai, Kuala Lumpur
Sarawak Energy Berhad, Sarawak