Green building concept for the future

By Nur Elani Binti Hashnor 

Many of the developers nowadays tend to practice and apply a green building concept on every project they are doing. This is because green building is giving a better environmental friendly and saving the nature.

Let’s first take a look at what green building is all about. Green building refers to a structure and using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle. For example, from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. It is also known as sustainable or high performance building increases the efficiency which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials.

In Malaysia, the Green Building Index (GBI) is Malaysia’s industry recognised green rating tool for buildings to promote sustainability in the built environment and raise awareness among developers, architects, engineers, planners, designers, constructors, and the public about environmental issues and the responsibility to the future generation.

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 transport and the adoption of recycling and greenery for their projects and reduce impact on environment.

A green building concept is gaining importance in many countries including Malaysia. According to experts in technology, green buildings ensure water is minimized at every stage during the construction and operation of the building, resulting in low costs. Plus, a green building is a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout its life cycle.

The objectives for having green building are 1) using energy, water, and other resources efficiently 2) protect occupant health and improve employee productivity 3) water, pollution and degradation to be reduced. Hence, green building is aimed at reducing effect of the building on human health and natural environment as a whole.

The goal of green building is to bring together practices and techniques in reducing and maximising the impact of buildings on the environment and human health. The technique of taking advantage of renewable resources such as 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 runoff.

Among the fundamental principles are structure design efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste reduction.

Firstly, under structure design efficiency, concept and design stage is fundamental for any construction project. The concept stage is a major step in a project cycle as it has a huge impact on cost and performance. While the objective in designing environmentally optimal buildings is to minimise the total environmental impact associated with life-cycle stages of the building project.

Secondly, energy sufficiency refers to reducing operating energy use, such as high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors increase the efficiency the building envelope (the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space). Next example is passive solar building design that is usually implemented in low-energy homes. Designers orient windows, walls, and place awnings, porches and trees to shade windows and roofs during summer and maximise solar gain during winter.

The third principle is water efficiency. In sustainable building, reducing water consumption and protecting water quality are taken into consideration. Facilities should increase their dependence on water that is collected, used, purified, and reused on-site.

Suggestion on protection and conservation of water throughout the life of a building is designing a dual plumbing that recycles water in toilet flushing.

The fourth principle is waste reduction. In every green architecture, they will find ways to reduce the waste of energy, water and materials used during construction. For example, provide on-site solutions using compost bins to reduce matter going to landfills. To reduce effect on water treatment plant, is by having “Greywater”. It is a wastewater from sources like dishwashing or washing machines can be used to flush toilets or wash cars. Rainwater is also used for the same purposes.

Photo courtesy of Parnell NZ

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