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Construction industry has long been associated with the detrimental effects to our mother earth. In Malaysia, the government, professional bodies and private companies are beginning to take heed in the necessity to reduce this environmental problem without restraining the need for development.

Construction and maintenance of buildings and facilities result in a wide range of environmental impacts.

For example, the construction, operation and demolition of built facilities accounts for approximately 40% of all energy end use.

The potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in existing and new buildings is greater than that of any other sector.

Thus, reducing the overall environmental impact of this activity requires action on a broad front.

Consideration should be given to the following core principles during building and maintenance and when buildings are used:

  • Aiming for efficient construction;
  • Re-using existing built assets;
  • Minimising energy use;
  • Designing buildings to minimise waste;
  • Avoiding air, water and ground pollution;
  • Preserving and enhancing biodiversity;
  • Conserving water resources;
  • Respecting people and their local environment.

Many efforts are being directed to build sustainably in construction world. The direction of the industry is now shifting from developing with environmental concern as a small part of the process into having the development process being integrated within the wider context of environmental agenda.

Sustainable construction, which has been dubbed ‘green construction’, describes the responsibility of the construction industry in attaining sustainability.

The term sustainability has been adopted as a solution for change and development (C. Hayles. (2004). “The Role of Value Management in the Construction of Sustainable Communities”, The Value Manager [Online], Vol. 10, no. 1, Available: http://www.hkivm.com.hk/publications/04/TVM2004-1.pdf).

Sustainable construction is a process whereby, over time, sustainability is achieved. The concept of sustainability must be applied into construction industry to influence the manner in which a project shall be conducted to strike a balance between conserving the environment and maintaining prosperity in development (G. Ofori, “The environment: The Fourth Construction Project Objective?”, Construction Management and Economics, vol. 10, pp. 369 – 395, 1992).

In 2009 Malaysia  launch its Green Building Index (GBI). Although the country’s green industry is still in its early development, many key participants the country’s real estate starting to recognise that responsibility to adopt building practices and technologies in order to play role in climate change mitigation

The GBI has been modelled international green building rating systems such as USA’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environment Assessment Method)and was jointly developed by the Malaysian Architects and the Association Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM).

The Malaysian government is supporting the drive towards green buildings and green technology and in Budget 2010, it was  announce that the Government give priority to the procurement of goods that are environmentally friendly.

The budget contained the pledge to create a fund of no less than RM1.5 billion to be given as soft loans to companies that supply and utilise green technology.

The government has also granted tax breaks and stamp duty exemptions respectively to building owners obtaining GBI certificates and buyers purchasing buildings with GBI certificates.

Looking ahead, the demand for green buildings to rise as environmental awareness grows and more companies practice of corporate social responsibility, with leading companies at the forefront of the trend increasingly looking space wherever possible.

Another driver is the growing body of evidence demonstrating make financial sense. Studies from mature markets such as

Australia have found that developing green buildings can higher values, fetch higher rents and enjoy higher occupancy non-green buildings.

Making buildings and the construction process sustainable and environmentally friendly needs different inputs and expertise from different stakeholders at different stages of the building lifecycle.

It is crucial that a good and practical strategies and recommendations aimed at promoting more sustainable construction in Malaysia and priority need to be given to educate the stakeholders, developing strategies for environmentally friendly construction materials, energy efficiency in buildings and construction and demolition waste management.

(this article written for 1BINA.my)