LOTUS SUSTAINABLE BUILDING ASSESSMENT
The Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Hanoi, is in the last hectic months of preparing its new Lotus Sustainable Building Assessment System for public launch in June. The ongoing, open review process has intensified for the small office of permanent staff, interns, and volunteers. According to Yannick Millet, the Executive Director of the VGBC, “This pilot version release is the final result of a substantial collective work!”
Lotus is the result of the VGBC’s mission to create Green building benchmarks, test them in the marketplace and effectively assist the Ministry of Construction in identifying targets. The VGBC will operate Lotus as an independent and voluntary system.
The World Green Building Council has suggested that rating systems share a common format and basic strategy but aim for localisation. Conceptually Lotus is a bridge between two frameworks. The first, the system of credit groups such as energy and water conservation, sustainable materials and good site strategy, relates to an amalgam of well-established international rating systems. Lotus brings this concept home to Vietnam with the addition of unique credit categories, one addressing Climate Change, in direct response to the country’s extreme vulnerability to sea level rise, tropical storm damage and drought, plus Community and Management credits to bolster particular weaknesses in the local construction industry.
Localisation also appears in the actual credit content. VGBC saw the opportunity to strengthen local codes, sometimes perceived as optional, and at the same time derive benefit from their familiarity. Lotus prerequisites are extracted from the existing body of Vietnam construction regulations. Credits both fill in gaps in the local code and go further than the regulations to propose new targets and benchmarks. By doing this there is a clear way for future building regulations to incorporate these higher targets and incrementally raise the bar for construction in Vietnam.
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Melissa Merryweather has practised architecture in Vietnam for 12 years, with a varied portfolio of small and medium-sized projects, mainly resort and reuse. Prior to Vietnam she ran her award-winning design practice in London specialising in renovation, playgrounds and youth centres with a strong bias towards sustainability.
Last year she launched her company, Green Consult-Asia, to deliver sustainable building methodologies in Vietnam, providing design and certification guidance to architects and developers. Current projects range from universities to the industrial sector.