FuturArc Monthly News Roundup
May 2014 News Roundup
Green building developments in the region
Hong Kong: Green sites earmarked for homes covered with trees
Research by environmental group Green Sense revealed that the land that was set aside for rezoning to build residential housing are covered with trees, going against what was previously claimed by the government that the sites were “devegetated” and “deserted”. In at least 30 of the sites identified, including Tai Po, Southern District and Tuen Mun, trees were found to be in abundance.
A policy for rezoning was proposed by the Hong Kong government in January 2014. The policy included plans to convert about 50 plots of green-belt land—sites left vacant to mark the boundary between the city and the countryside—as part of a drive to build 470,000 public and private flats in Hong Kong in the next decade. A total of 152 sites in 16 districts will be rezoned under the proposal for the building of 210,000 public and private flats.
The rezoning of Green sites led to unhappy residents living in areas identified to be rezoned. Developers have also become more cautious when bidding for land, as constant rezoning leads to instability in land prices. i
Austrade to assist Indonesia’s potential for sustainable development
Indonesia can rise above the West when it comes to sustainable development, according to Chris Tanner, principal engineer of Brisbane firm, Bligh Tanner. Tanner is also a part of the Austrade Green building-focused trade mission, which has been facilitating opportunities for Australia to assist Indonesia in developing their Green building sector.
The country has been progressive in terms of energy efficiency, partly a matter of necessity due to limited energy infrastructure. The expansion of private developments will also provide opportunities for retrofitting microgrids and decentralising water systems. Since mid-2013, the government has introduced new environmental building guidelines for the greater Jakarta area.
Despite the Green potential, there are challenges to sustainable development in Indonesia, particularly the absence of water infrastructure. This is owing to the lack of investment and the practical difficulties involved in retrofitting pipework through large, highly developed cities. Other obstacles include lack of communication between industries involved in the water supply; deforestation, which creates muddy water supply, thus making it difficult for water to be treated; and a culture of reluctance to consider using treated wastewater. The Green building sector can nonetheless still thrive if it starts adopting and innovating approaches and technologies that have worked in developed countries. ii
Malaysia: Sarawak to develop more Green spaces
Sarawak plans to gazette more nature parks near or within town centres to add to the eight parks it already has in the state. One urban park soon to be developed is the RM40-million Miri Central Park that will help transform Miri into a liveable resort city. The park aims to become a popular residential place for residents and visitors. It will not only be an urban park, but also an important venue for cultural, festive and entertainment events throughout the year. Upon completion, it will encompass a three-mile network of paths and walkways lined with trees and landscaping, creating an environment ideal for walking, jogging and cycling. A 500-yard seafront will draw visitors close to the water and provide room for water activities. The presence of a large family playground will make the park conducive for family gatherings, while an amphitheatre will facilitate the hosting of events. The installation of night lights will also extend the use of the park even after dark. iii
Other upcoming plans in Sarawak include the Piasau Nature Park project, which will transform the Piasau Camp into an 88-hectare nature reserve and a Green lung area in Sibu. The setting up of nature reserves and parks is part of the government’s nature conservation efforts and to encourage outdoor activities among urban residents in the state. iv
Philippine Green Building Council chides government plan to rate buildings
The Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC) has questioned the initiative to leave building ratings and certifications to the Philippine government. This was following the proposal made by the Public Works Department to make Green building practices mandatory under the National Building Code.
In voicing their concerns, the PhilGBC cited the example of hotel ratings, which are done by a private sector group instead of the Department of Tourism. International Green building rating systems such as LEED and BREEAM are similarly managed by non-profit Green building councils. In Philippines, the PhilGBC has developed the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) rating system while another group, the Philippine Green Building Initiative, Inc., (PGBI) has established its own system, Geared for Resiliency and Energy Efficiency for the Environment (GREEEN).
The PhilGBC has argued that the involvement of the government in Green building ratings makes little commercial sense and will likely increase costs for the industry. However, the government sees this as an opportunity for buildings in the Philippines to comply with Green building standards. v
Thailand’s first solar rooftop on a commercial building
Thailand’s first solar rooftop on a commercial building was launched on the Bang Na-Trat Highway. A joint venture between WHA Corporation PLC and Gunkul Engineering PLC, the solar rooftop has a total capacity of 4.2 MW and costs 270 million baht to build. The first 3.3 MW began operations in early May and the remaining 0.97 MW will do so in the second half of the year. Electricity from the solar modules is sold to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority with a feed-in-tariff rate of 6.16 baht per kilowatt-hour for 25 years. The project is expected to earn 40 million baht in revenue in the first full year of operation. vi
China to see new training and R&D centre set up by BRE
The UK construction firm Building Research Establishment (BRE) has signed a deal with the Shenzhen Municipal Government to set up a new training and R&D centre in the city. The centre will provide training for the Green building sector in China and will be a platform to promote BRE’s services, including BREEAM, a Green building certification. The move could see more construction projects in China built to BREEAM standards. BRE China aims to certify over 1000 buildings in the country, which could generate £10 million in revenue and create up to £200 million of work for UK firms. This centre could also assist in increasing collaboration between British and Chinese companies on Green products, expertise and buildings. vii
Taiwan: Taichung Park wins public infrastructure award
Taichung’s Qiuhong Valley Landscape Park took away the top prize for public infrastructure at the 65th International Real Estate Foundation (FIABCI) World Congress held in Luxembourg. Opened in 2012, the 30,000-square metre park sits in the middle of Taiwan’s most populous city and off one of the metropolis’ busiest roads, acting as a Green lung for the city of 2.7 million people.
Designed as a landscaped park and arts venue, the park was built on a massive hole left empty by a failed conference centre project. Owing to its unique site, it was billed as the first large-scale concave park in an Asian city, allowing it to stand out from the rest of the entries in the competition. This award is a third win for Taichung city in the event. viii
Dubai to spend AED 6 billion to become Green paradise by 2025
The Dubai Municipality has set aside AED 6 billion for soft landscaping and expansion of sewer lines and an irrigation network to transform the city into a Green paradise by 2025. AED 3 billion will be spent on improving the irrigation system, as water is a crucial aspect in sustainable development. In a bid to reach the 2025 goal, Dubai will see a 10-percent increase in the planting of flower plants, more investment towards landscaping services throughout the city, and an addition of 20 to 30 small park projects. Discussion is in the works for a new legislation, which would mandate the private sector—mainly large developers and private property owners—to share the responsibility of developing the emirate’s Green areas. This would make it compulsory for them to include Green areas in private projects, although concerns have been raised that it may overburden the private sector. ix
USGBC names top 10 countries for LEED outside the US
The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has released a list of the top 10 countries for LEED outside the US. Countries in Asia made a good showing, with China and India taking the second and third place respectively, followed by South Korea in fourth and Taiwan in fifth. Singapore was in the eighth position. Canada took up the top spot.
The ranking is based on the gross square metres (GSM) of LEED-certified space, the total GSM of LEED-certified and -registered space, and total number of LEED-certified and -registered projects. The LEED system provides guidelines for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of Green buildings. According to the USGBC, the strong showing outside the US has illustrated the global adaptability of the LEED system. More than 140 countries across the global have participated in the Green building certification programme since its launch. x
The top 10 rankings are as follows:
Text by Ho Pei Ying