Sustainable Building

Green Building Design and Green Building Activity in South East Asia

Over the last decade South East Asia has seen significant acceleration in the adoption of sustainable construction and green building design practices. Concerns around environmental degradation and notional energy security have provided countries like Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with enough incentive to establish their own set of sustainability principles.

This is evident when looking back to 2002, the World Green Business Council (WGBC), was established with 8 members none of which were from Asia. By 2014, a total of 100 nations has signed up, 18 of which are from the Asia Pacific region.

In Hong Kong, the Green Building Council established the BEAM Plus rating system in 2010. An astonishing 832 building projects have been registered since then. Singapore is another leading nation in South East Asia. Their commitment to fostering the continuous evolution of green architecture has led to the certification of 1 534 new buildings and 215 existing buildings between 2005 and 2014.

In this article we will take a closer look at the state of green building design in Asia and the factors that influence this ever growing market. The research data is taken from the Green Building Market Report on South East Asia and World Green Building Trends 2016 both of which you can download here:

Green Building Participation


The trend is pretty clear, involvement in green building design and sustainable building projects is on the rise and looks like it has no intention of slowing down in the near future. Countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, India and China are leading the way. Between 2008 and 2018 participation in Hong Kong had increased from 45% to 83%.

While the report from Dodge Data & Analytics shows the firm that engage in green building practices in 60% or more of their projects will increase from 5% to 28% in China and from 20% to 52% in India by 2018.



Future Green Building Activity


Globally the sectors that present the highest future growth are commercial and office developments, institutional developments like schools, hospitals and government buildings and residential developments.


The data shows that there are marginal differences between countries as to which sector shows the most promise for future growth. Singapore and Malaysia, show a preference in the commercial and office development sector, while Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam indicate that the sector with the most potential is education.  In the Philippines, the focus shifted completely to residential developments.


Triggers for Green Building Involvement


Triggers for increased involvement in green building projects can range from regulatory pressure, client demand, market demand, environmental factors and a host of others. Both reports have yielded similar factors but it is interesting to note the varying degrees of each factor reported in both. World Green Building Trends reports that client demand (40%) and environment regulations (35%) are the two largest driver’s globally with lower operating costs coming in firmly in the middle of the pack at 23%.


The Green Building Market Report states that helping to reduce environmental impact and achieve lower lifecycle costs as the main driving forces behind go green. The ratings for the various reasons for getting involved in green building design and practice do show slight variations between countries but generally are reasonably consistent with the overall results.


Challenges to Increased Green Building Activity



There are many challenges that slow increased activity in sustainable buildings such as lack of market demand, lack of trained professionals, lack of political support, increased cost of certification and research costs to name a few. There seemed to be consensus on the top inhibiting factor which was higher cost. Perceived or real both reports found that higher costs took the top spot. The positive sign with this is that Dodge Data reports that since 2008 the percentage of people who consider the perceived higher cost to be the main deterrent has decreased from 80% to 50% in 2015.

This overall pattern was largely reflected in the responses by respondent role although owners and developers were particularly sensitive to the extra materials costs and contractors showed concern for the costs attributable to training in green building techniques.


Business Benefits Attributed to Green Building


When it comes to business benefits of going green the focus is mainly on the reduction of life-cycle costs, increased marketability and higher building values. A major driving force behind the commercial adoption of green building practices is the substantial reduction in operating cost.  Rain water catchments, water recycling, more energy efficient HVAC systems like radiant cooling, renewable energy generation all help to significantly reduce the cost of operations.


In Hong Kong and the Philippines, most respondents indicated operational cost savings of between 10% and 15% while in the Thailand a majority of the respondents indicated savings of 20% or more.


Pushing for Sustainability


It is clear to see that the future of building sustainable, energy efficient buildings in Asia is bright. Owners, architects, regulators and the public will keep pushing the envelope in building design and construction to create buildings that don’t only fulfil their purpose but enhance the place and community within which they exist.

Each year sustainability adoption rates increase and that is met with a decrease in the price of solar panels, radiant cooling systems and building management systems. As these technologies become even more affordable the adoption rates will increase and eventually sustainable construction principles will become the norm.

Architects, engineers and owners need to understand the challenges that face green buildings and garner a better understanding of the technology available to them, in order to ensure green building projects deliver on their sustainability and cost-saving goals.



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