Eager for the Green Mark

ONLY 39 buildings made the mark last year. But just two weeks into 2008, nearly 120 building projects, both private and public, are lined up and eager for a Green Mark rating.

The idea of building sustainability is gaining acceptance among industry players and builders, even as need and legislation are providing the added impetus.

“So far, over 70 buildings have been Green-Mark-certified, and many more are in the pipeline for assessment. This is an encouraging sign,” said Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman yesterday, even as he announced even more good news: New construction demand is expected to reach between $23 billion and $27 billion this year.

The bulk of this is expected to come from private residential and commercial developments, while public sector housing, amenities and infrastructure projects will also add to demand. This buoyant period is also a time to look forward to the industry’s environmental responsibilities, Dr Maliki said at the Construction and Property Prospects 2008 Seminar.

When the Building Control Act takes effect in a few months, all new buildings and existing ones undergoing major retrofitting will have to meet Green Mark standards. Green Mark Platinum buildings would have achieved 30-per-cent energy efficiency, and a basic Green Mark building at least 10-per-cent energy efficiency, said Building and Construction Authority (BCA) chief executive John Keung.

Meanwhile, to promote sustainable construction, the BCA will introduce new guidelines this month for the usage of high-strength concrete, while guidebooks on the use of steel and of recycled materials in building will also be launched soon.

A “wake-up call” came early last year, in the form of disruption to sand and granite supply that had “some developers exploring sustainable designs, using alternative or recycled construction materials,” said Dr Keung.

And now — a year since Indonesia banned the export of concreting sand — Dr Maliki announced the BCA’s assistance scheme to co-share the risk of bringing in sand from distant sources would be “discontinued”.

“Concrete prices stabilised quickly after an initial spike and the construction boom last year was hardly affected … Based on feedback from the industry, the scheme is no longer necessary,” he said.

But to ensure the long-term supply and quality of essential construction materials, the BCA is finalising details of a licensing scheme for importers.

Source : Today – 16 Jan 2008

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