Construction cost among key challenges of going green

KUALA LUMPUR: Over a year after the launch of Green Building Index (GBI), one of the key challenges of adopting green technology remains the cost of construction, said Boon Che Wee, president of Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM).

Boon attributed it to a "mismatch between demand and supply of green products" as the suppliers and target market are not meeting each other. This has caused developers and contractors to source for green products abroad, which would increase their construction cost.

"That is why we decided to create a Green Hall for this year's ARCHIDEX. We are using the Green Hall as a platform for the two sides to meet. We have suppliers here but the buyers are not aware of them," said Boon during a press conference after the opening ceremony of ARCHIDEX and PAM Convention 2010 on Thursday, July 1.

Boon believed that once more information is exchanged between the suppliers and buyers, the construction cost can be lowered. GBI, a green rating tool developed by PAM and Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) was launched last May and has since received over 80 applications for certification.

The Malaysia Green Building Confederation has embarked on a project to create a green product directory, Green Pages Malaysia, a concept similar to Yellow Pages. Currently, there is no industry-accepted Malaysian standard for accreditation of green products, said Boon.

However, if the product is Malaysia-made, they will have to be sent outside of Malaysia for it to be accredited, he explained.

"Our standards organisation cannot cope at the moment and its focus is more on consumer products rather than green products. We have been talking to the government on how to outsource the accreditation to organisations with proper testing facilities," said Boon.

The response has been encouraging with the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water indicating that it would co-ordinate the search for better accreditation methods.

"If the green product can be tested in Malaysia, that will save cost," added Boon.

Meanwhile, PAM is also working on promoting up-and-coming local architects and urged the government to provide more avenues for these talents to showcase their work.

"We seek to continue to work with the government and its agencies on more strategic cooperation to enhance the visibility of Malaysian architecture worldwide by supporting Malaysian architects' participation in international architectural exhibitions," said Boon in his welcome speech. '

Meanwhile, in a historic collaboration between Malaysian External Trade and Development Corporation (MATRADE) and PAM, Malaysia will participate for the first time in the by-invitation only Venice Architecture Biennale.

Over 20 Malaysian architectural practices, individuals and students from at least two Malaysian architectural schools will exhibit their work for three months starting from August at Venice Architecture Biennale.

PAM also encouraged the government to adopt a visionary, defining and all-embracing Malaysia Architectural Policy (MAP) as a commitment of the government to architecture of excellence and as a role model to the private sector, said Boon.

ARCHIDEX 2010 was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on July 1, 2010 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention center. The event drew 838 booths from eight countries, an increase of 6% in exhibit space and 10% increase in exhibitors.

Running concurrently are DATUM: KL 2010 (International Architectural Design Conference), Kuala Lumpur Design Forum and Green Building Forum. ARCHIDEX 2010, in its eleventh year is held from July 1 to 4.

ARCHIDEX 2010 is jointly organised by PAM and CIS Network Sdn Bhd.
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