Legislative framework key to green technology adoption

KUALA LUMPUR: A legislative framework is key to ensure wide-spread adoption of green technology, said several experts in the field.

The low cost of energy imposed in this country also does not motivate consumers and developers to adopt green measures, said Matthias Gelber, co-founder of Maleki Green Building Products, a company that specialises in the production of high performance low carbon footprint materials for use in green buildings.

Gelber cited China as an example of how legislation can push the green movement further. "The Chinese government has set a central legislation that incorporated energy efficiency and insulation features and practices. It's happening in China because developers have to do it by law. In Malaysia, it is still very much voluntary driven," said Gelber during a roundtable at the Green Solutions for Property Development conference on May 17.

Architect Jason Pomerory from UK-based Broadway Malyan concurred, "We are increasingly seeing legislation such as the UK Tariff Change Act 2008 to ensure a greener future in the UK. The UK public is very aware of the danger of climate change. There is a growth in understanding on the need to reduce energy consumption".

The UK Tariff Change Act 2008 has targeted a carbon emission reduction of 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. For all new built, they must be zero carbon by 2016 while non-domestic buildings must increase its energy efficiency and reduce carbon emission by 13 in 2019.

"The UK has all the key performance indicators set up to spur the adoption of green technology for both consumers and property developers. The question is whether we can do the same?" asked Datuk Michael Yam, the deputy president of the Malaysian Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA).

Margaret Tan, senior executive director of Price Waterhouse Coopers however said there have been mixed signals from developers as some felt that there are not enough benefits and incentives for them to take on a green project. “It might be good for the government to give a stimulus package for developers to push them to develop more green buildings," she suggested.

However, Dr. Tan Loke Mun, immediate past president of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) and chairman of PAM sustainbility committee believes that legislation is the way to go. He explained, "We are running out of time. If you keep giving incentives, people in the industry will still complain that the incentives are not good enough. Some of the incentives for green technology such as energy efficiency have been around for eight years or more. But because of the complexity of the process and lack of understand of its benefits, it has been largely ignored by the industry. That is why a legislation will help in the long run especially when the subsidy are removed."

According to Badriyah Abuld Malek, a representative from the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA), the government subsidises 38% of residential electricity tariff.
"Where is the business sense in this? We have to restructure our energy industry towards market price and we have to move out of our subsidy mode. We have to be diligent in using our energy, managing our resources, and ensuring our energy security," said Badriyah.

Asking for more incentives reflects a subsidy mentality, said Badriyah. "While it's true that building a green building is costlier but if you look at the long term maintenance of a green building, the cost is much lower. That should be enough incentive for developers to adopt green technology. You can't keep asking for more and more from the government," she said.

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