More developers keen on green

PETALING JAYA: The submissions of projects for Green Building Index (GBI) certification have jumped substantially in the last six months, indicating the rising interest among developers to build green.

“From August 2010 until February, we received about 60 new registrations, bringing the total to about 150 projects. This is very encouraging as it is the highest number of registrations within a six-month span since GBI was launched in May 2009,” said Paul Lai, chief executive of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM).

GBI is a green rating tool jointly developed by PAM and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (Acem).

Lai believed the collective efforts by the government, professional bodies such as PAM and the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda), non-profit organisations such as the Malaysia Green Building Confederation, developers and the media are beginning to bear fruit.

“I believe people are more aware and conscious of environmental issues and the role they play. As such, more developers are seriously considering getting their projects certified,” said Lai.  

The growing level of interest from developers could be seen in response to the Green Tour organised by Rehda Youth (an informal grouping of young Rehda members) on Tuesday.
Chor (right) strikes the gong to officiate the Rehda Green Tour. With him are Yam (centre) and Tan.
The Green Tour brought participants to visit four green developments in the Klang Valley, namely GTower in Jalan Tun Razak by Goldis Bhd, Challis Damansara in Sunway Damansara by Sunway City Bhd, Ken Bangsar in Bangsar by Ken Holdings Bhd and First Avenue in Bandar Utama by Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd, to enable them to understand and experience the workings behind the developments. Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung officiated at the event.

Calling the response to the tour “tremendous”, Rehda president Datuk Seri Michael Yam said there were more than 170 participants, consisting of developers, consultants and architects.

“In fact, we had to turn away quite a number of people because we do not have enough seats. I think this shows the amount of interest in green developments,” said Yam.

Sam Tan, a Rehda Youth leader and executive director of Ken Holdings Bhd, was not surprised at the response.

“We already knew there are a lot of people interested in green buildings. Contrary to popular belief, building green is not difficult to do. That is the idea behind this tour; to let people know that it is not so difficult to go green,” said Tan.

Mindsets among developers are also changing, Tan said.

“Traditionally, developers don’t share their knowledge. But the industry is starting to look at the bigger picture.

“We need to elevate the standards of our developments if we want to attract foreign investors. And to do that, we need to share our knowledge and learn from one another,” said Tan.

Lai noted that most of the projects seeking GBI certification are from the bigger developers such as S P Setia Bhd and Sunway.

However, “if the big developers’ green projects prove to be successful, the smaller ones will have to follow or they will lose out”, said Lai.

Meanwhile, Tan promised more Green Tours in the future.

“We hope this tour will continue to gain momentum. We already have a few developers asking us to consider including their properties in the next tour and a few are even interested in joining Rehda Youth,” he said.

This article appeared on the Property page, The Edge Financial Daily, March 4, 2011.

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