Green building towards energy efficiency incentives in Asia | Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project | Kevin Hor

20910631502_3227916d32_c3The trend towards the rapid adoption green building practices in Asia is largely attributable to government initative and incentives. While the practice of green building in Asia is still growing, much evidence  points in the direction that given long term energy efficiency and environmental benefits. Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project objective is the improvement of the energy utilization efficiency based in Malaysian buildings by promoting the energy conserving design of new buildings and by improving the energy utilization efficiency in the operation of existing buildings.

Ir. Kevin Hor, The National Project Manager, Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project, addresses exclusively to AsiaGreenBuildings about some of Asia best green building and energy efficiency incentives and the impact to the industry, the energy efficient building current and upcoming trends in Asia, the challenges in the  sustainable and visual  attractiveness design for achieving optimal balance and the Asia government support for the green building industry development.


Can you share some of the best green building & energy efficiency incentives in Asia and how they have impacted the industry?

Thailand under its energy conservation (ENCON) fund has one of the best green building incentives in Asia which is the Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF). It carries the general principal of the Revolving Fund in which the revenue generated via repaid loans is used for issuing new loans. This fund structure is sustainable as it ensures a consistent inflow and outflow of the capital for funding energy efficiency measures.

With 294 projects carried under EERF,the approximate total for overall projects’ financial savings is estimated to be 177 million USD per year with the expected energy savings around 3721.6 GWh per year and emissions reductions of about 1 million tons CO2 per year.

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) also has introduced one of the best green building incentives, which is the Green Mark Gross Floor Area Incentive Scheme (GMIS-GFA) that is associated to the Green Mark Incentives. This is one of the way to support the government’s target of greening 80% of its building by 2030.

The scheme encourages private sector to develop buildings in Green Mark Platinum* or Green Mark Gold* standard in a way that it grants additional floor surface above master Plan Gross Plot Ratio (GPR) control.

What are the current and upcoming trends in the energy efficient building practices in Asia?

The most common trend in energy efficiency in building today is the replacement of conventional lighting with LED lights – which is efficient in energy consumption. This is followed by replacement of old chillers or refrigerator and air conditioners with newer models with energy efficiency specifications.

Inverters appliances are hot in the market now and it is expected to grow even bigger.

The conversion to eco driven lifestyle lead urbanites to the correct energy efficiency path when they are more prudent in energy management. You can see efforts like the usage of air-conditioners at office buildings only within 9-5, households start to practice switching off the main switch of the unused electrical appliances, using the timer for fans and air conditioners as well as putting their electrical appliances into the eco-mode.

With a better awareness programs related to energy efficiency in buildings and the understanding of how important energy sustainability is, it is expected that holistic approach towards including daylight harvesting system will be the next hit in the EE’s world.

Are the best energy efficient practices always limited & associated to the use of most advanced tech? Can you share some examples?

The best energy efficiency practices are free as you are referring to the conventional way of energy saving. It doesn’t involve any cent for you shut off electrical appliances that you do not use or depends on the daylight in the office rather than the conventional lights. However, to support energy efficiency you might need certain specification for your building/home. This can be limited in that sense that architects must be well educated in designing a building that meets the green building specifications and must be smart to adapt those specifications in their design so that it won’t affect its visual attractiveness.

Having a good building maintenance can lead to a much better energy management and this doesn’t involve advance technology at all. However the limitation is always the awareness of the occupants. For instance, occupants tend to open the window when they feel cold, that leads to more energy consumption, when they can just inform the maintenance reps to increase the temperature of the air-conditioners. When this is alerted, maintenance should know that there is temperature sensor or control management failure that needs to be fixed.

What consumers should know is the specification of the product that they want to purchase – whether or not it is energy efficient.

When it comes to building, the trick is always the design that meet the energy efficiency specifications. A well-designed building for energy efficiency may actually cost less than a normal building The only limitation is, consumers tend to go for visual attractiveness first and look for other specification next.

What are the challenges in achieving the optimal balance of visual attractiveness and sustainability of a building at the same time?

The biggest challenge is knowing the commitment of achieving the green building status from the very beginning. Before the construction process itself, developers should understand the cost to build the building as well as to sustain or maintain it. They should know that there are certain criteria or designs that suit best with the green status and aware that it will cost even more than the normal building. However the building owners/operators will save much more in energy costs with gradually future reduction of energy subsidies which will increase electricity tariff throughout the buildings’ lifecycle in the long run.

When it comes to sustainability, the awareness to all occupants could be the biggest challenge of all.

They must be aware that one of the target in running the green building is to save the energy. Here comes another challenge in terms of sustainability – to identify how far do the building owner/operator needs or willing to go when it comes to energy consumption because comparing to the core business, the cost of energy is too little. Therefore, sustainable energy management for green buildings must have strong business case that will have to consider energy and non-energy benefits to assist decision makers in making their business decisions that will require on going future commitment.

How do you advise the building operators/owners to maintain the green performance of a building?

Firstly, building operators/owners must have a proper structured system to manage it. Everyone in the system must understand the objective of the green building certification as this will enable people to play their role well to ensure the standard that they have reached is sustained.

Secondly, the people who manage the system must pay attention to how well their people manage their roles and must efforts to clearly define and explain that roles to each level of employees from the management to operational groups.

 Thirdly, building owners/operators must know well the type of benchmark for the performance for the buildings and check the energy performance indicator(s) and targets that they have set for the management system they have adopted.

 There is no point of complying the standard requirements for certification purpose but you are not able to sustain its green-ability by efficiently utilizing natural resources such as energy and water for the buildings.

More importantly, the main purpose of the certification is to give positive impacts to the overall business or monetary performance of the organizations for investments and commitment made to be green in their existing and future operations.

How do you see the governments in Asia support the transformation of the green building industry ?

 Notable successes related to the transformation of the green building industry are happening in some of the East Asian economies and are reflected in the floor area that has become certified to some form of green building rating.

 The latest report from the US LEEDS shows that China (21.97 million Gross Square Metres – GSM) and India (13.24 million GSM) finished second and third on the international ranking for LEEDS 2015. China and India represent the largest source of projected growth in global emissions in the coming decades. .

 Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore are also catching up to meet the certification of the green building although the number of buildings and gross floor areas considered as green are only a small fraction of the total building stock.

 This shows that government has started to take action, even there’s much more to do promptly to avoid carbon lock-in of poorly designed buildings that will skew the emissions profile for decades to come.Considering the volume of the building industry and the achievements, thus is far-fetch, it is apparent that for the green building to be accepted as a way of life, it needs to be infused into the mainstream vernacular more rather than being a buzz within the building industry only.

 Another aspect of governance that is perhaps as challenging as ensuring compliance is the engagement of the different segments of society with their diverse communication needs. Governments in Asia must learn to work with consumer analysts to develop campaigns to penetrate awareness with the need to live and work in the green certified buildings.


This exclusive interview is facilitated under a Media Partnership with the upcoming Green Buildings & Parks world 2015, at which Ir. Kevin Hor is a speaker.


About United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)

As the leading global organization in the fight against poverty with a presence in 177 countries and territories, UNDP is responding on the front lines of climate change – where it hits the world’s 2.6 billion poorest people the hardest. UNDP works with national, regional, and local planning bodies to help them respond effectively to climate change and promote low-emission, climate-resilient development. This map portrays UNDP’s climate change project portfolio with data at the individual project level – we invite you to explore UNDP’s work for a sustainable future.

About Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project

The project objective is the improvement of the energy utilization efficiency in Malaysian buildings, particularly those in the commercial and government sectors, by promoting the energy conserving design of new buildings and by improving the energy utilization efficiency in the operation of existing buildings.

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