Greenstyle living is not about living in a jungle or a world full of green parks, consuming a vegetarian diet and resorting to extreme living standards. All around us, there are practical ways to save money and live a sustainable life, lead meaningful lives, enjoy good health, and be surrounded in an eco-friendly environment – all the while limiting the impacts of pollution. The built environment has profound effects on human health and the world around us. Designing a ‘green building’ involves considering a multitude factor. The eco-friendly buildings and communities are powerful promoters of health and well-being.
Matthias Gelber, dubbed as ‘greenest person’ on the planet, expresses his insights exclusively with AsiaGreenBuildings on how he envision human’s habits in terms of the green building sector, Asia’s role in sustainability movement, Asia’s biggest challenges on implementing the green habit, Negawattrevolution transformation in Asia, and lastly the approach to improve the implementation of green movement in the sustainability sector.
How do you envision human’s habits to give major improvement for the green building sector ?
They get the architect to do the design, guide them and try to add more green – and this becomes very expensive. So it reinforces the message with the developers and end users that green is expensive, and this is what we need to avoid.
Green can actually be cost-effective, we need as well have more appreciation from end-users and more demand towards real green features of buildings that are tangible from the end-users.
We need to focus on tangible things like giving people a product where they can live comfortably without the need for AC, giving people a product with no VOC, no toxic solvents, no real air contamination, so people need not worry about the health. So I think we need to grow those kind of demands and habits, then get the developers to focus on it.
At which stage is the Asian region currently standing in terms of sustainability movement ?
The Asian region is making a good progress and here again the green building certification has been one of the drivers.
We need a whole new generation with the focus on education, school and colleges, and practicing society so we can really move towards sustainability. Then we need policies that focus on growing the economy with sustainability principles where we count as well the cost of treating mother nature in the right way.
What is the biggest challenge you had encountered and tackled with regards to implementing the green habit in Asia ?
I have already eluded to the fact that there is a lack of growing up with green habits in family and its education system. There is also a perception that green is expensive.
The opposite is true when you do the green holistically when you don’t buy things that you don’t need, when you focus on reducing electricity bills, when you use public transport instead of a car – hence you can save huge amount of money.
Can you explain about Negawattrevolution and what kind of transformation it seeks to undergo esp. in Asia?
Negawatt revolution is all about our ability to save electricity, money and the planet at the same time.
So the transformation I’m looking at is that people consciously start looking at the electricity bills. The great thing is everybody gets the electricity bills every month so it’s very straight forward, to actually look at what you’re improving or not.
Asians on average consume about 40% more electricity. And there is a big opportunity because every kilowatt of our electricity is equivalent to 0.747 kg of CO2. So we can help ourselves to have more money available by reducing our electricity bills. We can also help the planet as well as the country by reducing the need to fund for power plants. This will have massive economic benefit because we don’t need to tie money up inefficiency.
What approach do you take to improve the implementation of green movement in sustainability sector ?
I would love to inspire people to select homes that they buy or rent by green criteria. Go at 8 o’clock in the evening without air con on and check if a building is cool enough to live in comfortably without AC. If it’s not, don’t rent it.
It’s a consumer-driven power. I think we should also avoid noisy places, those that have no green spaces, and those that are not conveniently linked to public transport. Those are some of the other criteria that we should be looking at in terms of making our consumer choice. So I hope that consumers can empower themselves to choose green solutions by making a change in the construction industry.
This exclusive interview is facilitated under a Media Partnership with the Green Buildings & Parks world 2015, at which Matthias Gelber was a speaker.
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