How Lucrative is Vietnam’s Green Construction Market? | Green Consult-Asia | Melissa Merryweather

Melissa Merryweather

Vietnam’s green building industry is currently still in infancy compared to other Asian countries. Incorrect information about the cost and benefits of green construction is disseminated among architects, engineers and clients. Local and foreign green construction materials suppliers exist, but foreign companies have more keen demand towards green building.

Would it be actually lucrative to build green and invest in green business within Vietnamese market? Melissa Merryweather, the Director of Green Consult-Asia, shares her thought on the current overview and opportunities in Vietnam’s green construction market.

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How would you briefly describe the current situation in the Vietnamese green building market?

Melissa Merryweather (MM): I think it’s been a difficult market to start in because there is a very poor level of information about green building. We are seeing very clearly that the lack of correct information as the absolute number one hindrance. Architects, engineers and clients are told that green building will cost 25% more – which is ridiculous and leads to disseminated information. Accurate information is the most important thing. However, now that some companies and some suppliers are getting better information, the market is seemingly starting to change.

What edge does the current Vietnam market have to potentially excel in the green buildings industry?

MM: I think the unique situation in Vietnam is that there are a lot of manufacturers moving to Vietnam. Manufacturers which were mainly positioning in China now start to diversify and have part of the production in Vietnam, giving a fairly strong growth opportunity in our industrial development.

There is a strong international demand to satisfy sustainable objective, both in terms of the making of the products, and how the products are made. Some questions are getting common : are the workers comfortable? Do they have good temperature due to good ventilation and daylight provision? Etc.

In Vietnam, we are now seeing a certain amount of pushing from the suppliers of clients. Several foreign companies that don’t have any factories in Vietnam would ask their suppliers to comply with a set of objectives, and this can eventually spur the sustainable market.

On the other hand, price also serves as a driving force. Suppliers which are looking for increase of wages in Vietnam can keep their cost down by mitigating the cost of energy and water. This said, sustainability works for the industrial uses in many ways.

How are the local players currently performing in the Vietnamese green building market?

MM: First of all, I think there are a lot of local suppliers in Vietnam, but it depends on what kind of products you are looking at. If you’re looking at the basic materials, we’ve already gotten active productions at the local level in things like cement, steel, or concrete block. Steel reinforcement roads for example, they are almost all made by Vietnamese companies and 100% recycled. Aerated concrete block is another example – the first companies were probably foreign, yet now there are a lot of local companies producing aerated concrete blocks.

But if you are looking at the high technology products like energy metering and water metering, the local players are not yet active in the market. Vietnam has not gotten its feet on the high tech metering solution industry, yet.

How is the media’s role in overcoming the lack of knowledge about green building in Vietnam?

MM: I think the media could play a very valuable role, but so far it has not. Obviously when the biggest hindrance is the lack of correct information, the media could be playing a very valuable role of researching – finding out what’s right to then disseminate that correct information. Sometimes I see good stories getting through, but quite often it’s just repeating the wrong information. The media hasn’t really looked to find out the truth – for certain questions, they tend to be very respectful of people who give them information and not necessarily question that information.

How is the growth of renovation demands towards green certification in Vietnam?

MM: There is not a lot of renovation going on in Vietnam, because usually the buildings here are knocked down and built up again. However, there are a lot of buildings that weren’t built very well and would be expensive to knock down and rebuild, so I think we’ll see more renovations going on in the next decade.

Renovation gives a really unique chance for investors, because if they understand how their building is used, what the problems are with their building, how much energy and water they’re using – and if they can analyze those data, they can reach a decision to improve their building performance.

So, the big questions are going to be: can owners have enough information about their buildings? Can the specialists or design consultants have information to analyze? And can they propose the good solutions? What we now see here is a very big lack of information. Renovations can show the way to a lot of improvements, but I think we initially need the required data in order to understand how much improvement and how we can improve effectively.

Do you think there still needs to be another green buildings certification other than LOTUS in Vietnam? Why?

MM: There is absolutely no reason of why there should be another certification  system in Vietnam. Developing another certification system would only be confusing. If people start trying to develop another system, it’s just going to divide the number of people who actually use one system or another, and that’s bad for the future. Because what people want when they certify their building is to have certainty that the label is going to be around in ten years time, and that their building certification is going to have good standing. So two, three, or four certification systems will only ruin the confidence the people have in the product.

My chief experience is that LOTUS really serves the projects really well. Some people thought it was too complicated, but I think it compares well with international certification. And for LOTUS to be equal to the international certification is important in order to gain respect from the market.

Although there might be a chance later to develop a LOTUS Lite or such, but it’s not what the people currently want nor need. What we need to do now is have a strong interest in the local certification system, have more people signing on, have more users, and then develop it so that it really works for the Vietnamese clients and consultants. We need more people using it, that’s all.

 

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About the Green Consult-Asia:

Green Consult-Asia is the first company operating in Vietnam to offer professional consulting services exclusively for the green building market.

Website: www.greenconsult-asia.com

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