Implementing Green Building Practices in Asia, the Architects’ Way | AEDAS | Benny Chow

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Whilst the development of green building in Asia is going at the fast pace, the challenges in implementing its practices still proliferate across the region. The cost-benefit analysis for assessing the economic efficiency in a green building project is translated as one of the difficulties faced by the architects as the market perceives and associates it with higher initial cost and extra investment on resources. The lack of data on sustainability and return on investment (ROI) makes it even more challenging since the life cycle assessment data are not widely accessible.

On this exclusive interview with AsiaGreenBuildings, Dr. Benny Chow – the Director of Sustainability at AEDAS, shares his thoughts on how Asia’s green building projects are usually carried out – the existing challenges during projects, some effectively applicable yet underrated green architectural innovations in the market, and more.


What was the biggest challenge you had encountered and tackled with regards to implementing the green practices in Asia?

One of the biggest challenges on implementing green building projects are on the cost-benefit analysis for assessing the economic efficiency.

Green buildings always associate with higher initial cost and extra investment on resources, including the upgrade of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, procurement of more sustainable building materials, installation of renewable energy system, etc. However, a more energy-efficient HVAC system will reduce the operational cost.

From the statistics of the China green building development, the averaged extra investment cost of the 1-Star (Silver level) green building is around RMB 30 per square meter, and the 2-Star (Gold level) and 3-Star (Platinum level) are RMB 140 per sqm and RMB 160 per sqm respectively.  It involves a huge investment and the whole building lifecycle analysis is necessary, in order to make the right choice for sustainable future.

Another major challenge in implementing green building projects in Asia is the lack of data on Sustainability and the ROI. Life cycle analysis and assessment data are not widely accessible. Private sector developments in Asia are in very difficult situation on determining the amount of capital cost should invest on specific green building features and the return of direct or indirect benefits towards sustainable development.

Measurement and Verification (M&V) is the process to bridge and visualize the performance gap shifting from green design to delivering and verifying sustainability aspirations. Center Business Districts (CBD) are emerging as leaders in implementing city-wide energy management and reporting frameworks, like London and Shanghai.

What is the green architectural innovations you consider as effectively applicable yet relatively underrated in the Asian region?

Building Performance Simulation and Analysis during early design stage becoming accessible in Asia countries. Aedas, one of the top architectural practices, is leading a Research and Development (R&D) on Sustainability and Green BIM. The Green BIM platform provides a comprehensive green building features analysis tools to evaluate and estimate the building performance even in concept design stage. A rule of thumb, more than 80% of the whole building design decision will be made during the early 20% of the design stage. It is critical to carry out building performance simulations, including solar analysis for building envelope design, energy efficient analysis for building life cycle analysis, daylight factor analysis for interior visual comfort, etc.

Do you think green building practices always come at the expense of the adoption of traditional architectural methods? Why?

Government and public sectors are leading the development of green building practices. The standard of traditional architectural design and construction are emerging rapidly to the adoption of prevailing green building standard. The market is transforming. The trend is green building practices will soon becoming the pseudo standard in practice. Eventually, the traditional architectural method will be fully adapted to the green building practice.

Which Asian countries are currently outperforming other in the region, in terms of the advancement of the green architectural practices? Are China and Singapore fairly deemed as the vanguard — and will it last that way for the next decade?

Both China and Singapore governments have put a huge amount of effort into green building development, in terms of policy support and incentive to the building and construction industries.

China’s 3-Star Green Building Rating System (GB 50378-2006) is a national standard to support the development of green building and providing incentive to the full certified development.

The BCA Green Mark scheme is Singapore launched in 2005.  We are witnessing a huge success on green buildings and sustainable development with this top-down approach.


More about AEDAS :

AEDAS is an international architectural firm providing architecture, interior design, building consultancy, research and development, imaging, urban design and master planning, and landscape design services. The company’s commitment to address environmental, social and economic challenges through design excellence is central to the practice ethos – they provide specialist consultancy services to advise their clients on the implementation of sustainable design from briefing and master planning to concept design, procurement and building management with Post Occupancy Evaluations being offered.

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