Greener constructions gain popularity for sparing costs


Establishing itself on a global scale at the turn of the century, the eco-friendly movement has become a worldwide trend in just over its first decade. Businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and using this new trend to make profits.

Director for training and education at the Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) Rana Yusuf Nasir says the green movement has become more than just a marketing gimmick.

The movement has attracted businesspeople wanting to cut costs.

Rana said the building sector had the greatest potential of any other sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for climate change.

“Turning buildings, either new or existing ones, into green buildings not only makes them more environmentally friendly, but also makes them more profitable.

“Green buildings satisfy clients and that means more profit. But more importantly, green buildings cut costs. That too means more profit,” Rana said in Jakarta.

The GBCI, which is a member of the Toronto-based World Green Building Council with 102 member countries, is a non-profit organization that educates people on implementing green practices and facilitating the transformation of the global construction industry into a sustainable one.

Rana said the green approach to construction and property development could be applied in almost all aspects of building.

Many developers are still hesitant about constructing buildings with a green approach, arguing that such buildings are more expensive to build.

“It is true that greener buildings cost more to construct, but they save more money in the long term,” he said.

By spending a few percentage points more to use the green approach for construction, the building could cut almost half of its energy spending in the long term, he said.

Architecture and urban policy expert Nirwono Yoga said additional efforts were needed to construct green buildings, including the preparation of designs and materials, the transportation of materials and construction development.

He estimated that sustainable construction required a budget boost of some 15 to 30 percent — but the extra funds would be worth it over the long term.

Currently, the council has worked with the Jakarta administration to produce a green-building rating tool to evaluate sustainable building plans and the construction of buildings in the capital.

The council’s Greenship rating system evaluates six criteria: appropriate site development rate, energy efficiency and refrigeration rate, water conservation rate, material resources and cycle rate, indoor air health and comfort rate and building and environment management rate.

To date, the council has awarded 10 Greenship certificates — six of them to newly developed buildings and four to existing buildings.

More than 70 buildings in Jakarta and other cities across the archipelago have applied and been examined to see if they will receive the Greenship certificate.

Among the certified green buildings are the BCA Tower, Sampoerna Strategic Square and the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry complex in Jakarta.

Green building concepts can be applied to both new and old buildings.

“As a matter of fact, it is the existing buildings that concern us more. Of around 800 high-rise buildings in Jakarta, only about a dozen of them were recently built,” Rana said.

It may be very costly to retrofit old buildings with green building methods, but there are low cost — in some cases, even no cost — options to make the buildings greener.

“Reducing the overall thermal transfer value [OTTV] takes a big investment. Old building owners rarely explore this option,” Rana said, referring to the amount of heat that penetrates into the building.

“What they can do, however, is rightsizing,” he added.

Existing buildings can apply green concepts through energy management, periodic energy audits, periodic tuning of installation and proper operation and maintenance.

Air conditioning installation, for example, was the largest energy user in a building, around 55 percent, he said.

Unfortunately, in most existing buildings, owners set up oversized installations.

“Many buildings set up oversized chiller plants. They set five plants in a chiller room, running four and putting one on standby, when they actually only need to run three. This offers a great opportunity to save money,” Rana said.

Building operators run air conditioning installations at high throttle and around the clock, when they could achieve the same results with 20 percent lower capacity and 12-hour operation, he said, offering another example.

Made Sumantra, deputy general manager at Jakarta Setiabudi International, which manages a number of hotels, retail buildings and residential complexes in Indonesia, said they had enjoyed gradual cost savings by applying efficient operation.

“It does not come right then and there. It comes step-by-step and through multi-level efficiency measures,” Made said.

In his experience, cutting energy consumption at one of the company’s hotels a few years back reduced consumption by 5 percent in the first year.

“The saved funds were then invested in more appliances and workshops. We have now cut consumption by 17 percent. Costs saved were then again invested in bigger cuts. Our target is 25 percent in the next few years,” Made said.

At the hotel, the first things they improved were water quality and treatment as well as air conditioning.

“Bad water quality wastes money on almost every front, like housekeeping and laundry. By cutting costs, we can save money for more improvements,” Made said.

He thought that establishing a green mindset was an essential part of becoming a greener operator.

“We need to get everyone on board with the idea. The marketing people, for example, can understand that energy consumption directly relates to pricing,” he says.

“By closely monitoring our energy use, using special equipment, we can accurately calculate our pricing and efficiency plan.”

The company has also held annual workshops for chief engineers, where they discuss and share best practices for energy efficiency.

“There’s nothing that can’t be used more efficiently. Anything that moves and turns can definitely be used more efficiently.”

Source: The Jakarta Post

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