Thursday, November 19, 2009

Understanding the Green Building Index (GBI)

" ARchiteCTURE for LIFE "

By Tong Sze Leng | Nov 3, 2009 (StarProperty)

Environmental activists have called us to “go green” for years. The need to save the environment is even more urgent now with the latest finding from UK-based Caitlin Arctic Survey and the World Wildlife Fund that suggests the Arctic ice will melt away within a decade.

Malaysia Energy Centre in Bandar Baru Bangi

The typhoon that recently hit the Philippines and a series of earthquakes that rocked Indonesia are also clear indications that we need to put much more effort into “going green” to ensure Earth’s sustainability.

Events like these have encouraged green building campaigns. Architects from around the world race to build greener, more environment-friendly structures. This worldwide movement is set to minimise our global carbon footprint.

A green building – whether a house, office building or school – follows a simple rule: it must not impose problems on our health as well as the environment.

How to measure a green building?
Three words: Green Building Index (GBI).

GBI is a rating system developed by Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia, which aims to educate architects, designers, engineers and the public on building sustainable structures.

According to the GBI website (, the rating system provides an opportunity for developers to design and construct green, sustainable buildings. These structures save on energy and water, harmonise with its surrounding environment and use resources efficiently.

For a building to be awarded the GBI rating, it must meet six key criteria. They are:
• energy efficiency
• indoor environmental quality
• sustainable site planning and management
• materials and resources
• water efficiency
• innovation

A structure will first be assessed at the design stage. Once the six key criteria are met, a GBI provisional rating will be awarded. A year after the building is first occupied, another award will be given. After that, an evaluation will be carried out every three years.

Green buildings in Malaysia
To date, Pusat Tenaga Malaysia Green Energy Office (PTM-GEO) ( is Malaysia’s only certified green building.

Launched in July 2009, PTM-GEO nestles on a 5-acre site in Bandar Baru Bangi and is currently operating with an energy index of 65 kWh/m2year. A normal office building in Kuala Lumpur (KL) operates on an energy index that ranges from 250 to 300 kWh/m2year.

GTower located in the heart of KL Golden Triangle area

Another successful green building is GTower (, which is located at the intersection of Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang. It is rated A++ by the Green Mark GOLD certification, a provisional rating from the Building & Construction Authority of Singapore. The structure’s green IT solutions gave it its A++ rating.

GTower incorporates IP-based intelligent applications that enable the company to reduce power consumption and carbon emissions while providing optimal power and networking capabilities.

Why Malaysian companies should go green
The Malaysian government has set up a RM1.5 billion fund to encourage more green projects and the use of green technology.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in his Budget 2010 speech that the fund will offer soft loans to companies that supply and employ green technology. Consumer companies will receive a maximum financing of RM10 million while suppliers, RM50 million.

“The government will bear 2% of total interest rate,” the Prime Minister said.

Datuk Seri Najib also added that building owners will be given tax exemption if they obtain the GBI within Oct 24, 2009 and Dec 31, 2014. Buyers who purchase GBI-compliant buildings within those dates will also be given stamp duty exemption on instruments of transfer of ownership.

With such benefits, companies should consider going green as a green building not only cuts carbon emissions, but also decreases operating costs in the long run. Also, instead of using new materials, old materials can be recycled to construct a building; hence, reducing waste…and increasing Earth’s sustainability.

Interested companies can apply financing through the National Green Technology Centre and the scheme would start on Jan 1, 2010.

As of today, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, the Ministry of Finance as well as the Malaysia Energy Centre are still in the stage of finalising the details of the RM1.5 billion fund.

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