Green Building has become a revolution in the construction industry, aligning with the global Sustainable Development Goals. World Green Building Council (WGBC) defines Green Building as a Building that can minimize negative impacts and can provide positive impacts on our climate and natural environment during its design, construction and/or operation stages.
Nowadays, there are several Green Building standards with different evaluation criteria in the world, but all of them are based on 5 main elements: energy, sustainable sites, materials and resources, water and indoor air quality.
5 CATEGORIES OF GREEN BUILDING
BENEFITS OF GREEN BUILDING
As the criteria are built to evaluate a construction project from design stage to completion and operation, green buildings have brought about great and diverse benefits. These benefits can be divided into 3 main categories: Environment, Economy, and Society.
BENEFITS OF GREEN BUILDING - ENVIRONMENT
Green Building solutions such as using solar energy, natural lighting, and means of public transportation, will increase energy efficiency and reduce harmful emissions, thereby contributing to environmental protection. Specifically:
- Saving energy and resources: Green Building solutions such as using solar energy, natural lighting, and means of public transportation, will increase energy efficiency. Encouraging the use of public transportation can help reduce fuel consumption. Recycling gray water and rainwater for toilet flushing and irrigation, etc. recycling and reusing materials during construction and operation.
- Rainwater management to prevent erosion: controlling and utilizing rainwater through the rainwater collection system, flow diversion, overflow prevention and use of absorbent materials for landscape in order to prevent stormwater erosion, which can cause erosion and spread contamination.
- Protecting and restoring ecosystem: efforts to remove the hazardous materials from the soil and groundwater, reducing human exposure to wildlife with health risks due to environmental pollution. Encourage the redevelopment on developed land, preserve undeveloped areas for future generations and reduce the environmental impacts from development, preventing the construction of unnecessary new facilities and roads, avoiding environmental impacts.
- Reducing emissions: the use of low emisison vehicles (bicycle, electrical bicycle, etc), public transportation, local materials and materials with low VOCs, etc. Using energy efficiently will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially during operational phase.
- Air Conditioning: heat retention property of high-rise buildings and construction materials such as concrete or asphalt are the main causes of heat island effect. The project can solve this problem by optimizing the design, reducing heat radiation, careful selection of land, and planting more trees within the construction area.
- Reducing waste: managing, classifying and reusing materials in order to minimize the amount of waste to be buried.
BENEFITS OF GREEN BUILDING - ECONOMY
Cost savings in the operation process can be deemed the main economic advantage that a Green Building can bring, alongside other benefits such as enhancing building value and increasing productivity. Specifically:
- Reduce operation and maintenance costs: Thanks to green design and technology, operational costs of a green building project will be significantly reduced, thereby compensating quickly for the other additional costs in the construction process of the project. It is estimated that in Vietnam, a Green Building only costs 5-15% extra compared to the construction costs of the normal building/project. However, during operation, a Green Building will be able to save 20-30% energy consumption. Therefore, only 4-5 years into operation, the amount of savings can offset the original initial investment (Pham Ngoc Dang, 2014). The operational costs are reduced by optimizing energy consumption and maximizing natural energy sources such as light, wind, etc. Thereby, it will reduce power consumption and minimize the cost of construction for pollution treatment systems.
- Improving productivity: optimizing using natural light and wind to help building users feel comfortable. According to Dailey study (2013), indoor air quality can improve up to 18% of labor productivity, increase memory and stimulate brain's creativity.
- Enhance value for the project: thanks to the investment from idea to initial design stage, a Green Building always has aesthetic value to it. Furthermore, taking into account the location for construction and the ecosystem related to it can encourage support from the public for the project. In the context of global warming and energy crisis, project reputation can create such a difference.
Environmental pollution, global warming and climate change are the topics of great concern for the community. Finding a safe and comfortable living and working space is an essential need. On the other hand, buoyant real estate market and the tendency of increasing interest in health and healthy lifestyles are the motivators for investors to search for a new direction: constructing projects according to Green Building standards!
BENEFITS OF GREEN BUILDING - SOCIETY
Besides the environmental and economic benefits for investors and users, green buildings also bring great benefits for the public such as:
- Improve public health: In big cities, living and working in enclosed environments and using air conditioner and artificial lights are very common. This is the main cause of illness such as headache, dizziness and fatique or even depression. Green Building will solve this problem by solutions of using natural daylight, non-toxic interior, using ventilation system to provide fresh air to reduce CO2 levels in the air.
- Create a healthy lifestyle and recreation: one of the recommended criteria for Green Building is to prioritize the use of environmentally-friendly vehicles such as bicycle or public transport with low emission levels. This solution does not only protect the environment but also improve public health.
GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATIONS IN VIETNAM
In Vietnam, there are 6 Green Building rating systems currently in use:
- LEED: assessment tool of United State Green Building Council (USGBC). This is a comprehensive rating system suitable for projects aiming at international brand identification, hence suitable for developed countries. Currently, LEED is the world’s most pioneering and popular international standard as there have been over 50,000 projects in all 50 states of the US and in 135 countries.
- LOTUS: evaluation tool of Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC). LOTUS is developed based on green building rating systems of developed countries but adjusted and supplemented to suit the construction industry and climate conditions in Vietnam.
- GREENMARK: introduced in Vietnam in 2010, GREENMARK is the evaluation tool of Singapore’s Building & Construction Authority (BCA). Similar to LEED, the criteria of GREENMARK are mostly relevent in developed countries.
- EDGE: the evaluation tool of the International Finance Corporation (IFC). EDGE focuses on energy, water and material criteria, so this tool is suitable for projects aiming at minimizing resource consumption. EDGE was first introduced in Vietnam in 2015.
- WELL: established in 2014, WELL is certified by GBCI – the same organization that evaluates LEED. WELL’s criteria mainly focus on the health of building users.
- FITWEL: launched in 2017, currently FITWEL is present in over 35 countries and with more than 1,300 users.