Why green buildings still have a long way to go in Asia

Green buildings can do wonders for the environment while saving construction businesses a great deal of money. So why is it that we have yet to see more of these practical structures throughout Asia?

In a report by Research and Markets, it was highlighted that the number of green buildings double every three years, and the global green buildings market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13% between 2015 and 2020.

Despite the promising outlook, the report revealed that most Asian cities are still far behind major European cities such as Paris and London, which have a high percentage of green buildings (64% and 68%, respectively).

Asia’s highest penetration of green buildings comes from Singapore (30%), while Shanghai (15%), Beijing (11%), Tokyo (8%) and Hong Kong (4%) have started to follow suit.

Green buildings invite a whole host of advantages such as reducing operational expenses, boosting employee productivity and lowering harmful greenhouse gas emissions among others.

Dr Stellios Plainiotis, chief executive officer of environmental design and engineering consultancy at Neapoli, stated that the reason most Asian countries are reluctant to invest in a green building or convert an old one, is down to the fact that they are not fully aware of the substantial benefits that come with it.

He added that the green buildings market in Asia has only just recently started catering to market demand rather than operating solely based on government regulation. And as fast growing Southeast Asian markets, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, continue to adopt green buildings, the need for government interference will diminish.

But as Dr Jason Byrne, associate professor, Urban & Environmental Planning, at Griffith University’s School of Environment in Australia pointed out, more attention should be directed towards converting old buildings rather than constructing new ones.

“More than two-thirds of the buildings that will exist by the middle of this century have already been built in most cities, so the critical issue is how to get people to retrofit existing buildings”, he said.