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Green Concept In Local Commercial Complex Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5425 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Construction industry is one of the most important industries in Malaysia. This is because construction industry has direct or indirect influence with other 142 industries such as material processing, mining, quarrying, machinery, manpower etc. It plays an important role in national economy as government always manipulate the construction industry to govern the local economy. As proven recently, the Tenth Malaysia Plans with planned duration of 5 years (2010-2015) are with some infrastructural facilities earmarked for development to facilitate the nation’s growth. One of the mega projects which the government had launched recently is the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) projects which worth a total around RM36.6 billion covering a 20 kilometers radius around the Kuala Lumpur’s city center will carry two million passenger-trips per day when completed. Unfortunately, all the developments and constructions are the burden to the natural ecosystem.

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Sadly, construction industry is well known for its “3Ds” which is dirty, dangerous and demanding. In the term of dirty, large amount of wastes both chemical and non-chemical or solid wastes are produced during the production of buildings. Undeniably, landfill is limited and improper waste management will cause serious pollutions to the environment affecting the health of the locals. Furthermore, enormous energy is wasted or loss through the envelope of the buildings. This increases the workload of the HVAC systems in the buildings as well as the demand for higher electricity consumption. As the demand of electricity increased, the power plants will have to generate more power to cope with the demand. In Malaysia, many of our power plants are still using coal as a source of energy. Burning coal is harmful to the environment. Thus, buildings with better envelope and more eco-friendly materials are needed to promote the sustainability of our mother nature.

Research background

It can no longer be disputed that the resources of this earth are finite, that its capacity to absorb our wastes is limited, that if we (as a species) want to survive, we cannot continue our ruthless exploitation of the environment (Szokolay, ed. 2008). Mondazzi (2005) stated that the world are realizing these impacts through the loss of open space, the shortage of water supplies, a growing dependence on energy and electricity from non-renewable resources, the decay of urban centers and attendant negative health impacts as suburbs continue to sprawl.

Global warming is an emerging issue of international challenges. The green building movement has its roots in the energy crisis of the 1970s and the creative approaches to saving energy that came with it, including the use of active and passive solar design and tighter building envelopes. The rapid growth population has caused the rate of development around the globe. This has also helping the increment in the concentration of greenhouse gases. Buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers in the world, accounting for one-quarter to one-third of all energy use and a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions (Wen Hong 2007). The global contribution from buildings towards energy consumption, both residential and commercial, has steadily increased reaching figures between 20% and 40% in developed countries, and has exceeded the other major sectors: industrial and transportation (Luis Pérez-Lombard 2007). From 1971 to 2004, the world’s total final energy consumption increased 87 percent, with an annual average growth rate of 1.9 percent (Wen Hong 2007). This statistic has brought the world’s attention about the energy crisis. The purpose of carry out this research is to improve the understanding in conserving energy in buildings.

According to Sassi (2006), population growth and the raising of low living standards will require more resources, produce more waste and increase the impact on the natural environment. Buildings have lifespan of decades. Whatever buildings being built will always affects the next generations. The evidence for climate change is growing more alarming each year. The exceptionally hot summers such as those of 2003 and 2005 warned experts that the pace of this warming is faster than previously envisaged in their worst case scenarios (Sue, Davide and Fergus 2009).

Problem Statement

The first problem is the nature and use of our existing technology, which is largely inefficient, outdated, and even in some cases obsolete. In the United States alone, the building sector uses non-renewable and environmentally hazardous energy, emits 39 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide, lacks the ability to retain its generated energy long enough to sustain indoor air quality levels, and fails in recycling and managing water and waste (Osman 2010). Whereas in Malaysia, construction industry is relying on the cheap foreign labours workforce from other countries such as Indonesia, Philippine and Vietnam. This causes the local companies to use foreign labours rather than high tech equipment which will maybe costs more.

Victor & Julee (2004, p. 391) stated that others have argued that mere mitigation of environmental impacts is not sustainable, and that new approaches are preferable, for example based on maintenance or even enhancement of ecosystem services. The scientific and technological knowledge base for green building is also limited, which is not surprising given the recent origin of the discipline (Eric 2010). Xiaoling, Liyin, Yuzhe, & Guoyou (2011, p. 36) stated that financial cost is usually considered as the critical barriers for real estate developers who are hesitating whether to develop green real estate project or not.

The energy aspects of environmental design and construction have been more thoroughly researched than other aspects, such as water conservation and reuse, recharging of groundwater, construction runoff control, the use of green building products, and indoor environmental quality (e.g., daylighting, ventilation, low emitting materials, and indoor chemical and pollutant source control) (John 2010). This may lead to the uncertainties that the developers or owners need to take which they may need to undergo some further research to implement green concept on buildings.

Aim & Objectives

The aim of this study is to ascertain the benefits and challenges in implementation of green concept in local commercial complex and find out the strategic of implementation.

The objectives of this study are as follow:-

To find out the factors which drive the owners or developers to implement green concept

To understand the benefits in implantation of green concept in commercial complex

To understand the challenges in implementation of green concept in commercial complex

To find out the strategic plan to overcome the challenges in implementation of green concept in commercial complex

 To outline the implementation plan or strategy of green concept

Scope of study

The scope of this study is focused on the benefits of implementing green concept in Malaysia’s commercial complex and the challenges faced by the owners or developers, consultants and contractors in implementing green concept in commercial complex in Malaysia.

Research Methodology

Primary data


Interviews enable to provide detail information and personal opinion towards particular issues. Interviewees will be selected who are relevant to the research objectives and possess reasonable experience in the field. Series of questions will be asked during interview sessions with the parties who had involved in the construction and operation of commercial complex which include owners or developers, contractors, consultants and commercial complex managers. Questions for interviewees will be specific and set according to the research aim and objectives.

Secondary data

Literature Review

Literature review is an important method because it provides wide range of information and further understanding which is relevant for this research topic in regards of its aim and objectives. The sources of literature review will be from books, articles, journals, thesis, and newspapers. These can be obtained from college library or public library. Other resources may obtain through the World Wide Web which includes emerald database and Wikipedia. This enable the overseas’ publications and studies can be easily obtained. Some of the useful data will be cited into this study as references.

Chapter Outline of Dissertation

Chapter 1 – Introduction

This chapter includes a background of research, problem statement, aim and objective, and scope of study. In addition, brief research methodology and research plan are also included in this chapter.

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

Literature review presents a detail review and provides further understanding on the green building. It is usually referred and cited from various sources such as books, articles, journals and online database.

Chapter 3 – Research Methodology

This chapter presents the details of methods which have been used to collect data and information to achieve the aim and objectives of this study. It also includes the rationale for the methodologies used.

Chapter 4 – Analysis and Discussion

Analysis of data collected from the methods used in Chapter 3 is done in this chapter. The analysed data will be in the form of chart, histogram or graph with further explanations.

Chapter 5 – Conclusion and Recommendation

This chapter concludes the study in accordance with the aim and objectives of this study. Recommendations are made for encouraging future studies which are not completed in this study.


A list of sources which have been cited and quoted in this study is provided. The referencing format is based on the Harvard referencing system.

Figure 1.: Research planResearch Plan

Literature Review


Western North California Green Building Council (2012) defines that green building, or sustainable design, is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment over the entire life cycle of the building. It is also known as energy optimisation. Studies carried out by experts and professionals around the world have indicated and proofed that buildings consumed the most energy compared to other sectors. Over the years, the energy consumption has been increased drastically. Studies have forecasted that energy consumption will be increased by an alarming percentage. According to Wen Hong, Chiang, Shapiro and Clifford (2007), the world’s final energy consumption is expected to increase 1.5 times from 2004 to 2030. In the develop countries, energy consumption has surged tremendously leading to global energy crisis. Those countries are mostly in South America, Asia, South-East Asia, and Middle-East. There are researches stated that buildings in China are one the most energy consumption in the world. Ksenia Chmutina (2010) stated that energy consumption per building in China is 2-3 times higher than that of the developed countries with similar climatic conditions and buildings are less comfortable as a result of poor thermal performance and too little insulation in most of China’s buildings. In recent years, Asia (including South-East Asia) has the highest economic growth in the world but this comes with an adverse effect. A research conducted by Wen Hong et al (2007) shows that “From 1971 to 2004, the world’s total final energy consumption increased 87 percent, with an annual average growth rate of 1.9 percent. Around 43 percent of the total increment was attributable to Asia, where final energy consumption increased 275 percent, with an average annual rate of 4.1 percent, more than twice as fast as the global average.”

Nowadays, most of the newly constructed commercial buildings are equipped with centralised energy management system or building automation system. This system controls everything from lighting to HVAC. They detect and eliminate waste, and enable the efficient use electricity resources (Iwayemi, Wan and Zhou, 2011). With the help of the energy management system, corporations and proprietors are able to save their money by paying less for the electric bills. Energy management system not only optimises the energy usage but it also maintains the comfort of the occupants. Energy management system is an integrated system which manages and controls multiple systems or elements in the buildings such as lifts, lighting, security system, HVAC system etc. Normally, energy management system is made up of a hierarchy structure comprises of 3 levels which are field level, automation level, management level. The lowest level of the hierarchy is the field level which consists of sensors and actuators. These sensors and actuators are basically like ears, eyes and limbs of the system. They sense and deliver the information to the upper level of hierarchy. The second level will be the automation level which consists of direct digital controllers (DDC). These controllers provide accurate designated reactions or control according to the building activities using digital devices. The most upper level of the hierarchy is the management system level which is centralised digital controller. This level is acts as the brain of the whole system. It receives data and information from the sensors and the actuators, then process it. After that, the system decides what actions to be taken to facilitate the energy efficient of the whole building. Furthermore, the system not only able to control things but it also stores the data about the electricity consumption of each unit or component as reference for the building owner. It also detects the condition of components and reminds the owner where maintenance is needed for better energy efficiency.

In providing better built environment, there are some benefits to the occupants. A research conducted by Steemers and Manchanda (2009) shows that low energy design can achieve some of the highest levels of occupant satisfaction provides clear evidence that can encourage building owners and designers to be more confident of strategies and technologies that are more energy efficient. Occupants may tend to work more efficiently and increase their productivity in the pleasant environment. Excessive artificial lighting may causes intense glare and illumination as it will disrupts the visual comforts and resulting the occupants’ fatigue as well as headache. Thus, maintaining comfortable illumination may helps to reduce the energy consumption and keeping the health of the occupants.

One of the aspects in buildings which can save a substantial amount of energy is the artificial lighting. Artificial lighting which consume less energy or electricity might also tend to reduce heat gain by the indoor environment. Therefore it helps to reduce the workload of air-conditioning to maintain the indoor air temperature. About 40 per cent reduction in electricity consumption was achieved after the deployment of CFLs which depicts that efficient house lighting with CFLs will conserves significant electric energy for other purposes (Sule, Ajao and Ajimotokan and Garba, 2011). The use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that utilize up to 75 per cent less energy or electricity than incandescent light bulbs, can last up to ten times longer (Sule et al., 2011). For the equivalent amount of brightness output (lumen), the CFLs consumes 3 to 4 times less energy than incandescent lamps. CFLs also last longer than incandescent light bulbs. The CFLs lifespan is at least 8 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. As a normal CFLs, it will last for six thousands to fifteen thousand hours and incandescent light bulbs only last for seven hundred fifty hours to one thousands hours.

Another factor which will affect the energy consumption of buildings will be the management and organisation. Some office buildings and hotels maintain indoor temperatures as low as 18 to 20 degrees centigrade when the comfortable temperature is about 24 degrees centigrade (Chan, 2004). Many of the occupants in those buildings are wearing jackets and using USB heaters to keep them warm. To maintain such low indoor temperature, HVAC system will consumes a lot of energy and needs frequent maintenance as well. Basically, energy consumed to maintain such low temperature will be just wasted for nothing. Many office buildings do not switch off the HVAC during lunch hour which mean that the HVAC is operating for the furniture but not occupants. Other than HVAC, lighting inside the buildings also takes up a large portion in overall buildings consumption. Many buildings are not designed to optimise the use of natural lighting. Therefore, those buildings need a lot of artificial lighting to illuminate the indoor environment and increase the electricity consumption. In the other hand, large area of the artificial lighting are switched on for just a few occupants in the offices. This situation is more or less similar to the HVAC system where the energy is consumed for nothing.

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Despite how little amount energy needed to operate the HVAC system, it will not able to use the energy efficiently if the building envelope is not properly insulated. Insufficient airtight building envelope causes the warm or cool air may leak through. This will influence the comfort of occupants and greatly increases the workloads of HVAC system and therefore increases the consumption of energy. High thermal transmittance of the materials used for building envelope will causes the heat transfers from the buildings to the surrounding causing severe heat loss inside the buildings. A research conducted by VanBronkhorst, Persily and Emrnerich (2005) shows that infiltration accounts for roughly 15% of the heating load in all office buildings nationwide, and a higher percentage be recently constructed buildings. Thus, the buildings must be insulated sufficiently and provide good air -tightness to prevent the leakage of heat without noticing. However, the thermal insulation of buildings can be improved by using several low thermal conductivity materials such as aerated concrete blocks, fiberglass polyurethane and aluminium foil. The windows for most of the buildings in Malaysia are having high thermal transmittance and it is one of the major causes where the heat disperses through the windows. There are methods to be made to solve this problem. The windows can be tinted and double glazed to lower the thermal conductivity of the windows.

Building orientation also plays an important role in energy efficient buildings. It affects the energy required for HVAC system. This is because solar radiation will heat up the buildings envelope faster such as walls, doors and windows. This means that higher solar radiation causes the HVAC system to consume higher energy to maintain the indoor air temperature. Building orientation is act like the natural shelter to prevent direct sunlight and solar radiation which will increase the heating rate of building envelope and causes over illumination to the indoor environment. Over illumination will affects the visual comfort of the occupants. As a result, occupants may easily fatigue and suffer from headache. Another reason associated with building orientation will be the ventilation effects which are the natural winds or seasonal winds.

The Energy Commission building or the ST Diamond building in Malaysia is one of the greenest buildings in the world. The sides of the building are 25° tilted from vertical to prevent direct sunlight and excessive sunlight. The tilted and tinted glazing allows comfortable glare free light to be reflected into the building from the landscape. Around 50% of the entire building area is illuminated by daylight. Furthermore, the building is sustainable as it is installed with 1930m2 of photovoltaic solar panels which will produce around 280,000 kWh annually.

Issues and barriers on Green Buildings

In the context of green concept, there are some arguments and issues relating to health and environment. Some materials used in lamps, such as mercury, are toxic to the environment and must be handled carefully. Large amounts of mercury pose serious health risks to neurological disorders and birth defects but with lesser amounts of mercury, it will cause the lamp to fail, reduce the luminance of lamp and shorten the lifespan of the lamp.

In designing and constructing the energy efficient buildings, construction costs for the buildings will be much higher compared to the normal buildings. This is because energy efficient or low-energy buildings need better designs and construction methods to increase and control the amount of natural lighting to illuminate into the buildings. In the other hand, low-energy buildings need additional materials or better materials to be built in concerning to reduce the thermal transmittance of the buildings. Developers may not have the capital to build such energy efficient buildings. If they are able to do so, the rental will also increased, thus the costs will just transfer to the occupants or consumers. This will increase the financial burden of the occupants of the buildings.

Many people presume that the green building is inevitably costs more or less profitable compare to normal building. Halliday (2008) stated that it is also reasonable to assume that the innovation requited has a cost implication of time, planning, risk and enhanced information requirements, so inevitably innovators will be penalise and their profit margins reduced when put in direct competition with non-eco-friendly building.

Developers and owners will always consider and look into the details in implementing new green technology. Uncertainties in new technology may hold back the implementation of the technology. Duda (2009) stated that overall the largest barrier facing the implementation of green facades is perceived financial risk associated with event beyond the control of the owner or unexpected due to lack of examples and research. This means that we may need more local green buildings as evidence to convince local developers or owners and also as guideline for them.

Lastly, there is lack of policy and standards for green building. Policy makers often wait until something undesirable or catastrophic happens before we implement controls and policy to resolve the issue (Duda, 2009). In Malaysia, we are having this problem too. We have GBI to evaluate green building but we don’t have a specific policy and standards to govern the green building. There is Uniform Building By-Law (UBBL) for normal building construction but there are no green building codes or standards in Malaysia. Without these standards and policy, developers and owners are not bound to comply them.

Government Initiatives in Malaysia

In Malaysia, government had firstly built the low-energy office building (MECW, Putrajaya) in 2001 with integrated energy efficient design and showcased the building to illustrate the benefits of it to the public. The MECW building saves RM600,000 per annum in electric bill. Normal buildings consume around 250 kWh/m2 every year while MECW building only consumes 114 kWh/m2 every year. Malaysia’s government also built the Energy Commission Building in 2005. This building has a unique diamond shape which is purposely designed for reducing the thermal heat gain from sunlight. The sides of the building are 25 degree tilted from vertical to prevent excessive solar radiation and sunlight shine into the building. The tilted and tinted glazing allows comfortable glare free light to be reflected into the building from the surrounding landscape.

The authorities in Malaysia are proposing regulations and policies on the effort of energy efficient in Malaysia’s construction industry to improve the surrounding environment and reduce the demand growth rate of electricity. The regulations and policies will not only benefit the environment but the nation economics as well. With the reduced demand growth rate of electricity, the government does not need to build more power stations and facing time constraints on the development of sustainable energy.

Designing Green Building

Having a green building, it must be well designed in term of sustainability and environmentally friendly. Designing a green building is not an easy task. It need to consider the elements and components which will help to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption such materials used, the life cycle of the building and the natural lighting. These elements and components are the key ingredients for a green and sustainable building. Generally, the green building designers must consider the following 3 principles:-

Connectivity: design to reinforce the relationship between the project, the site, the community, and the ecology. Make minimal changes to the natural functioning. Reinforce and steward those natural characteristics specific to the place (Williams, 2007).

Indigenous: design with and for what has been resident and sustainable on the site for centuries (Williams, 2007).

Long life, loose fit: design for future generations while reflecting past generations (Williams, 2007).

Materials used for green building must be of low carbon footprint during its manufacturing process and throughout its whole life cycle. Designers should take into consideration that the sizes and shapes of the materials or components to be used. This is because the cutting and operations on the site may affect the wastages of the materials. As the wastages reduced, the construction costs also reduced and profits will increase.

With the current computer modelling technology, Building Information Modelling or BIM, Autodesk’s Ecotect and Green Building Studio are now gaining popularity around the globe to help the designers in carbon assessment of the buildings. This would promote the green concept designs to be a more consistently meet the target of the owners without over-design or under-design.

It is recommended to divert the buildings into components and modules, then manufacture it offsite. This is also known as prefabrication. Currently in Malaysia, manufacturing of buildings’ components offsite is getting more and more popular, especially in city area such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang. This is because delivery of concrete from cities’ outskirt has a time limitation. If the concrete trucks stuck in a traffic jam more than the permissible duration, the concrete will harden. Furthermore, prefabrication can improve quality, reduce wastage and reduce construction costs. Components and modules manufactured in factories have high consistency in size and ease the quality checking process. Repetitive components and modules with high consistency of size simply mean that the factories will arrange the cuttings or moulding and allocate their resources more effectively, so that the wastage is minimal. In addition, prefabrication also reduces the construction activities and time on project site. With shorter time on site, it also reduces the exposure of incomplete works to the weather. This may actually helps to slow down the corrosions of building materials such as steel bars and paint. Hence, it reduces the probability of rejected works and redo of works which will increase the costs of construction and wastages.

Why buildings need to be ‘green’?

In economic point of view, energy efficiency is defined as the ability to generate the same economic output with less energy input (The Aspen Institute, 2009). In conjunction, it also conserves the environment by reducing the carbon footprint caused by conventional energy production. There are some undeniable benefits which the green buildings can provide, which are:-

Enhance biodiversity – not use materials form threatened species or environments and improve natural habitats where possible through appropriate planting and water use (Halliday, 2008).

Reduce wastages – not consume a disproportionate amount of resources, including money and land during material sourcing, construction, use of use or disposal; not cause unnecessary waste of energy, water or materials due to short life, poor design, inefficiency, or less than ideal construction and manufacturing procedures. Buildings have to be affordable, manageable and maintainable in use (Halliday, 2008).

Minimise pollution – create minimum dependence on polluting products and materials, management practices, energy, power and forms of transport (Halliday, 2008).

Create healthy environments – enhance living, leisure and work environments; and not endanger the health of the builders or occupants, or any other parties, through exposure to pollutants, the use of toxic materials or providing host environments to harmful organisms (Halliday, 2008).

Reduce operating costs – as the building is well design in term of building tightness and use of natural lighting, it would actually help to reduce the amount of the electric bills.

Green buildings not only bring benefits to the environment but also the financial profits as well as the health and comfort of the occupants. In the context of oil price hiking, countries and corporations should be more concern about their financial and economical profitability, for instance it also slows down the electricity demand growth and the global warming effect.

C:UsersShingDocumentsAssignment (adv. diploma)Project DissertationAttachmentsIMG_0286.JPG

(Source: Halliday, 2008, ‘Sustainable Construction’, adopted from Shorrock and Henderson, 1990)

Figure 2.: Potential reduction in CO2

Factors which drive the Green Building

Hiking of energy price

In these recent years, global oil price is volatile. As the world’s demand on energy is keep increasing, the supply will become more sacred and the prices to produce energy will also go up. This is because the energy industry will need more resources, bigger plants and better equipment to produce more power. In Malaysia, energy generation is still relying a lot on non-renewable resources which are fossil fuel, natural gas, coal, and petroleum. These resources are subjected to global economy effects which mean the prices fluctuate as the global prices. Undeniably, the electricity costs in most countries also fluctuate over time as these resources’ prices.

C:UsersShingDocumentsAssignment (adv. diploma)Project DissertationAttachmentsM’sia energy production.jpg

(Source: IEA, 2011)

Figure 2.: Energy production in Malaysia

Higher market value and cost effective

There are numbers of studies were carried out regarding the value of green buildings. Czech Green Building Council (CZGBC, 2012) stated that commercial building with environmental certification in the UK is sold at about 38 % higher price than a comparable non-sustainable building. Other studies from Germany and Switzerland show that a house or apartment in a high energy standard or with certification can be sold in the market by up to 17 % higher price than a conventional project (CZGBC, 2012).

In conjunction, United State Green Building Council (USBGC, 2011) also stated that building sale prices for energy efficient buildings are as much as 10% higher per square foot than conventional buildings. An upfront investment of 2% in green building design, on average, results in life cycle savings of 20% of the total construction costs – more than ten times the initial investment (USBGC, 2011).

Furthermore, tenants who choose to rent the green commercial buildings have their own reasons. The following figure shows the reasons and statistics.



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