The Jakarta Post
Awareness of sustainable construction among developers remains low but efforts continue to promote the advantages of green buildings.
Indonesia is witnessing rapid urban development, with residential buildings mushrooming, as residents are eager to live better and more comfortably.
However, the development activities are frequently conducted at the expense of the environment as buildings are known as the source of carbon emissions.
Uncontrolled urban development activities that produce carbon emissions will lead to severe environmental degradation, which will affect future generations.
'Almost 40 percent of carbon emissions come from buildings,' said Nirwono Joga, a specialist on architectural issues.
He said the fight against carbon emissions was fast becoming the most popular issue in environmental preservation.
'Sustainable development, sustainable construction and green buildings are relatively new jargon,' he said.
The green-building concept remains at the initial phase and has yet to become a nationwide concern, according to Nirwono.
A gubernatorial regulation concerning green buildings was issued but the regulation is only applicable to certain buildings within certain categories.
'The application of green building principles in Indonesia is more voluntary in nature and has yet to become mandatory,' Nirwono noted.
Jakarta with the most rigorous building development has not carried out coercive efforts or provided incentives to prompt the development of green buildings.
According to Nirwono, the Jakarta administration can support the sustainable building initiative without using budgetary funds.
'To promote the development of green buildings, the administration should ease building development permit issuance or give incentives in the form of tax breaks.'
Many countries provide incentives for property developers committed to green-building development. The Singaporean government, for example, requires all property developers to construct green buildings.
Nirwono said that additional efforts were needed to develop green buildings. Sustainable construction works include the preparation of design and materials, transporting materials and construction development.
'During the material preparation phase, developers should only use resources from nearby areas,' he said.
'In this way, carbon emissions can be reduced.'
The use of materials should also be considered. 'It is better to use recycled products and other low-energy consuming interior and exterior accessories.'
During the construction phase, developers should work in harmony with the environment and should not violate the environment.
'Usually a construction project consumes large amounts of water. They could reduce the exploitation of water resources by simply recycling it. For example, they can wash vehicles and construction equipment with used water. Then they can put the water back into the subsurface around the project though infiltration wells,' he explained.
The expert estimates that sustainable construction requires a budget boost of 15 to 30 percent. The extra funds would be well worth it in the long run because they would reduce operational costs significantly.
Meanwhile, IG Oka Sindhu Pribadi, an expert in city development planning, said that sustainable development included city planning, environmental planning, architecture, landscape architecture and community building.
He has conducted a study on a 500-hectare suburban area known as Kawasan Metropolitan Banjarmasin - Banjarbaru-Martapura in South Kalimantan.
This area is on its way to becoming a satellite city.
'The fast development of residential buildings puts the social structure at risk since this region is known for its paddy fields that supply South Kalimantan,' he said.
The results of his study were used to formulate suggestions for urban planning alternatives to control sub-urban gambut development.
'The aim is to take advantage of the region without exploiting its resources. I recommend green development with sustainable development.' Oka remarked.
Based on the results of the study, he proposed a design for a self- generating solar energy supply to keep up with rising electricity demand amid growing populations.
Urban design concepts have to consider not only providing a comfortable residential environment for inhabitants but also preserving the harmony of the entire ecosystem where they live. 'This will include the involvement of developers to build green buildings through sustainable construction methods,' Oka said.
Meanwhile, Erlyana Anggita Sari, a spokesman for Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) disclosed that to date, the council had awarded 10 certificates; of which six were newly developed buildings and four were existing buildings.
Currently, there are around 70 buildings under examination to obtain green building certificates. Of the number, 40 are located in Jakarta, while the rest are spread out in several big cities throughout Indonesia.
BCA Tower, Sampoerna Strategic Square and the Dahana building are among the holders of green building certificates.
'They are already familiar with efficiency in using resources, such as electricity, water and other building materials and maintenance,' she said.
'The building that houses the Public Works Ministry, which received a green building certificate in 2011, has seen a 42 percent energy consumption reduction.
'More and more developers have realized that green certification helps market a building.'
Colliers International senior associate director Monica Koesnovagril said that there was indication that investors and tenants from other countries preferred green buildings, either to invest in or to establish their offices.
'No wonder developers are starting to consider the green building concept. They believe that market demand is increasing and the concept will give them a new advantage. To respond to the growing market segment, Colliers International Indonesia also set up Green Facility Management to serve the specific demand,' she said.
Colliers International Indonesia assistant manager for facility management (green) TM Zulfadly said that sustainable buildings would provide long-term benefits to the operator.
'They will enjoy lower operational costs on account of reduced power and water consumption and also less waste. They may also get additional benefits, such as an image boost,' he said.
Green buildings were more attractive to prospective tenants, he said.
Apart from that, green building will boost productivity. 'The whole environment will make the employee feel better and this will reduce their health problems. So, the selling point of green buildings is that it will enhance the quality life of their inhabitants,' he noted.
'Everything has to be kept green right now. Like plants, green is the symbol of a healthy life.'
(Eddy P. Kasdiono)
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