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Report calls on govt to push 'green' buildings

THE government should enact more "constraining" regulations to trigger the construction of more energy-efficient buildings in Thailand, says Mickael Feige, country manager of Solidiance, a regional consulting firm.

Feige's firm studies the development of the green building industry in Thailand, China, Vietnam and Singapore. In a white paper titled "Thailand's Green Building Goals: Aspirations vs Realities", it predicted the industry would continue to grow in Thailand - but the speed would depend much on whether the right steps were taken to strengthen the regulatory framework.

Government and key industry players should push for stricter rules and "constraint regulations" such as pushing a limit on energy consumption, to stimulate the building of more green buildings in the country, he said.

The Solidiance study reveals that the number of green buildings in Thailand has grown rapidly since 2007, almost doubling annually between by 2012. However, currently there are still only 22 buildings that have received either LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or TREES (Thailand's Rating of Energy and Environmental Sustainability) certificates.

By comparison, in Singapore, 240 new buildings received the Green Mark certified by the island state's Building Development Authority in 2010 alone.

Inconsistency of government policies to support energy-efficient buildings is a key obstacle, Feige said.

According to the study, the payback periods for "going green" in Thailand are shorter than the global average as well as in Singapore: five years in the case of constructing new buildings and five years in the case of retrofitting old ones. Other benefits include corporate social responsibility (CSR) or brand images, lower operating costs, and higher asset values of green buildings.

However, Thai developers shun the benefits because they don't want to pay more up front - costs up to 15 per cent more depending on the levels of certifications they want to achieve. Nevertheless, the cost of going green is coming down every year, Feige said.

Because of the higher up-front costs, none of the 22 LEED- and TREES-certified green buildings in Thailand is a residential building. Although two new condominium projects - The Circle and IDEO Mobi Sathorn - are expected to achieve TREES certification soon, green residential developments are likely to be limited to high-end projects.

On the positive side, a driving force for more green-building development is seen in multinational companies. With the forthcoming Asean Economic Community, more will set up their operations in Thailand. Some MNCs, including HSBC, Shell and Johnson & Johnson, have mandated LEED certifications for all their projects worldwide.

"KFC recently announced its policy to obtain a LEED certificate for all of its branches by 2015. If successful, there will be 400 or more LEED-certified green facilities in Thailand," according to the Solidiance report.

To strengthen its green image, Toyota, which sells Prius hybrid cars in Thailand, has made known its plan to have its 374 dealers TREES-certified by 2015.

There are currently six LEED "Platinum" certified buildings in Thailand: The Energy Complex, Park Venture Ecoplex, K-Bank Learning centre, HSBC Green Library, SCG Building 5 (SCT), and SCG Head Office Building 1 and 2.

Feige said Solidiance would shortly reveal a study on how the AEC will liberalise and boost the road transport of products and merchandise between Thailand and its neighbouring countries as well as how the country is going to strengthen its place as a logistics hub in the region.

The consulting firm is also undertaking research on the landscape of Thailand's medical-equipment industry in major cities outside the Greater Bangkok area for the next 10 years, he said.

The Solidiance executive was speaking in an exclusive interview with The Nation. The management consulting firm specialises in providing business-to-business marketing strategies to Fortune 1000 companies.


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