Thai Green Building Institute upbeat on launch of 'TREES' initiative

Economy March 06, 2012 00:00

By Achara Deboonme,
Patcharee Lu

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With six pioneer companies, the Thai Green Building Institute (TGBI) expects to attract 100 applications this year for its newly launched "TREES" certificate, designed to boost green awareness among building owners and demonstrate Thailand's commitment


“From the launch today, we expect more applicants. Now, the level of understanding [among building owners] is low. But they will know what others can do and what benefits can be reaped by applying for this standard,” said Ninnart Chaithirapinyo, vice chairman of Toyota Motor Thailand, speaking as chairman of the newly established institute.
The TGBI yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the six pioneer companies in the TREES scheme: Univenture, Toyota Motor Thailand, Toyota Nakornratchasima (Tai-Yen), Kasikornbank, Siam Cement Group’s Siam Fibre Cement, and Ananda Development. 
Established as a result of cooperation between the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage and the Engineering Institute of Thailand under HM the King’s Patronage, the institute launched TREES yesterday, followed by a seminar to reveal details of the requirements. 
The event was attended by hundreds of representatives from construction and systems companies. 
Now open for applications, the institute is charging Bt30,000-Bt300,000 per project, depending on usable space.
The rating system will compliment a range of systems in use today in many countries, mainly LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the United States. Japan, Australia, India and Vietnam have their own rating systems. 
Thirty per cent of TREES criteria come from LEED, with the remainder modified to fit Thailand’s environment. The criteria were finalised following discussions that began in 2008.
“We’re convinced that our standards are on a par with global standards, with a focus on all areas from designing and material selection to building management,” said Ninnart.
He sees the TREES certificate as a warranty of companies’ commitment to the environment, in light of greater impacts from global warming. 
“Going green will benefit Thai and global society and this CSR [corporate social responsibility]-like commitment will boost their corporate image and influence consumers’ decision,” he added.
The institute estimates that building owners will have to increase their investment cost by 7-10 per cent from conventional construction values in order to meet the green building standard. However, the investment would be recouped in a few years, as the criteria will ensure a 30-per-cent cut in energy consumption, he said.
The institute’s chief said that in the initial stage, the TGBI would focus on new office buildings with a minimum space of 2,000 square metres. Then, the focus would be expanded to cover older buildings and residential projects.
Shopping centres and hospitals are among the types of building that consume a lot of energy, he said.
To promote the institute and its standard, the TGBI plans to provide training courses on green building for Thai architects and engineers, which should prepare them for the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
It will also discuss with the Energy Ministry the matter of incentives to boost the number of participants. For example, in encouraging property owners to comply with the LEED standard, the US waives the normal US$25,000 (Bt767,000) consulting fee. 
“There’re a lot to be discussed if we are going to boost awareness,” Ninnart added.