July 25, 2014 00:00 By Somluck Srimalee
Innovative design trend results in sustainable structures; more focus on eco-friendly construction products
Given the impact of climate change on people and their lifestyles, architects and engineers are increasingly designing new buildings under the “green” concept, using innovation across all aspects of the design and construction process in order to produce sustainable, eco-friendly buildings.
Associate Prof Dr Jin Anotai, lecturer in the Department of Environmental Engineering at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thon Buri, said that engineers and architects of today have to design homes and other buildings with concern for the environment firmly in mind, and that both project design and construction materials should be environmentally friendly.
Building design should have a waste-disposal system, with zero waste being the main goal in terms of having a system that equals the building’s beauty, he said.
Innovative design has to combine both the architect’s view and the engineer’s view, so that a building offers functionality to meet the demands of end users and is also friendly to the environment, he added.
Associate Prof Pirast Pacharaswate, a lecturer in the Architecture Faculty of Chulalongkorn University, said residential design should not only be about structure and architectural features.
An architect has to take environmental concerns into account to consume fewer resources, while the home itself also has to be environmentally friendly.
The architecture should be responsive to the weather, which has become increasingly severe over the past few years. The right design can reduce environmental destruction, he said, adding that this should be a clear and desirable concept for everyone, including Thais.
The local climate has influenced people’s lifestyle. Cold and warm climates have affected the tradition and culture of people, said the lecturer.
In line with the recent green trend, the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage and the Engineering Institute of Thailand under HM the King’s Patronage launched the “TREES” standard.
TREES is a rating system based on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the United States, which has been modified to suit Thailand’s environment.
It was launched in 2012 and six pioneering companies have joined the scheme: Univenture, Toyota Motor Thailand, Toyota Nakhon Ratchasima (Tai-Yen), Kasikornbank, Siam Cement Group’s Siam Fibre Cement, and Ananda Development.
About 30 per cent of TREES criteria come from LEED, with the remainder modified to fit the Thai environment. The criteria were finalised after discussions that began in 2008.
Given the growing green trend, property developers have been introducing different design concepts in their residential projects for both high- and low-rise developments.
For example, Fragrant Property designs its Circle-brand condominium projects under the theme of “eco-friendly innovation living”.
Most Circle condominium projects have solar panels to generate electricity for use in common areas, while a heat-recovery system that uses heat from air-conditioning and can generate heat up to 60 degrees that is converted to pre-heat water for residents.
The projects also recycle water for irrigation, with household wastewater treated in septic tanks before routing through three separate types of filter: multi-filter, carbon filter and micro-filter.
Supalai, meanwhile, designs its high- and low-rise projects using “passive” design, which is a residential design concept that takes the environment into full consideration by taking account of wind flow, sunrise and sunset direction, and the use of eco-construction materials.
“We design our projects as convenient homes for our customers by using architectural design under the passive design theme, which can control cost to suit our customers’ budgets,” said CEO Prateep Tangmatitham.
Given the above trends, construction-material makers have had to research and develop new products to serve the demand for environment-friendly and energy-saving products.
Siam Cement Group (SCG), the country’s largest construction-material company, continues to develop environmentally friendly products for green buildings to complement the Kingdom’s energy-saving projects.
Pichit Maipoom, president of SGC Building Materials, said that in the past year, the company’s products had been well-received by consumers who are environmentally conscious and would like to play their part in alleviating global warming.
It is widely known that SCG Building Materials’ main strength lies in comprehensive products with a one-stop service to cater to the needs of consumers in a wide range of segments, he said.
Last year, the company launched ECO Products, which are environmentally friendly and meet certified standards – SCG Eco Value, the Green Standard Label, Carbon Label and other European, American and Australian standards – he added.
Siam City Cement is another leading construction-material business providing green building products to the market.
The company benefits from technology transferred by its major shareholder, Switzerland’s Holcim group.
“We have been developing green and innovative products since 2007, not only producing innovative products but also renovating our cement plant into a green manufacturing plant by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from the production process into the environment,” said company adviser Chantana Sukumanont.
Asia Cement also develops innovative construction materials after transferring technology from its major shareholder, Italy-based Italcementi group.
A major product focus now is the development of construction materials backed up by an aggressive research programme to create them, said the group’s innovation director, Enrico Borgarello.
He said innovative planning was a still growing feature, but it must develop in the future towards a sustainable environment, benefiting both business and the community in the long term.
“We also design innovative products to meet customer demand, especially for architects who need construction materials that are easy to use and serve their different designs under environmental themes,” he added.
Green architecture and materials are the new era for architects, who have to combine innovation and sustainable building to meet prevailing and future needs amid continuing concern over global climate change.