Green Building - The Past
Over the past ten years, South East Asia has seen an increase in the popularity of green building development. Sustainable building techniques significantly increased in the region between 2005 and 2015, as many nations adopted green building certification programs and laws.
Green building certifications, such as LEED and Green Mark, have grown significantly in South East Asia. The Asia Pacific region saw an increase in certifications from 238 in 2007 to over 2,800 in 2016, with Singapore leading the way with its Green Mark scheme launched in 2005. In 2009, Malaysia launched its Green Building Index (GBI), a green building certification scheme for Malaysia.
According to the World Green Building Council's 2019 report on the global green building market, the Asia Pacific region has the highest number of green building projects with over 50,000 projects representing 68.5 million square meters of certified space. The report also states that this number is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
Green Building - The Present and Challenges
One problem is that a building's green building certification does not always imply that it is more energy efficient than other buildings. This is due to the fact that many certification systems have various certification standards, making it challenging to compare buildings that have received certification under various systems on an apple-to-apple basis.
Even within the same certification scheme, the certification level doesn't guarantee efficiency or performance when compared to similar buildings. Some (or most) of the certifications only take usage intensity without taking into account other various factors, such as actual occupancy rate.
Let's take the shopping mall for example, mall A has a rating of Silver and mall B has a rating of Platinum. If mall A has more visitors, that directly affects the energy and water consumption of the shopping mall, compared with mall B which has a lower visitor rate but lower consumption, does this mean that mall B is greener than mall A?
So, how do an Apple-to-Apple comparison?
The question is, how do we make a fair comparison between the malls? That is still a big question in green building applications. Comparison of buildings should go beyond intensity or usage-based, it should include much more factors and comparison should be holistic, some of the matrices that should be used:
Macro category buildings, i.e office, retail, school, factory, hospital etc
Micro category of buildings i.e open/closed retail, F&B, public/private school, a major hospital, specialist hospital, etc
Operating Hour and Days
Occupancy, i.e Full Time Employee (FTE), Visitors
Gross Floor Area (GFA)
AC (Air-conditioning) Area
Natural ventilated/Mechanical ventilated NV Area
Energy Usage (Grid supply/Renewable energy on/off-site)
Water Usage (potable & non-potable)
Waste Generation (landfill/diverted/reuse/recycle)
Site & Transportation
So, the million dollars question is HOW CAN WE COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES and REALLY KNOW HOW THE BUILDINGS PERFORM AGAINST ONE ANOTHER?
Green Building - The Future - Performance Benchmarking
In late 2016, USGBC developed the Arc platform, which is an online platform that provides a performance measurement and benchmarking tool for buildings and spaces. It allows building owners and operators to track and measure their sustainability performance, set goals for improvement, and compare their performance against other buildings using the Arc's scoring system. The Arc platform can also help buildings earn certifications such as LEED by providing an efficient way to collect and manage data required for certification.
Arc Platform: https://arcskoru.com/ (Free usage and with premium paid-to-unlock function)
Picture: Example of energy performance benchmarking on Arc platform
Picture: Arc Dashboard displaying and benchmarking 7 different building performance parameters
It works by collecting data on a variety of sustainability metrics, such as energy use, water consumption, waste management, transportation, and human experience. This data is then used to calculate a score for the building, based on how well it performs against a set of global average and local average benchmarks.
Your building will benchmark not only be evaluated on the energy usage and GFA square meter area but other matrices such as macro category buildings, i.e office, retail, school, factory, hospital etc, micro category of buildings i.e open/closed retail, F&B, public/private school, a major hospital, specialist hospital, etc, operating Hours and days, occupancy, i.e Full Time Employee (FTE), Visitors, AC (Air-conditioning) Area, Natural ventilated/Mechanical ventilated Area, Water Usage (potable & non-potable), Waste Generation (landfill/diverted/reuse/recycle), Site & Transportation, and Occupant experience.
Check out the 1-hour webinar on how to use the tools to benchmark your existing building below:
Steps to get Arc dashboard going (benchmarking the buildings)
Data Collection: Input data on their building's performance through the Arc platform. This data can be collected automatically through smart meters, or manually through surveys and other forms of data entry.
Scoring System: The Arc platform uses a scoring system to rate the building's performance on a variety of sustainability metrics. The score is based on how well the building performs against benchmarks and can be used to track progress over time.
Goals and Improvement: Building owners and operators can use the Arc platform to set goals for improving their building's sustainability performance. The platform provides recommendations and best practices for achieving these goals and allows users to track their progress over time.
Certification: The Arc platform can also be used to achieve certifications such as LEED, by inputting data into the platform, building owners and operators can collect the necessary data and documentation required for certification.
Data Visualization: The Arc platform provides a range of data visualization tools, such as charts and graphs, to help building owners and operators better understand their building's sustainability performance and identify areas for improvement.
In conclusion, as the demand for sustainability in buildings continues to grow, it's becoming increasingly clear that conventional green building certifications are no longer sufficient or valid.
Going forward, it's essential to have a global benchmarking tool that considers a wide range of factors that impact the sustainability performance of buildings. The Arc platform by the USGBC is an example of such a tool. It takes into account factors such as energy usage, GFA square meter of the area, macro and micro categories of buildings, operating hours and days, occupancy, water usage, waste generation, site and transportation, and occupant experience.
It enables building owners and operators to track and improve their sustainability performance over time, set goals for improvement, and earn certifications.
In the future, the adoption of such a tool is likely to become increasingly important as more organizations seek to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and meet the growing demand for environmentally responsible buildings. The Arc platform by the USGBC is an excellent example of how we can create a more sustainable future by adopting a holistic and comprehensive approach to building sustainability.