The impetus toward sustainable design increased with the launch in 1990 of the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), the first green building rating system in the world. Green building rating or certification systems widen the focus beyond the product to consider the project as a whole. In 2000, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) followed this pursuit and established criteria targeted at improving the environmental performance of buildings through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new construction. Since then, LEED has continued to grow in eminence and to embrace rating systems for existing buildings and entire neighbourhoods. The four LEED certification levels are designated as Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified.
In the year 2008, the Sustainable Built Environment Initiative – Bangladesh (now Bangladesh Green Building Council) was founded. They assembled all the major stakeholders in one platform and worked towards realization of their common goal of “Greener country”. They proposed a centralized board which will offer LEED certification facilitation works to any firm or project interested in attaining it. Over the years, LEED certification became the gold standard in sustainable green building all around the world. Many new projects in Bangladesh during the past decade used LEED Certification. LEED-certified buildings in Dhaka, is becoming a common phenomenon. There are 122 LEED-certified buildings in Bangladesh, of which 24 are in Dhaka, with the majority of them being industrial, as that is the sector generating the most pollution. At the same time, more and more commercial buildings are stirring towards attaining LEED certification. LEED certificate is given generally on various parameters like sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, recyclable materials and resource, indoor environmental quality and regional priority etc.
Presently there is no designated green building rating system in Bangladesh. Now a day’s developers and factory owners are intended to have a green and energy-efficient building. USGBC LEED certification is becoming a popular rating system for high-end commercial and compliance textile factory building. Bangladesh Bank is supporting energy efficiency in buildings with soft loan facilities under their refinancing scheme. Single-digit loan (maximum 9%) facilities are available for LEED-certified factories. This sort of contribution through Sustainable banking principle is commendable for accelerating green construction.
But existing policies presupposes a passive approach towards energy efficiency in building construction. Such as The Dhaka Mahanagar Imarat Nirman Bidhimala -2008 mainly focuses on enforcement of the building set back, floor area ratio, maximum ground coverage, mandatory open space which replicates passive approach to reduce the energy usage in the building. Active regulation and squared technical inspection for reducing energy usage in the building are mandatory to implement the motto of ‘going green’ with vertical development.
The upcoming Bangladesh national building code (BNBC) is designed to speed up green building principles. Separate chapter is dedicated in the proposed BNBC to enhance the design and construction of buildings through the use of building concepts having a positive environmental impact and encourage sustainable construction practices, countenance efficiency and conservation of energy, water and building materials, and to promote resource efficiency.
Earlier, The Housing and Building Research Institute developed a Recommendation for Green Building Code in 2012 with the technical assistance of IFC. Its target is not only on energy/water use efficiency but also on the reduction of environmental impact caused by building construction, use and decommissioning. The survey for the Recommendation of Green Building Code portrayed that the baseline energy consumption of Dhaka is about 277 kw/h/m2 / year. According to this study, the Green Building Rating for upcoming new buildings will save 300MW energy per year which is equal to preserve setup of one power plant in each year. Present construction systems in Bangladesh are not energy and water-efficient which leads to high energy and water demand in the building sector.
Electricity supply and consumption in the country has almost tripled in the last decade. The main source of electricity is fossil fuels, accounting for 96% of the total output (Source Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), leading to high GHG and intensive power generation. The energy consumption projection also delineates the required energy generation to be used in different sectors.
It is evident from experiences of neighbouring countries that rating or labelling systems for green buildings is an effective tool for incentivizing the construction sector and material suppliers to convert the whole process “greener” by projecting more sustainable building practices. For transmitting instantaneous benefits and inaugurating a plea for green buildings thus requires a multi-dimensional approach. Various collaborative aspects, such as raising awareness on pay-back periods, creating technical expertise of green building and their construction, or access to affordable finance need to be reflected in forthcoming regulations in this regard.
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of Law and Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific