New Buildings ‘should have’ More Green Spaces
Greening a building can make a world of difference. Photo Credit: Max Pixel
The government mandates a minimum of 10% for green spaces in new commercial and housing developments around Malaysian cities. But that amount is precious little.
So says an architect, Alan Teh. “The design of many high-rise buildings tend to alienate people, meaning they don’t get to interact with others as how people in villages do,” he elucidated in an interview with FMT News.
We agree. Rather than just add a touch of greenery here and there, all new developments should embrace green spaces as integral parts of their designs. Because of its tropical climate, the architect explains, Malaysia is ideally suited to incorporate lush green spaces into building designs, if only as cascades of plants on walls or as part of roof gardens.
“We tend to take our country’s climate for granted. We have the perfect conditions for tropical plants to grow easily and we have access to a wide variety of trees and plants suited for our weather,” he told the newspaper. “In countries like Japan, they have to cover the trees during winter to protect them from the cold, and this shows how much they value greenery.”
Albeit plenty more needs to be done, Malaysia has made some progress in spreading the idea of green buildings. The country’s Green Building Index (GBI) provides guidelines for developers, construction companies and investors to design and build new constructions in the most environmentally sustainable ways possible. Green buildings are geared towards much more efficient uses of resources from energy to water. Through their construction and energy-saving operation, GBI-approved buildings are designed to reduce their impacts on the surrounding environment throughout their entire lifecycle.
Ideally, a true eco-building’s energy savings should be net zero, which means that a building should use only as much energy as it can itself save or produce on site by help of renewables. That can still be a tall order for most home owners, largely because of the extra expenses involved. Encouragingly, however, the idea of energy-efficient buildings is catching on in Malaysia.
Yet even if a building is not wholly eco-friendly, it can still be equipped with more green spaces. A mere 10% is indeed too paltry a ratio. For starters, rooftop gardens, walls covered in vegetation and other simple add-ons can make a big difference in turning a new building a whole lot greener, both literally and figuratively.