Executives at the Siam Cement Group (SCG) Building Materials business shared this insight last week, as they unveiled the group’s new business – green building consulting.
Both Saravut Sumransub, managing director of the marketing-housing business, and Kanapapha Akapha, manager of green solutions, are bullish that this should prompt commercial building developers or even residential developers to use the green image to boost business.
“We’re making inroads into this business to raise green awareness, as Thailand is still a laggard in environmental issues. From buildings, soon there will be green houses,” Saravut said last week.
“This business is in line with our core values that also highlight social responsibility. Construction materials can help tackle climate change issues. This consultancy service is developed on our expertise in construction materials.”
The momentum is strong, thanks to the established concerns among multinational companies. These companies demand space in buildings that promise lower energy usage and more environmental-friendly features.
The awareness is spreading to local companies that want to be recognised as socially-responsible citizens. The Thai authorities have also decided to amend the building code to allow all buildings – certified as green by Thai Green Building Institute’s TREES rating systems – to increase their floor-area ratio by 5-10 per cent.
The US Green Building Council (USGBC) award for leadership in energy and environmental design, or LEED, and TREES are the two major prizes these green developers and companies are looking for.
A green building is one that emphasises users, energy and water savings, and community impacts. To win a LEED award, a building needs to meet seven criteria and score at least 85 out of 110 points.
In the sustainable site category, SCG’s 100th Year Building won 26 out of 28 points thanks to the limited impacts of the building on the outside community.
Nittha Pusachewa, an accredited professional, said this is warranted by the same green area even though trees were cut down. A link with the MRT and facilities to support green transportation modes are also provided.
It also grabbed four points in regional priorities, thanks to its success in reducing energy and water usage – as both issues are critical in this region. The building also won 10 points in the water efficiency category, due to the water drainage system that highlights recycling.
Banking on its success in achieving LEED Platinum level for three buildings, SCG’s new business is ready to help clients obtain the awards.
Services cover feasibility studies, architectural design, construction management and operations. Equipped with 10 professionals accredited by USGBC, Green Building Solution is now working on about 40 projects including factories, to help them apply for LEED and TREES awards and others under different rating systems.
This is on top of many other projects it has advised on in the past two years, including more than 18 outlets of Starbucks Thailand and more than 15 showrooms of Toyota nationwide.
Kanapapha said the services are available for new buildings, old buildings and interior or retail spaces. Clients will be billed by the hour. The records show that a Starbucks outlet initially required 150-200 hours of consulting, but she is convinced that this would be lower as the staff have more experience now.
“We have been the consultant for Toyota showrooms since 2012, beginning with existing building operation and maintenance. Today, our existing building operation and maintenance service for Toyota has expanded to more than 15 showrooms nationwide.
“The partnership has also extended to full consulting for TREES certification with some showrooms already certified and others in the process of certification, such as Toyota Thaiyen in Nakhon Ratchasima, Toyota Petra, Toyota Ban Chang and Toyota Suphan Buri,” she said.
In advising clients, the unit will offer both SCG and non-SCG products, banking on its experience with the 100th Year Building, which was the third to scoop a LEED Platinum award.
Of all construction materials by SCG, about 30 per cent is now labelled as eco-friendly. Due to the specification of energy-saving features, the building costs about 10 per cent more than non-green buildings of the same size. Serving as the head office of the company, the building has drawn many visitors.
The investment is worthwhile, she said. While it is friendlier to the environment, by global standards, due to increasing energy prices, the investment could break even in seven to eight years.
“Developers in general look into the operating cost upon completion. Yet, for green buildings, all costs are factored in from the design stage. From the start, we need to know how this equipment will help save energy or water,” she said.
Saravut said the trend is increasing that executives of large companies are concerned about environmental issues. Most new buildings in the planning stage are applying to be truly green buildings.
“The Thai market for green building is growing constantly. For a good image, it is inevitable that everyone will need to be socially responsible, if they can afford it. Then, they will know that the returns are attractive,” he said.