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Towards greener "Green"

Dony Pasaribu, Baltimore | Sat, 11/14/2009 1:11 PM | Opinion

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In recent news, Jakarta authorities stated that "Green Building" principles must be applied to new buildings in Jakarta starting next year. The city is currently preparing the "Green Building" regulation. This is truly a progressive move towards a better Jakarta. Not even in developed countries such as United States has "green building" become an obligation by regulation or code. This news is very positive and exciting but at the same time raises some serious questions about how to make this intention a reality in such a short time. To some of us "Green Building" probably means literally "green": put some plants and shrubs on a building facade and it is a green building. In reality, to call a building "green" is not that simple, at all. Even definition and criteria of green building vary greatly. The following issues might be worth looking at if we want to apply "Green Building" as the requirement for new buildings in Jakarta. First is about code and (Technical) standards. "Green Building" in general is expected to exceed the regular building performance required by standard. In order to exceed the requirement, we must have a set of technical standards to begin with. Creating technical standards takes a huge amount of efforts and involves many parties over a long period of time. For the purpose of "Green Building" in Jakarta, we must start with the national standards that we already have (SNI) and set the requirements that exceed the standards to satisfy our definition of "Green Building". Defining the basic criteria for building performance is crucial before we move further to "Green Building". Let us not forget that a green building is an improvement of a well-designed building that meets the basic criteria. Second is about public transportation and alternative modes of transportation. One of the main goals of "Green Building" is to promote the use of public transportation in lieu of private vehicles (Cars, motorcycles) for building occupants. This is critical in "Green Building" issues to reduce pollution from vehicle emissions as well as environmental impact from oil extraction and refining. There are various ways to do this, such as building in a site already connected to public transportation; promoting alternative transportation (bicycles); reducing parking capacity etc. Overuse of private vehicles and lack of proper public transportation has been a classic problem for Jakarta. In the "Green Building" context, we can not promote the use of public transportation while there is no proper public transportation yet. The lack of proper public transportation in Jakarta might become an obstacle for implementing the "Green Building" standard. Third, it is important to know about compliant building materials and technology. Implementing "Green Building" principles is almost impossible without these components. "Green Building" principles may be applied to many aspects of building materials: reuse and recycled content in certain material, the use of local/regional material, low emitting material, just to name a few. Although it is understandable that local building material compliance process will take time, it is crucial to involve the (local) building material industries at the early phase of "Green Building" implementation. "Green Building" can also stimulate new business for local building industries. Supporting technology contributes greatly to improve building performance. A few examples are the use of waterefficient toilet fixtures to reduce water use; lighting control to increase energy efficiency; the use of alternative energy for electricity, etc. The need for "Green Building" could stimulate inventions within our local resources such as industries or research organizations and universities. Heavy dependence on imported technology will contradict the essence of "Green Building" philosophy. Fourth, let us discuss about construction industry and professional practice. "Green Building" standards and compliance will eventually be translated and incorporated in everyday practices of construction industry professionals. Incorporating a new thing ("Green Building") to existing working platform/common practice within key players in construction industry is much easier than starting from scratch. Standardized practice for

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Towards greener "Green" | The Jakarta Post

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professionals such as architects or engineers is prerequisite for implementation of "Green Building" standard. For example, how do we incorporate the green building requirements to material specifications if architects don't even have the standard format of specifications? Heavy involvement of professional associations is highly critical to resolve many issues that will rise even before the implementation of "Green Building" standard. In the end, it all comes down to certification procedure and verification of the standard. Without proper procedure and verification, a building will only be "green" on paper. A semi-independent council consists of both city officials and professionals that handle the certification process could be created or utilized from existing organizations. Online submission should be considered, not just for the ease and practicality but also to reduce paper waste. Verification in the field is also another big challenge. Readiness of city/council officials to verify the implementation of "Green Building" standard must start with thorough understanding of the "Green Building". Education and training of both city officials and (construction) professionals must start before the "Green Building" regulation is implemented. To many of us, "green" Jakarta has always been a dream. Let us hope that soon it will become reality. The writer is an architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and currently working in US.

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