Malaysia, a rapidly developing nation with a burgeoning population, is facing increased demand for housing. However, this growth has come at a cost, with deforestation and land clearing putting pressure on the country’s natural resources. Thankfully, there’s a growing movement to address these challenges through sustainable housing, which offers numerous benefits for both homeowners and the environment, combating climate change and pollution.
Sustainable housing, also known as ecological green housing or energy-efficient housing, has gained popularity as it consumes fewer resources during construction compared to traditional housing. These homes are designed to minimize their environmental impact through the use of renewable energy sources, reduced energy consumption, and sustainable building materials. They can also be designed to withstand the challenges of climate change.
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) in Malaysia recognizes the importance of green building. They state that “the concept of green building is reshaping construction approaches, and Malaysia stands ready to embrace it early on while acknowledging the potential economic and environmental advantages it offers.” Green buildings not only reduce environmental impact but also provide significant cost savings, particularly in electricity consumption.
Maureen Yeo, Regional Asia Director at Andermatt Swiss Alps, shared her thoughts on sustainable homes, emphasizing that they are designed to minimize environmental impact and maximize energy efficiency. She highlighted that true sustainability goes beyond features like solar panels, considering factors such as construction materials, location, and lifestyle. In Andermatt, developments strictly adhere to the Minergie Swiss building standard, ensuring low energy consumption, minimal greenhouse gas emissions, and the incorporation of renewable energies for self-sufficiency.
Malaysia’s equivalent to such standards is the Green Building Index (GBI), established in 2009 to promote sustainability in construction. GBI-certified buildings offer energy and water savings, improved indoor environments, better connectivity to public transport, and eco-friendly practices to reduce carbon footprints.
A Growing Trend
Malaysia is witnessing a surge in green buildings and sustainable development projects, thanks to government efforts to promote green building investment and demand. Initiatives like the Green Technology Financing Scheme and green tax incentives have raised awareness among developers and future homeowners, driving the trend toward sustainable living.
Challenges and Viability
While sustainable housing gains popularity, the affordability of eco-friendly components remains a concern. Components such as rainwater harvesting systems, solar panels, and energy-efficient appliances can be expensive, and some must be imported. The hot and humid Malaysian weather presents unique challenges for rainwater harvesting and solar panel use. Despite initial costs, Yeo pointed out that sustainable homes are designed for long-term investment and cost savings. Many technologies have minimal maintenance needs and long lifespans, contributing to lower overall costs.
Are Malaysians on Board?
The interest in sustainable property is on the rise in Malaysia, with energy performance being a top priority for future homebuyers, according to a Global Buyer Survey. However, there is still a gap between what Malaysians are willing to pay for green homes and the actual construction costs. Sustainable homes are considered a future-proof investment due to their economic and environmental benefits. They appreciate in value as climate change and environmental conservation gain importance.
Governmental Support for Sustainability
The Malaysian government is actively supporting sustainability through initiatives like the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG2030). These initiatives aim to advance green growth, enhance energy sustainability, and transform the water efficiency sector, aligning with global sustainability goals. Malaysia’s commitment to sustainability extends to its involvement in the Asean Sustainable Development Goals Indicator development works.
In conclusion, sustainable housing in Malaysia is not just a trend; it’s a vital step towards a greener and more sustainable future. With government support and increasing awareness among Malaysians, the transition to eco-friendly living is gaining momentum, ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future for all.