Buildings still electricity guzzlers
A low-cost apartment building in HCMC. Buildings in Vietnam are and will remain the largest consumers of electricity - PHOTO: TL
HANOI – Buildings in Vietnam are and will remain the largest consumers of electricity despite plenty of regulations on green buildings.
According to the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), the rapidly growing middle class and its associated lifestyle which includes intensive air-conditioning use, accounts for a big proportion of energy consumption growth in the main cities of the country.
Tomaso Andreatta, chairman of the green growth sector committee of EuroCham, said the development of green buildings in Vietnam is still in its infancy with only 40 buildings with green certification.
This is due to a lack of enforcement of regulations and there is little or no incentive to reduce operating costs due to low energy prices.
There are already several measures taken by the Government and the Ministry of Construction since 2010, such as Decision 567/QD-BXD (30-40% non-fired brick usage by 2020); Directive 10/CT-TTg and Circular 09/2012/TT-BXD (100% state projects and other projects over nine floors to have over 50% usage of non-fired brick materials); and Decree 121/2013/ND-CP (VND20-30 million fines for non-compliance). However, the enforcement of these laws is not properly implemented.
Besides, the Vietnam energy efficiency building code (VEEBC) published in 2013 by the Ministry of Construction is legally mandatory and comprehensive, and reflects international and local norms. Nonetheless, the code is poorly disseminated and buildings are not currently required to follow this code to obtain a construction license.
EuroCham recommends the Government provide effective encouragement for building owners to have their buildings certified as green. In addition to international green building certification already available in Vietnam such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of the U.S. Green Building Council and Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) of International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC) issues LOTUS green building certification.
EuroCham will support a move to recognize multiple systems for use in Vietnam, letting the market determine which systems are practical and useful. These systems could be licensed for operation based on a set of simple criteria such as transparency, reliability and coherence according to recognized norms.
EuroCham also recommends the Government encourage all buildings to achieve the minimum standards of the VEEBC code in order to receive a building license at basic design stage. Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) could apply lower power tariffs to buildings with low energy consumption but higher prices to power guzzling buildings.
Tomaso Andreatta said a lot of sustainable building solutions on the market and best practices at companies are available. EuroCham recommends a macro perspective showcase to define incentives and policies to have a clear urban planning design including not only green building but water, waste, traffic and environment livelihood improvement and implementation towards a smart city vision.
According to real estate developers, operators will benefit from green buildings. Property developers can use green building certification for their apartment buildings as a way of improving publicity while homeowners can benefit.
Tran Nhu Trung, deputy general director of Nam Cuong Corporation, one of the real estate developers which have set a goal of obtaining EDGE certification of IFC for all its buildings in 2020, said energy consumption in buildings with EDGE certification is 20-27% lower than in normal ones whereas construction cost may increase 2% to 5%.
Poul E. Kristense, senior technical adviser to the Vietnam Green Buildings Program of World Bank/IFC Hanoi, said, according to Danish experience, there is a need for state regulation to support the development of green buildings. Instead of building new power plants, the Government of Vietnam should support construction of green buildings to save energy to reduce the use of fossil fuels.