Mid-market homebuyers are the key to spreading environmental awareness among the public and motivating the government to promote green buildings, says Atch Sreshthaputra, a building energy management expert.
He said the high-end market normally cites image as the reason to go green while energy saving is the major reason for lower-end buyers.
“If mid-market consumers accept the importance of green buildings, the idea will be widely applied,” says Dr Atch, also a lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University.
For residential developers, energy saving is still just a marketing strategy that is not applied on every project, he said.
“The big five developers need not use energy saving as a selling point as their brands can sell on their own. The concept is mostly used by mid-sized to smaller developers,” he says.
Fewer than 1% of all buildings in Thailand are green, Dr Atch estimates. But half of new buildings are applying the green concept.
“Developers and building owners should not put the burden on consumers by constructing a cheap, low-quality building. A quality green building does not need to be higher cost, it merely needs a good design,” he said.
A green building is not just about energy saving and recycled materials but also good indoor air quality, as it affects building users’ health and work productivity.
In the past, a building was designed to prevent hot air from the outside entering the building to save on air-conditioning costs, but this also blocked fresh air from entering the building.
“You need to have a balance between energy saving and fresh air,” he says. “To promote green buildings, the government should give a green building label to any building applying this concept.”
“There was a similar campaign two years ago but it was suspended and just re-implemented this year. It should be carried on consecutively,” he says. The green building label is awarded by the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency.
Last Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed nine Q (green) Building awards to the Padtayapatana Building at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University; the Abdul Rahim Building on Rama IV Road, Bangkok City Tower, GPF Witthayu Tower, Tanyarungroengchai Rice Mill, Ek Burapa School, Pattaya City Hall, U Chu Liang and Siam Paragon.
The Q Building programme is a pilot project aimed at implementing green building standards. Measured by Central Laboratory (Thailand) Co, the programme is based on five quality factors: food, water, indoor air, health safety and environmental safety.
Chakrapan Pawangkarat, a chartered engineer from the Engineering Institute of Thailand, says water quality covers both potable and waste water. Tap water should be filtered and the storage systems checked at least once a year or whenever there is a complaint.
“By law, waste water must be checked before being left at least once a month. There should also be a waste water treatment system to prevent germs originating from the system,” says Dr Chakrapan.
Soisuda Kesornthong of the Disease Control Department suggests all building users maintain good personal hygiene. “When you catch a cold, you need to take sick leave or wear a mask if you go to the office. Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and clean your hands after sneezing,” she says. “Eat a balanced diet, get sufficient sleep and exercise.”
In addition, organisations should provide alcohol-based hand wash, sanitation information, and monitor indoor air quality.
“The efficiency of office workers will likely shrink when air-conditioning systems do not work,” says Lapon Mokkhasmit of Central Laboratory (Thailand). Workplace safety is equally important, he added.
“Thais often have an easy-going way of life, so when there’s a health-related problem, they often ignore it,” he says.
“The Q Building programme will raise the profile of green buildings and alert developers to its importance.”
Source : bangkokpost.com
Middle class leads green drive
The tax breaks was initially introduced on March 2008, when the special business tax was reduced from 3% to 0.1%, and the transfer and mortgage fees cut from 2% and 1% respectively to 0.01%. These incentives were due to end on December 2, 2008, but have effectively been extended until the current May 30 deadline.
The easiest way to own property in Thailand is still by purchasing a condominium. Foreign nationals wishing to buy a condominium have to fulfil one of the following three conditions:
* The foreign national must be a permanent resident, or
* Investment promotion privileges must be obtained from the Board of Investment, or
* The funds used to buy the condominium must originate from a third country.
The last condition means that anyone with sufficient funds is able to purchase a condominium in Thailand. Currently foreign nationals are restricted to buying condominiums only in Bangkok and Pattaya, unless approval has been obtained from the Board of Investment (BOI). There are some restrictions on the number of condominiums in a building that can be owned by foreign nationals. This is usually 49% of the total number of condominiums, but under BOI privileges, this can be waived.
Secondly, the real bargains to be had following the Asian financial meltdown of the late 1990s are becoming more difficult to find, as Thais are aggressively snapping up houses from desperate owners still in negative equity. The effect of inflation means that prices are starting to reflect their proper market value.
Thirdly, real estate prices are predicted to rise steadily over the medium to long-term, as long as the government takes care not to allow the kind of bubble economy that caused so much damage in the 1990s. This is a double-edged sword for the foreign property investor. On the one hand, people who enter the market early enough are likely to see a good return on their investment. On the other hand, getting in on the market is going to cost more.
To be honest, you’ll either love Bangkok or hate it. If you find noise and crowds bothersome, it’s probably not for you. Much of the time, there’s not enough space to walk freely on the sidewalks—they’re spilling over with clothes stalls, food stalls, people doing outdoor cooking, women making flower garlands for the temples, people making clothes on sewing machines—it really is life lived on the street. Be warned that the pollution can be pretty fierce in summer. Even in winter, the street sweepers wear masks.