Towards greener, healthier urban lives

July 21, 2020 | 09:00
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Green buildings and energy-efficient realty projects have received much global attention in past years and the latest moves from the government show that Vietnam is refusing to be left behind. Vu Ngoc Anh, director of the Science-Technology and Environment Department under the Ministry of Construction (MoC), talked with VIR’s Mai Hanh the country’s attempts to develop green properties.
1501p8 towards greener healthier urban lives
Vu Ngoc Anh, director of the Science-Technology and Environment Department under the Ministry of Construction

The National Assembly recently passed a draft law amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Construction, which encourages certification of energy-efficient projects. What is your view on the developments?

People today pay attention to not only the real estate projects with fair value but also the ones which bring comfort, health, and environmental benefits. This motivates investors to come up with new development ideas to provide projects with green elements and energy efficiency.

The National Strategy on Green Growth was previously approved in Decision No.1393/QD-TTg in 2012, viewing that green growth must be by humans and for humans, ensuring rapid, effective, and sustainable economic development and contributing to accomplishing the national strategy on climate change. Therefore, the amendments and supplements show the government’s interest in stepping up energy-sustainable projects. This is also a major step for Vietnam to keep up with the growing global trends in expanding green buildings and green urban areas.

Using energy efficiently is an important factor when evaluating green buildings. The inclusion of this content in the law can be seen as a premise for the development of specific legal provisions for development in Vietnam – one of the tasks assigned to the MoC which has been outlined in the National Green Growth Strategy.

What has the MoC been doing to implement the government’s policies towards this strategy?

First of all, we need to clarify the concept of green buildings. They stand for an environmentally-responsible philosophy and method of designing and operating buildings, ensuring sustainable development for future generations. The concept also refers to buildings and projects developed under such philosophy, especially those that have been evaluated or certified by an independent third party. Some green building goals include avoiding wasting energy, clean water, and other resources, reducing waste, pollution, and improving indoor quality of living.

Around the world, the development of energy-efficient buildings contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to minimise the impact of climate change and sustainable development.

The Vietnamese government has also shown strong commitment in joining the Kyoto Protocol or more recently the Paris Agreement. Therefore, enhancing green and energy-efficient buildings is one of several indispensable solutions. After the Law on Economical and Efficient Use of Energy came into life a decade ago, the MoC also issued the National Technical Regulation on Energy Efficiency Building No.09:2013/BXD and the recently revised 2017 version and accompanying document.

Over past years, with co-operation and support from international organisations such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), USAID, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the MoC has organised many training courses to enhance the application of the regulation in designing and constructing buildings. The MoC will issue the Action Plan on energy efficiency in the construction sector to implement National Green Growth Strategy and the National Energy Efficiency Programme (VNEEP) for the period of 2019-2030. Along with that, the MoC has also been conducting studies on building criteria for green buildings and urban areas.

What should be done to make green, energy-efficient buildings an inevitable trend?

Currently, the government has yet to announce the form of certificating green buildings and energy efficient constructions. Green building certification has only been implemented by a number of international organisations in Vietnam such as the IFC and Vietnam Green Building Council. However, it is so far a modest number of green buildings invested and certified, compared to those in other regional countries. The VNEEP for the period of 2019-2030 has set a target for the construction industry by 2025 to have at least 80 projects certified as green buildings and energy-efficient projects, and 150 by 2030. This is not an impossible task if we are entitled to adequate legal corridors and comprehensive measures for this.

First of all, the construction industry needs to come up with a specific programme and action plan with key tasks to support the development of green, energy-efficient buildings in the period of 2020-2030 and the coming years. In addition, the MoC is gradually completing the system of regulations, standards, criteria and technical guidelines for the design, construction, operation, and management of green and energy-efficient buildings; the system of norms, unit price, construction investment rate, developing the criteria for evaluation and certification of green buildings; mechanisms and policies to encourage investment in green and energy efficiency buildings; developing green and energy efficiency building materials; studies on developing and applying green and energy efficiency technologies in construction works. These missions are currently being implemented with the support of the UNDP, GEF, and through the project on Promoting Energy Efficiency in the commercial and high-rise residential buildings in Vietnam.

By Mai Hanh

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