Capable design consultants needed for energy efficiency buildings

Posted at: THUrsday - 09/08/2012 11:08 - post name: Nguyễn Mai Nhiệm
The Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa won second prize in tropical building category at the 2012 Southeast Asian energy efficiency building contest. Most of Vietnamese buildings achieved this prestigious prize were tropical buildings (over 50 percent of floor area without the use of air conditioning), whereas new and restored buildings have not achieved this prize. The main reason is the progress made in design consultancy. Energy Conservation Center of HCMC director Huynh Kim Tuoc talked about design consultancy problems in an interview with Vietnam Economic News' reporter Phuong Lan.

What is your opinion on the Vietnamese buildings participating in the contest?
The Southeast Asian energy efficiency building contest is an annual competition with the purpose of highlighting energy efficient buildings. It also calls for the wider application of energy efficiency solutions for the community. In the last six years, Vietnam had won 10 awards out of the 18 participating buildings in the contest. However, six of the 10 winners in were in the tropical building category, and were mainly resorts. Most new and restored buildings have not won prizes.
What are the reasons for the failure of new and restored buildings?
An energy efficiency building must be based on three factors, including design, technology and energy management. However, all three factors of Vietnam are still limited, especially in architectural designs.
Restored buildings have not won prizes because of backward technology solutions, building materials and energy management. In the countries which have buildings that won the contest's highest prize, such as Malaysia and Singapore, they have a force of capable design consultants with a foundation of good architecture, good energy and technology management and suitable institutions. Vietnam does not have design consultants, including architects, mechanical and electrical designers and energy management system designers to meet demand. In many new construction projects, investors often have to hire foreign design consultants. Plus the education system in the professional architecture and construction institutes has not focused on energy efficiency building solutions, so Vietnamese architects don't have much information about the technology, equipment or energy saving solutions, such as refrigeration and heating equipment or building materials. Vietnamese design consultants have not had opportunities to participate in training courses to design green and energy efficiency buildings. In addition, the standard system to evaluate Vietnam's green buildings lacks reality, such as construction standards set by the Ministry of Construction and Lotus certification. Energy efficiency has been partly applied in Vietnam's new buildings. Therefore, effectiveness is suboptimal.
To further improve the effectiveness of design consultants to improve energy efficiency in new buildings, it is necessary to implement optimal energy efficiency measures. What are these solutions?
It is necessary to have synchronized solutions. The first solution is to quickly build a team of qualified design consultants by bringing the knowledge of energy efficiency to the teaching process at universities. With the urgent requirements of energy efficiency, design consultants should also update their knowledge of green buildings so they can be incorporated into their designs. When building a team of design consultants under current standards, such as the construction standard in Vietnam or Lotus certification (Vietnam), Leed (US) and Green Mark (Singapore), the effectiveness of energy efficiency in new buildings will certainly increase.
However, to improve the effectiveness of design consultants, the standard system to evaluate green buildings have to be really effective since this will provide a foundation, an environment and conditions to apply green designs and energy efficiency. A design consultancy team is a prerequisite. However, the environment for this team is very important to promote efficiency./.

Author: Phuong Lan
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