Going green: Currently possible yet unpractical

Lately, there has been much fanfare about going ‘Green’ and this brought me back to May 2009 when I visited the Malaysia Energy Centre at Bangi, a newly opened Zero Energy Office initiated by the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (MEWC) to promote things that could be done in a building to save energy, be it domestic, business or factory. The visit to this building made me further appreciate an energy saving bulb. The government building, not surprisingly was equipt with all sorts of modern technology from beneath the floors where people walk to the roof top. To prove its point, the building had to make do with a variety of imported items since they are locally unavailable. I accepted this building is merely a showroom to prove that such technology works and it does so convincingly: deflected natural lighting lights up office space, solar energy supplies electricity and rain water recycled then put to good use. I was rather surprised that approval to install these green components did not take a long time and  not much queried by the approving authorities. Some of the techniques used have been available a long time but not optimized. Double glazing and cooling air vents were just some. After a short brief and visit to the exhibition corner to sample components used, there was a tour to the roof top to observe solar panels then back and see how energy was conserved.  I also saw how rain water was collected, routed and recycled. The trip was an eye opener and very educational. It was concluded that although the proof was in the pudding and the results tasted nice and encouraging,  MEWC admitted that until and unless the local construction industry comes up with the much needed components and at competitive prices, going green in the Malaysian building and construction industry is going  to be more of an academic exercise and an unattractive venture for the masses.

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