Eco Friendly Living: Green Building Trends in Asia

Green Building Evolution and Future in Southeast Asia

The rapid development of green building in Southeast Asia is a response to the unique challenge posed by the region’s limited land availability and its growing population. This region is characterized by a tropical monsoon climate, which influences the architectural design and energy needs of buildings. Specifically, there is a high demand for cooling systems and an abundance of renewable energy resources. To cater to these specific requirements, a plethora of green building technologies have been innovated and adapted. However, the effectiveness of these technologies can vary significantly across different parts of the region, necessitating a thorough evaluation of their application in tropical environments.

This study undertakes a comprehensive review of the various green building technologies currently employed in Southeast Asia. It delves into their characteristics and assesses their potential for application in this region. The initial focus is on providing an overview of green buildings, including their definition, evolution, and assessment tools specific to Southeast Asia.

In recent times, many countries in Southeast Asia have integrated green building practices into their government projects, driven by commitments to The Paris Agreement and the economic impact of Covid-19. Green buildings offer a solution to the high energy consumption associated with building construction. Beyond environmental advantages, these buildings also provide substantial life-cycle cost savings, with research indicating that green buildings can reduce energy consumption by at least 30% compared to conventional structures. For instance, in Malaysia, a green-certified office building consumes only 46% of the energy used by a conventional building, with an investment payback period of within eight years. This trend is further fueled by the region’s growing population and limited land availability, making green building an increasingly necessary approach.

Singapore is at the forefront of this movement in Southeast Asia, with its Green Mark Scheme being the first green building rating system designed specifically for tropical climates. This scheme has been adopted by other Southeast Asian nations, indicating a growing regional commitment to sustainable building practices.

Green Building Components: A Closer Look

The examination then extends to five critical aspects of green building: the building envelope, equipment, renewable energy utilization, water conservation, and greenery systems. Each of these components is analyzed with a keen consideration of the climatic and resource-specific characteristics of Southeast Asia. Such an in-depth review is pivotal in understanding how these technologies can be effectively adapted to address the energy-saving challenges faced by buildings in this region.

The concept of green building is pivotal for its promotion and implementation. However, defining what constitutes a green building is a subject of considerable debate. For instance, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) describes a green building as one that minimizes negative impacts and creates positive effects on our climate and natural environment throughout its design, construction, or operation phases. Despite various interpretations, it is clear that the essence of green building lies in its sustainability and environmental friendliness.

Renewable Energy Sources in Southeast Asia: Solar and Beyond

The tropical monsoon climate of Southeast Asia significantly influences building design, leading to a high demand for cooling systems and an opportunity for the integration of renewable energy resources. Despite the high potential for renewable energy in the region, it currently meets only about 15% of the area’s energy demands. However, by 2025, ASEAN member nations aim to source 23% of all primary energy from renewable sources. Indonesia, for example, possesses about 40% of the world’s geothermal resources, with an exploitable potential of 27GW. Similarly, Thailand utilizes sustainable biomass for power generation, while Indonesia leads in the production of liquid biofuels in the region. The integration of solar, geothermal, and wind energy with buildings is an emerging trend in the area.

Solar energy utilization, particularly photothermal and photoelectric methods, is prevalent in Southeast Asia due to the region’s high solar insolation. In countries like Thailand, the average solar insolation is about 1875 kWh/m2 per year. Solar water heating systems are increasingly common in residential buildings, with their adaptability making them a popular choice in architectural design across Southeast Asia.

Building Design for Energy Efficiency in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, the region’s geographical and climatic characteristics significantly influence the choice of materials and insulation methods for building walls. The hot and humid climate presents unique challenges, particularly in terms of moisture-proofing and insulation. The thermal properties of materials are crucial in determining their resistance to solar radiation. Similarly, the insulation layer plays a significant role in affecting the U-value during transient heat flow, which is vital for maintaining energy efficiency.

Given the region’s hot climate, selecting efficient and energy-saving cooling systems is crucial in architectural design. This includes considering the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and geothermal energy, in traditional cold and heat source systems. An emerging innovation in this area is the use of district cooling systems, which centralize the production of cooling energy for multiple buildings, enhancing efficiency and sustainability.

Water Conservation Strategies

Despite the region’s abundant rainfall, fresh water scarcity is an issue in some Southeast Asian countries. Singapore, for example, imports most of its fresh water due to limited territory. To address this, Singapore has implemented water-saving measures such as a mandatory water-saving labeling scheme, toilet replacement programs, and smart shower initiatives.

The Role of Vertical Greenery Systems

Greenery systems play a crucial role in realizing the concept of green building. These systems can reduce heat gain, lower microenvironment temperatures, increase air humidity, and mitigate the urban heat island effect. In Singapore, green areas cover 45% of the land, showcasing the country’s commitment to integrating ecological features in urban development.

Impact of Geographical Conditions on Green Building Technologies

In Southeast Asia, geographical and climatic conditions significantly influence green building technology research, development, promotion, and costs. The focus on energy-saving potential and thermal comfort is heightened due to the region’s hot and humid climate. Additionally, the challenges posed by rainy and windy weather require innovative approaches in architectural design to ensure sustainability and efficiency in green buildings.

Challenges and Future Outlook of Green Building in Southeast Asia

Climate Considerations

The growth of green building in Southeast Asia, underscored by the reduction in building energy consumption, faces unique challenges due to the region’s hot and humid tropical climate. This climatic factor plays a significant role in shaping the approach and methods employed in green building practices.

Policy and Economic Factors

Additionally, the rapid economic growth in the region, coupled with abundant resources and an increasing population, presents both opportunities and challenges. Effective policies need to be implemented to facilitate the development of green buildings. Economic factors also play a crucial role, as they influence the availability and allocation of resources for green building projects.

Educational and Transportation Aspects

Another important consideration is education, which is essential for promoting awareness and knowledge about green building practices. Transportation, being a significant part of urban planning, also needs to be integrated into the green building design to ensure sustainable development.

The study also addresses the existing technological challenges and offers a glimpse into the future of green building technologies in Southeast Asia. This aspect is crucial for identifying emerging research trends and common themes, thereby serving as a valuable reference for further development in the field of green building within the region.

To meet the unique demands of local buildings, a myriad of relevant green building technologies have been developed. However, most research has been limited to specific aspects of these technologies, such as greenery systems, thermal performance, energy consumption, or energy utilization. The varying potential of these techniques across different regions necessitates a detailed examination of their application in tropical climates.

Need for Comprehensive Review and Future Directions

Despite the progress, there is a lack of exhaustive and systematic analysis of green building technologies in Southeast Asia. This study aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive review of the different existing green building technologies in the region and analyzing their application potential. The review begins with an overview of green building in Southeast Asia, followed by an in-depth examination of five key aspects: building envelope, equipment, renewable energy utilization, water conservation, and greenery systems. This systematic approach is particularly focused on the climate and resource characteristics of Southeast Asia. The study also addresses existing technological challenges and future prospects.

This comprehensive review is vital for highlighting future research trends and identifying common research streams. It serves as a reference not only for the development of green building in Southeast Asia but also for other countries with similar climatic conditions.


In conclusion, Southeast Asia, exemplified by projects like Meyer Blue in Singapore, has made considerable progress in green building technology. The adoption and application of these technologies must take into account the unique characteristics of the region’s natural resources and climate. The evolution of green building in Southeast Asia is driven by the increasing population and energy demands. The principal challenge remains adapting green building technology to the region’s hot and humid tropical climate, ensuring that these sustainable practices are both effective and efficient. This requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing climate considerations, policy support, economic feasibility, educational initiatives, and integrated transportation planning, to continue advancing green building development in the region.

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