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The Malaysian governments Vision 2020 would have a great impact on the energy usage in the country. Researchers over the years have concluded that buildings consumed the most energy compared to other sectors. The energy use of buildings depends to a significant extent on how the various energy-using devices (pumps, motors, fans, heaters, chillers, and so on) are put together as systems, rather than depending on the efficiencies of the individual devices (Harvey, 2009). Direct consumers of energy choose to conserve energy while commercial users increase energy use efficiency to maximize profit. Even so, the Malaysian residential sector energy consumption is still high, which is about 19% of the worldwide residential sector energy consumption as can be seen in Fig.1.
Figure : WORLDwide residential energy consumption
Our home is also our environment; it is both shelter and sanctuary from the elements and the pressure of life. Buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly in other ways respond to the growing need to reduce the use of fossil fuels (Jallendran, 2009). The worldwide demand for energy efficient or sustainable building is emerging rapidly as local governments and businesses wishes to see a more sustainable building industry. Take a moment to imagine living the way we want to and doing what we can to help the environment. Adapting to a change in lifestyle may not be easy to cope with but adapting a change in your home is pretty straightforward because whether we like it or not, it has to be done by one way or the other. Simple alterations can be carried at home which can not only help us to preserve the environment but also which can help us to save our monthly expenditure in electrical bill. Improving insulation, lighting and etc which helps in increasing energy efficiency are the simplest example which will soon pay for itself. More complicated and extensive changes done can help release you from the dependency of power and fuel companies which will lead to self-sustainability and huge savings in operational costs for the years to come. One day, no doubt, we won't have to think about making 'green' choices or increasing our environmental awareness, because those choices will have been already and that awareness will have become second nature (Macmillan, 2004). The problem is that 'one day' may be some time in the future.
On the other hand, reducing electrical energy demand in the residential sector is a major problem that is being faced globally. The small part of the world in which we spend over half of our lives is entirely under our control (Hymes, 2007). The awareness of developers and residents regarding energy conservation methods during construction and operational stage is a potential way to reduce the energy demand to fulfil the comfort of occupants. Reduced energy consumption in the residential sector is particularly important, because energy demand in this sector is notably increasing unlike in the industrial sector (Tsuyoshi, et al. 2005). The lack of clarity on what should be done, who should do it, what it should cost and how can it benefit are mainly the reasons why the energy consumption in residential sector is still high. There is a need to enforce a simple measure, such as post-occupancy evaluation to overcome this issue. Process improvement is a learning process: we learn by analyzing the root causes of delay, dysfunction, or inefficiency; we learn by mapping how work actually gets done; we learn from the metrics we use to gauge where we have been and where we are getting to (Waife, 2002).
Back in the days, buildings were only design to meet certain requirements to provide humans protection and privacy, climate barrier modifier and enclosure to space. A 2007 study by Mc-Kinsey, an international consulting firm, showed that changes in building design and construction could offset up to 6 billion tons of carbon emissions annually "through measures with a zero or negative net life-cycle cost" (Yudelson, 2009). A building built in this era is expected to be in good shape and occupancy for at least 100 years. The requirements which have been placed in the building are changing rapidly in time horizons which are short, particularly when compared with the design life of the building. Use of natural ventilation has been increasingly examined as an energy-efficient means to provide thermal comfort as well as a healthy indoor environment (Nugroho, 2007). Therefore, buildings will perform at a higher level over its lifetime with upgraded equipment, windows and light fixtures; but even with such improvements, a prescriptive code building might not ever perform at the level of the building with the better design (Vieira, 2006). Basically, energy is consumed in buildings for heating & cooling, hot water, lighting & services and equipment (Sozer, 2010). Considerable amount of these consumptions can be greatly reduced by passive design methods which should be taken into account at the beginning of the architectural design process. It reduces the total energy consumption of the building and as a result, minimizes the need for mechanical systems by design. To cater these changes there has to be complex works and competing requirements to be done throughout the various stages of the operational period of the building. Understanding the interplay between conflicting requirements and the surrounding issues is essential for both potential owners and managers of building, as well as for people involved in the production and commissioning of new buildings, in order that informed and balanced decisions can be made (Macmillan, 2004). Cities of the future must be sustainable, both environmentally and economically for occupants to enjoy a good quality of life. Sustainable or green design is not simply about attaining higher environmental performance standards or investing in new values; it is also about rethinking design 'intelligence' and how it is placed in buildings (Alwaer & Clements-Croome, 2009). Therefore identifying the energy consuming building components is critical from the perspective of the building designers, building owners and utilities to examine the possibilities of reducing building energy consumption, not only through efficient building systems and management, but also with building architectural characteristics. In terms of conserving power, converting the lighting of a home to more eco friendly status is the easiest way to achieve results. Lighting tends to be forgotten until it is too late to reap the full benefits of choice and design, but with any eco-conversion project, it needs pushing to the front of your mind - well ahead of the decorating (Hymes, 2007). Light can appear in various forms such as stark and even, bright with contrasting shadow, soft and relaxing and a variety of hues if not colours. Incorporation of more efficient lights, task lighting, use of sensors to cut unnecessary lighting, use of daylight harvesting and other advanced lighting techniques and technologies (Kats, 2003). Deciding on what is needed on that particular room would help in deciding the amount light needed and thus reducing the electrical energy consumption as a whole.
Improving Natural Light Indoors
Natural light is undeniably the best form of light. Unfortunately, when natural light is insufficient we are to rely on artificial lighting and it seems that a lot of artificial light is needed these days. Therefore, it is not a question for us to make the best possible use of natural daylight that is free to us all to achieve sustainability. Almost all ultra-violet light can pass through single glazing, but only 75 per cent can pass through a 20mm double-glazed unit, while a triple-glazed unit offers significantly worst performance (Hymes, 2007). As a result, bigger areas of glazing are needed to compensate for that light loss. In short, we need bigger windows to enjoy the benefit of daylight fully. A good house design keeps the indoor environment favourable and comfortable throughout of the year without the use of any mechanical devices (Nugroho, et al. 2007). For that to happen, there has to be a standard operating procedure (SOP) in order to achieve the design which favours sustainability. The designers are to help each other in fine-tuning the current buildings and rectify it before implementing the stated design in future buildings. In fact, Facility Managers are responsible in helping them to identify and solve problems, and to understand the potential of the building and how to run it better (Macmillan, 2004).
Converting to Eco-Friendly Artificial Light
Having done all what can help to maximise the optimisation of natural light indoors, it is time to improve the artificial lighting. It is quite possible to save energy here by rethinking the way in which one light their homes as well as changing to energy-efficient lamps. Most end users tend to have a poor understanding on their lighting needs and often choose the wrong fittings. It is important to know where and what type of lighting is needed in a room, failure of such understanding will result to electricity wastage through needlessly bright lighting and incorrect controls. The efforts of being energy saving should not only stop at fitting a few low-energy bulbs as there are many more ways which can boost up the energy efficiency level of a building. Getting light in the right place and achieving the right effect is what matters most. An example of an efficient lighting system would be one with separate controls for different lighting zones and use of task or ambient lighting (relatively low background light levels where appropriate, supplemented with greater lighting when and where needed) (Harvey, 2009). An internal passive infra-red (PIR) switch or a programmable dimmer switch may be far more efficient than a manual switch that always produces full power and tends to be left on after room has been vacated (Hymes, 2007). Spaces that we pass through temporarily such as bathrooms, hallways, stairs and landings are prone for automatic PIR detector switching. Regular occupant's education is vital for an the conservation measures to be effective, persistent impacts, although the natural habits of an individual to conserve energy increases with energy prices (Vieira, 2006).
Energy Efficient Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) System
In the simplest HVAC systems, heating or cooling is provided by circulating a fixed amount of air in and around the specific room at a desired temperature to maintain the occupant's comfort level (Harvey, 2009). There are various changes that could be made to achieve energy savings in a HVAC system. These includes;
Using variable-air volume systems with selectable fan speed to minimise simultaneous heating and cooling of air and to reduce the fan energy use.
Separation of heating and cooling functions by using chilled or hot water for temperature control and to only circulate volume of air needed for ventilation.
Using a demand-controlled ventilation system which varies according to the number of occupants in the specific space.
Correctly sizing all components used in the HVAC system.
In apartments, it would be possible to promote centralized hot water supply combined with centralized chilled water supply for air-conditioning to achieve higher energy efficiency of the air-conditioning unit and at the same time provide free hot water (Tang, 2005). Such implementation is like 'killing two birds with one stone'. More quantity of water can be heated with less energy needed.
Government and Non-Government Initiatives
In recent years Malaysia has duly highlighted the adoption of sustainable construction and green building under the Malaysian Construction Industry Master Plan (CIMP) (2005 - 2015). The Malaysian government is working on the Green Technology Roadmap to guide Malaysia in becoming a low carbon green growth economy (Kamarul & Zuhairi, 2011). For a start the government is conducting a baseline study for green technology in Malaysia comprising the following sectors;
The CIMP has identified that the demand on environmental sustainability is necessary to achieve and sustain economic growth and social development. The following milestones have been highlighted under the roadmap to be achieved in 2015:
Foster a quality and environment-friendly culture and to increase customer demand in the global environment in construction.
Encourage external accreditation in quality and environmental management i.e. ISO 14001 certifications.
Promote environment-friendly practices.
Initiatives on green building materials to ensure impact activities can provide in order to spur economy and social benefits at large.
Malaysian green building rating system (Malaysia Green Building Index - GBI) has been developed and widely used since 2009. GBI Malaysia is developed by Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM). This initiative is profession drive to lead the Malaysia construction industry towards becoming more environment-friendly. The rating system will provide opportunity for developers to design and construct green, sustainable buildings that can provide a greener project and will be based on 6 key criteria: (Tan, 2009)
Indoor Environmental Quality
Sustainable Site Planning and Management
Material and Resources
Under the GBI assessment framework, points will be awarded for achieving and incorporating environment-friendly features which are above current industry practice.
Industrial Capacity is Limited
Sustainable development in Malaysia is still in its infancy stage. Although there is an increase in awareness on sustainability, the increment is still relatively low. Many important stakeholders are not even aware of the concept of sustainable building and so are naturally resistant to change (Shafii, et al. 2006). Different approach and economic market leads to different priorities. The lack of understanding in achieving sustainability is one of the biggest factors which retard the implementation of such in the country. Building services installations are some of the least understood aspects, as illustrated by their taking the top three slots in the survey for both over- and under-specification (Macmillan, 2004). If the industry's capacity has such limits, how is it possible for us to conserve electrical energy as an end user? As a result, there is often a lack of effective solutions for service, upgrade and maintenance problems during the life span of the building (Lin, et al. 2003). On top of that, the development of energy efficiency buildings requires another area of specialisation. For example, green developers, consultants and architects. Performance standards are often replaced with efficiency and design (Vieira, 2006). These areas would require much time for an individual to learn about. Clearly the architecture and design curriculum in existing schools and construction education is not sufficient to prepare future architects and engineers to understand such roles and responsibilities (Shafii, et al. 2006).
Higher Cost of Construction
The cost of implementation sustainable concept to a construct a building will be higher than the conventional construction method due to the increased architectural and engineering (A&E) design time, modelling costs and time necessary to integrate sustainable building practices into projects (Kats, 2006). Therefore, comparing constructing an ordinary building with constructing a sustainable or energy efficient building which is more expensive and often assumed not worth extra cost, developers would choose cheaper alternative rather than the latter. Many stakeholders are in the opinion that the construction industries won't go green unless it saves them money somehow (Shafii, et al. 2006). Business as usual, majority of the developers would only have interests in any sustainable features adaptable in their projects which will greatly reduces their profit margin unless the said feature will lead to an immediate payback or a significant return in the near future. In the early stages of some alternative technologies, research and capital expense for infrastructure or demonstrations are generally required (Vieira, 2006). Operational energy cost for instance electrical energy would on represent only a small part. However, the cost of constructing a low energy use building maybe 10 per cent, or more, higher than the cost of constructing a standard air-conditioned building (Macmillan, 2004).
Lack of Awareness on Energy Efficient Measures
Sustainable or green design is not simply about attaining higher environmental performance standards or investing in new values; it is also about rethinking design 'intelligence' and how it is placed in buildings (Alwaer & Clements-Croome, 2009). Therefore identifying the energy consuming building components is critical from the perspective of the building designers, building owners and utilities to examine the possibilities of reducing building energy consumption, not only through efficient building systems and management, but also with building architectural characteristics. The performance of buildings is largely dependent on the quality of their design and the operation and maintenance of their internal system (Lin, et al. 2003). Owners and clients play important roles in implementing energy efficient measures in a building. The key to designing the best building is to take advantage of the local climate. Utilizing renewable energy such as wind, rain and solar energy can greatly contribute to the building design. It is also important to select mechanical appliances and equipment which are energy efficient. If there is lack of awareness and understanding during the inception and feasibility stage, it would be very difficult for end users and occupants to implement measures which will contributes to energy efficiency. Therefore, education is seen as an important tool in promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issue (Shafii, et al. 2006). With such, it will definitely increase the level of awareness both the developers which handles the construction process and general public which occupies the building for a period of time. Changes in the technology used in buildings not only impact on the way people within a buildings work but also have an effect on the way the building itself operates (Macmillan, 2004). Changing the present demands placed upon buildings to energy efficient demands enable the occupants to adapt themselves to a whole new environment which may boost up their productivity and efficiency. On top of that, it will also affect the nature of the physical structure and configuration of the building. This means that the changes will not only create a better environment for your home, but also a better home for the environment (Hymes, 2007). Another possibility is to induce energy saving by providing household members with information on actual domestic energy-consumption (Tsuyoshi, et al. 2005). The lack of awareness and understanding the concept of energy conservation leads to different definitions and languages to handle the issue correctly. Conservation initiatives involve reducing energy use which relies on fossil fuels, often requires a change in occupant's behaviour (Vieira, 2006). Even the slightest thing to do, for example, pulling out the plugs from the plug point would actually help to reduce energy consumption of a building. In other words, green building saves carbon emissions and money at the same time, through effective, insulation, glazing, water heating, air-conditioning, lighting and other energy-efficiency measures (Yudelson, 2009). It's a sure to win situation on which both climate - change activists and businesspeople can agree.
Lack of Role Model Buildings in the Industry
If there were to be clients who demonstrates their achievement, understanding areas of success and failure, facilitating any remedial action and demonstrating concern for users (Macmillan, 2004). There is a need to increase the number of sustainable/green buildings in Malaysia to be the role models or first push to achieve sustainability in the residential sector. More demonstration examples are needed to convince stakeholders to adopt sustainable building and construction options (Shafii, et al. 2006). Although there are sustainable buildings in Malaysia which comprises of office and commercial buildings such as Telekom Tower, Security Commission Building and the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (MEWC) headquarters, and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) but there is none which stands out in the residential sector to be a role model.
Designing it Right
The most cost-effective method towards achieving a reduction in the building's energy consumption occurs during the design stage. Proper planning during the design stage by utilising suitable solar orientation, or land use planned to minimise transportation distances, or the development of a manufacturing process that includes minimising the energy use are for making an impact are selected (Vieira, 2006). Having excellent design requires access to reliable information and appropriate experiences for the designer which is usually encouraged through education, regulations and incentives. Producing better sustainable technologies requires minor and major research. Sophisticated 3D computer simulation tools provide the performance of the building with a range of design variables such as building orientation (relative to the daily and seasonal position of the sun), window and door type and placement, overhang depth, insulation type and values of the building elements, air tightness (weatherization), the efficiency of heating, cooling, lighting and other equipment, as well as local climate which help the designers to predict how the building will perform before it is built, and enable them to model the economic and financial implications on building cost benefit analysis, or even more appropriate - life cycle assessment (Meera, 2011). With the assistance of such technology, it is possible to implement zero-energy usage in public areas in a condominium. On top of that, the zero-energy approach has its tendency to reduce carbon emissions, and reduce dependence and demand on depleting fossil fuels. To begin the transformation, demonstrations, dissemination and education are required.
Utilising and Managing Renewable Energy
A zero-energy building (ZEB) combines highly energy-efficient building designs, technical systems and equipment to minimize the heating and electricity demand with on-site renewable energy generation typically including a solar hot water production system and a rooftop photovoltaic system (Torcellini & Crawley, 2006). Roof-integrated photovoltaics, or wind-turbine water pumps are examples of alternative energy supply methods. Solar thermal systems typically convert 60 to 70% of the sun's incident radiation to useful energy (Vieira, 2006). Photovoltaic roof tiles produce enough green power to cover the use in the ZEH, and the solar water heater can reach a peak efficiency of 80% (Zhu, et al. 2009). The converted energy can be used in many public areas of the residential homes such as lighting up the corridors and etc. Photovoltaic is coincident with peak power usage and thus contributes to peak demand reduction. On top of that, the installation of wind-turbines on various spots around the high rise building would be fruitful as the design on the building helps to produce buffer zones. The rate of wind and stack effect produced by the difference in pressure is determined by the geometry and design on the building itself (Majid, 2004). Such designs will help in generating electricity which will help to power up certain areas in a high-rise residential building such as corridors and car parks. Thus, it helps in achieving zero-energy usage. By commissioning a systematic process to ensure that building systems are designed, installed and operating as planned, building performance will gradually increase and inversely the energy costs will be reduced greatly. Such objective can be achieved by adapting the Building automation system (BAS) to monitor the building. Building automation systems (BAS) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) are two tools that can be used to help manage maintenance and energy information (Lewis, et al. 2010). Utilizing such tools not only can contribute to energy conservation, but also allow building performance to be evaluated from time to time. Maintenance and management costs can also be strongly reduced.