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An EDGE-certified building, Primavera Residences, in the Philippines. Photo supplied

Green building certification system could mark new era of construction

When it comes to construction companies and the dizzying number of buildings under construction, there is no disputing how large the industry is in the capital.

As Cambodia races with itself to spurt as many high-rise buildings as possible, there are undoubtedly projects that compromise on quality, and even more so, on green certification standards.

In the quality spectrum, an architect working with an architectural design company here, said, “There have been many times that the buildings that I work on, from the blueprint to the actual construction, do not tally with the original floor plan,” she said on condition of anonymity.

“When these mistakes happen, the workers will just improvise and build from there, instead of knocking the structure down and starting properly again,” she added, explaining that the responsibility of working around the mistakes falls back upon the architects to ensure safety and the subsequent corrections to go according to plan.

As quality seems to be of little concern to a number of foreign companies in Cambodia, according to her, because of the lack of enforcement of the construction law or basic standards, it is up to respective construction companies to practise safety and international standards.

One such company, Archetype Group, has gone one step further in ensuring sustainability of all its developments. The multi-disciplinary construction consultancy firm has only recently partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – on a major software that automatically measures the green building certification standard of buildings in emerging markets, like the Kingdom.

The EDGE software, short for Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies, is unlike any other green measuring systems.

It incorporates numerical checks and balances that ensures third party service providers are able to legitimately certify their adherence of a project to EDGE’s standards at the earliest stage of design.

Through this free software, residential and commercial buildings that are resource-efficient can be made available to any company after a one-off initial certification fee, which subsequently consumes 20 per cent less energy, water, and energy-embodied materials compared to normal buildings.

Companies are able to choose from efficient heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, superior glass, low-energy lighting, and solar solutions to reduce energy; low-flow faucets, efficient water closets, and recycled water systems for less water usage; and low embodied-energy flooring, roofing, walls and windows construction.

EDGE catalyses this healthy adoption of green building standards, especially in countries like Cambodia where constructing buildings as high and as quickly as possible outbids adopting environmentally responsible measures.

“Archetype’s commitment to EDGE demonstrates the potential that can be achieved when the private sector works together towards implementing climate change solutions in emerging markets,” said Milagros Rivas Saiz, global head of cross-industry advisory for IFC.

With Archetype the only company that has a physical office in Cambodia, it makes for a more viable overseeing of its EDGE-certified future developments. The company has committed to using EDGE to assess at least 30 per cent of its total new projects in the next year, with the ambition to reach 80 per cent by 2020.

Michel Cassagnes, managing and architectural design director of Archetype’s Phnom Penh office, said, “We are currently using it for a new project in Phnom Penh and expect the results in several weeks.  This is in addition to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification that we are seeking for one of our previous projects [in Phnom Penh], the Laurelton Diamond Factory.”

Its first EDGE-certified project is a residential development situated in the south of the capital.

Archetype is one of the few companies in Cambodia to adopt EDGE, as the recognition of the imperativeness of green building options as well as sustainable practices in rapidly modernising markets across Asia Pacific starts to catch on.

Andre De Jong, board member and chairman of the real estate and construction committee of EuroCham, provided his insight: “Green building certification is still a new concept in Cambodia. However, the topic of green building has garnered a lot of interest from both foreign and local investors and developers.”

“While an authority/council for green building has yet to exist in Cambodia, an international green building certification system such as the EDGE could be relevant.”

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