The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) form a set of strategic pathways to guide our development agenda over many challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change etc. To overcome these mega challenges, we concurrently need to take different development initiatives in the country, where the 'green building' process can dynamically help us meet the many targets of the SDGs. In our efforts towards green building, we will be able to achieve about nine out of the 17 SDGs that can collectively play a vital role in laying our foundation for sustainable development directly or indirectly. To understand the significance of green building in our daily life, a study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University, shows how the environment-friendly 100 office buildings worldwide can increase their employees' productivity and keep them in good health.
In general, sustainable or green building explores efficient use of energy, water and materials. This is a design-based process which helps conserve resources and decrease the negative impacts of resource use on human health and the environment throughout a building's lifecycle - raw material selection for construction, operation, renovation or elimination of building. The function of green buildings is much more efficient (sustainable!) than conventional buildings. In fact, such buildings can save us money, boost productivity either in office or at home, even enhance any company's financial stability and eventually contribute to demonstration of our commitment to achieving the SDGs.
Green building is a very new concept in Bangladesh, where most of the people are still unaware of the issue. But a few activities of the country's different organisations are conducted in line with the concept. For example, the Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI) of the government of Bangladesh has been working innovatively to step forward with the sustainable building concept in the country. This organisation can inspire us to adopt innovative green building by providing both technology and strategic support and sustainable raw material solution for their clients. In other ways, the SGS Group of Bangladesh is engaged in promoting the green building concept in the country within its limited scope. The SGS' green building services include client dealings, especially with the assessment of basic building design, energy management, materials testing etc. However, besides these promotion of client services, few other private organisations are implementing the concept through manufacturing their own environment-friendly products for constructing green buildings.
We have already achieved a remarkable recognition from an international organisation. According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the three Bangladeshi garment and textile factories (Envoy Textiles, Remi Holdings and Plummy Fashions) have recently ranked top-listed environment-friendly factories in the world, keeping pace with sustainable demand for the green building concept worldwide. These Bangladeshi organisations are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified as per satisfactory measurements of the 'green factory' requirements, e.g. emitting less carbon with higher production, which ultimately consumes less gas, electricity and water compared to a total of another 32 green factories in Bangladesh. Apart from these, about 100 more factories are under the green construction process. This is notably a positive message for us as we can learn more about the concept from these green building models in Bangladesh.
In the context of SDG challenges and future work, the World Green Building Council has given several strategic directions to move towards green buildings. Lots of outcomes can be established on the SDGs' targets through our next green building initiatives. For this movement, the 'World Green Building Week' was observed from September 25 to October 1, a yearly event that encourages everyone all over the world to create a green building society by 2050.
Here are some ways through which we can think of our policy reformation for the country's housing and other establishments. However, making green building in the context of Bangladesh includes eight major areas of intervention such as:
Finally, making environment-friendly constructions is now the country's need of the hour to attain the related SDG. The concerned people should make the community aware about this agenda. The government should come first to raise awareness among the people in ways including use of its own-created construction materials (HBRI products) in their new establishments and awarding entrepreneurs who are making environment-friendly construction materials or establishing green buildings on their own. Some of the government organisations such as the environment ministry can adopt green building policies requiring issuance of licence for any establishment to be built.
The writer is Senior Research Associate and Sustainability professional at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division. email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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