Brunei needs to adopt green buildings in order to effectively reduce its energy consumption, an expert from Malaysia said recently.

The economics of developing green buildings means that Brunei can reduce more than 20 per cent of its current energy consumption, Leong Siew Meng (pictured above), a qualified green building index facilitator said during a seminar at Universiti Brunei Darussalam on Wednesday.

“In Malaysia [and most countries in Southeast Asia] buildings take up the most energy… My suggestion for integrated design is to have all stakeholders work together towards [being energy efficient] and create their own eco guidelines,” Leong said.

Between 1990-2015, Brunei’s energy consumption has grown at a rate of 5.7 per cent per annum, outpacing its current GDP growth rate of 1.7 per cent.

According to the green building expert, buildings worldwide account for almost 40 per cent of global energy consumption, followed by industrial usage at 33 per cent and transportation at 26 per cent.

Therefore, an assessment report from the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified that buildings have the highest potential to reduce carbon emissions.

Air conditioning, Leong pointed out, takes up a lot of energy, stressing the importance of building ventilation as well as reduction of heat gain from roofs and walls. This includes orientating the building to face north-south, away from the sun’s path.

“Being situated in equatorial tropical climate, there’ll be many challenges to building and township design… this includes high ambient temperature and humidity,” he said.

Currently, Brunei has already implemented a smart tariff system and installed smart meters to promote efficient energy consumption behaviour.

However, based on a study, Leong said that air conditioning still accounts up to 50 per cent of a building’s energy usage in tropical countries like Brunei and Malaysia. Meanwhile lighting takes up to 25 per cent.

There are simple steps owners can consider in order to make their buildings and homes more energy efficient.

“External shading device is something building owners can look into… The type of roof insulation is also important as it can reduce a lot of heat gain. All these can minimise the use of air conditioning. We should also look into site planning as more trees outside can reduce surrounding temperature,” Leong said.

Another invited speaker, Shigeru Kimura, noted that if Brunei could implement a more aggressive energy efficiency programme, energy consumption can be reduced by 20 per cent by 2040.

Kimura, who is the special adviser on energy affairs to the president of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), noted that between 1990 and 2015, Brunei’s energy consumption — induced by industry, transport, residential and commercial activities — grew at a rate of 5.7 per cent per annum.

“This is much higher that Brunei’s GDP growth rate of 1.7 per cent,” Kimura said.

According to the latest Energy White Paper, Brunei currently produces about 1,700 MWh of solar energy per year. The target is to increase the share of renewable energy in the total power generation mix by 2.7 per cent or 124,000 MWh by 2017 and by 10 per cent or 954,000 MWh by 2035.