Green buildings -- the planet's savior

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When climate change, including global warming, is receiving much attention from all walks of life, the use of renewable energy has become one of the widely deliberated topics in weather-related conferences.

Malaysian federal administrative center [File photo]

Malaysian federal administrative center [File photo]

Malaysia, a tropical country that has vast potential in solar energy development and rain harvesting, has also committed to going green, evidenced by its government's initiatives to import green technologies and encourage the construction of green buildings.

Green building is all about making use of what we have to produce what we want -- so to reduce wastage.

Heeding the Malaysian government's call, such environment friendly buildings begin to appear in the country, with one of them being the Malaysian Energy Commission headquarters.

Located in Putrajaya, the country's federal administrative center, the diamond-shaped structure that looks like a jewelry mall is one of Asia's most energy efficient buildings.

The 53,000 square feet (some 4,923 square meters) office has a tilting facade designed to avoid direct sun rays from heating up the building and to reduce cooling system overload.

"The slanting walls means that this building is self-shading. We do not need any extra shading because the direct sunshine will often not get into the building.

"Even when the sunshine hits the walls, most of it would be reflected again because of its shape," Poul E. Kristensen, the building's architecture consultant, told Xinhua in an interview.

According to Kristensen, the building uses 46 percent less energy compared to buildings of similar sizes because of its efficient cooling and lighting system.

For starters, water chillers are embedded within the ceilings and floors to cool the building, said Kristensen, adding that water is a much better carrier of cooling.

While the building only needs a small ventilation system to bring in fresh air, Kristensen said people inside the building would feel comfortable when surrounded by cool floors and ceilings.

He also said that the rooftop garden and green walls of the buildings could also help chill its interior.

The state-of-art building is entirely lit by natural daylight, even from the inside.

The structure has a dome and a shutter above its atrium, designed to allow sunlight to penetrate into the offices.

"The unique shutter works a little like the pupil of a human eye, because when there is little light outside, it will open. When there is a lot of light outside, it will close," explained Kristensen.

To fully take advantage of Malaysia's humid climate, rain harvesting tanks are set up on the rooftop to irrigate toilet flushes and the rooftop garden, helping the building reduce water consumption by 35 percent.

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