Ideas for a sustainable Brunei

Posted on  09/06/2011  |  Media Centre

By Danial Norjidi
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Published on Borneo Bulletin

Sustainability was the hot topic yesterday afternoon at the Rizqun International Hotel, as a panel of experts discussed ideas to help Brunei become a sustainable country.

The panel spoke during the fourth session of the National Environment Conference 2011 about how leading companies in the Sultanate are contributing to environmental sustainability and touched on what environmental projects are ripe for implementation, as well as what policy frameworks need to be looked at.

They also discussed what needs to be done in order to improve local capabilities and what the different kinds of Green Business opportunities are relevant in Brunei.

The panel consisted of four invited speakers, beginning with Sustainable Construction Manager at HeidelbergCement Group of Belgium, Mr Markus Brunner, who focused his talk primarily on sustainable building in Brunei.

Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday, Mr Brunner said of the National Environment Conference, “I think it’s very good. It’s a platform that informs people and helps people to really exchange ideas and get inspired, so I think it’s a very positive thing, and I hope that at the next event, there will be a review and look back at what has actually been achieved since the last.”

“I would be very happy if we could say that a green building council has been established, and we have done some sustainable building projects and so on,” he added. “A green building council is a very good platform for that because that’s part of a network of like-minded people with experience who could develop the solutions for Brunei.”

Asked for his thoughts on Brunei’s status, in terms of green building, he said, “From what I’ve been told, green or sustainable construction is still in its infancy here, meaning that it’s really in the beginning.

“It’s about energy efficiency and CO2 emissions,” he continued. “In Brunei energy is very cheap, so saving energy does not have a very high monetary motivation to it.

“From what I’ve been told so far, not really much attention has been paid to sustainable construction,” said Mr Brunner. “This is something that Brunei could definitely work on in the beginning, and the good thing is that a lot of other countries have been where Brunei is now, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just look at how others have done it.”

Asked how green, sustainable construction could benefit the people of Brunei, he answered, “The everyday person will benefit from it in the long run. If the energy consumption is not very high, you won’t feel the effects of the destruction of the environment – you won’t feel that right away.

“For the everyday person, sustainable building is more the right thing to do because in the long run, you will benefit. If you ask for the next day benefits, it’s really hard to answer right now. You will have to lower energy costs every day, keep them low. The thing is it does not cost much to run your building a little bit more sustainable. For example, the air-conditioning that’s running on full everyday, using shade.”

He said that it does not cost much to run a building with more sustainability, and as an example said that using a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius on an air conditioner rather than 18 degrees Celsius is enough to make a difference in energy costs.

“Sustainable construction is important in the long run. Brunei is in a lucky position where they still have a lot of resources in terms of national forest,” he said. “With construction land dues, the big issue now is how do we manage our land and keep it for our children and grandchildren?

“Because of the effects of construction on the environment, it is so important to pay attention today to be able to have and feel the benefits later,” added Mr Brunner.

The Manager of Sustainability at HSBC, Mr Lim Boon Teck, was also a panellist and he talked about environmental issues such as climate change, and how these issues represent business opportunities.

He made an interesting point, saying that there has been a growing trend in green consumerism, with some consumers starting to refuse to buy products or services from certain companies or businesses because they aren’t green.

Another panellist was Associate Professor at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Dr Debra Enzenbacher, who stressed the importance of recycling to help towards achieving sustainability.

The Acting CEO at the Heart of Borneo Centre, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Mr Mahmud Yussof, was the fourth panellist, and he spoke about forest conservation and how it can affect sustainability, and also touched on the opportunities they present.

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