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The State of Green Construction in Indonesia

Bali Green School - Photo by Monique Deacaro

February 8, 2019

By Lucky Agung Pratama

As one of the emerging countries, Indonesia has been undergoing rapid development in multiple sectors. Businesses are growing and the need for a better infrastructure is higher than ever. However, with the growth comes another issue: pollution. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia that is still seeing growth in terms of both economic and population density, has been plagued by the pollution issue for a couple years due to the high use of fossil-fueled vehicles, not to mention inadequate waste management[1] systems. The pollution issue is exacerbated as there are several major infrastructure projects that are currently ongoing in Jakarta, including the Mass Rapid Transport project, highway and port expansions.  As a result, Jakarta’s air quality can be unhealthy[2] even at midnight.

Construction professionals felt the need to reduce the construction industry’s negative impact on the environment. An example of their effort is the establishment of Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) in 2009, with the mission to raise awareness about the Indonesian construction industry’s impact on the environment. GBCI then developed GREENSHIP, a rating tool to determine the level of a building’s eco-friendliness. The tool is adopted from other rating systems such as the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system. Overall, it measures several aspects, such as the materials used, the building’s energy usage, and its site selection. The total score from each category determines the building’s green level.  The rating system was developed by advisory and steering boards comprised of government officers, thus the council is considered semi-governmental. It is expected to enter the market faster through government support.

However, green construction has not yet been enforced by the government. The number of projects that have pursued green building certification has been relatively low since the program was launched. There are currently only 20 GREENSHIP-certified buildings on record[3]. Compared to cities in the United States, this number is low enough to suggest more enforcement is needed. For example, Seattle has more than 500 LEED-certified projects [4]; moreover, this number does not include projects that are registered under other green construction rating systems.

The lack of enforcement on the sustainable construction itself does not mean there has been no effective effort from the industry in Indonesia, however. There have been other initiatives to promote sustainable construction in other cities. A notable example is Green School, a non-profit school in Bali that was established in 2006. The school was designed and built as environmentally-friendly as possible. The buildings are constructed from mostly renewable resources such as bamboo. As part of the initiative, the Green School also encourages students to be environmentally-friendly through its curriculum that mostly covers botany, traditional craftsmanship, and bamboo architecture.