– By Romilly Madew –

By 2030, more than half of the world’s urban population will live in the Asia Pacific region.

It’s easy to see why when nearly a million people move from rural to urban environments each week – the equivalent to building a medium-sized city every seven days. On current trends, the eight Asian cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai in China, Mumbai and Kolkata in India, and Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila in South East Asia will have a combined population equivalent to that of the United States by 2020.

Clearly, our region is facing some of the planet’s biggest economic, environmental and social challenges. And clearly, it is not enough for us to focus on building better buildings in Australia. We must broaden our horizons to ensure we support our entire region.

The Green Building Council of Australia recognises that greening the Asia Pacific’s built environment is of global importance because of the scale and speed of construction in the region.

In the past two weeks, the GBCA has been hosting green building leaders from China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and New Zealand for a two-week Asia Pacific Green Building Leadership Forum.

The aim of the Forum was to accelerate the uptake of green buildings in the Asia Pacific region. While our region has a few emerging green building councils, many more nations are keen to establish councils and have welcomed assistance from Australia to help them get off the ground.

We are supporting these embryonic organisations by sharing knowledge, connections and intellectual property from experienced and well-established Australian companies operating in the green building space.

Earlier this year, the GBCA formed a new Asia Pacific Committee, which is chaired by Grocon’s Daniel Grollo. The Committee consists of Australian organisations interested in establishing business ties and collaborative opportunities with other companies and green building councils, and furthering the development of green building markets and opportunities in the Asia Pacific region through education, research and the development of networks.

Our current focus is on opportunities in Singapore, India and China, however we are also active in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, and have exchanged missions and information to improve our understanding of local needs and how learning from the transformation in our own market might usefully be adapted to those local conditions.

The GBCA recognises that people of the developed world have the largest and most ominous ecological footprints. But as we reform our own behaviour, equally, we must support the developing world to avoid the mistakes of our past.

Sustainable building and construction can help us to improve economic, environmental and social outcomes in Asia. With support, emerging green building councils in our region can to take action on global warming, improve urban environments and alleviate urban poverty.
Romilly Madew is chief executive, Green Building Council of Australia.