GBI Chairman, Assoc. Prof. (Industry) Ar. Sarly Adre Sarkum
raises the bar for green building certification


The genesis of Malaysia’s Green Building Index (GBI) is in itself an ‘architecture’ of passion with its intricate rating system constructed from the ground up by key players within the construction fraternity who saw a need for sustainably built structures and beyond.

Among Malaysia’s iconic structures that have been GBI-certified include the Petronas Twin Towers, Bangunan Perdana Putra, Plaza Tol Kota Damansara (DASH), Sunway City Iskandar Puteri, IOI City Mall Phase 1, Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), Bukit Bintang City Centre to name a few. To date, GBI has certified an estimated 300 million sq. ft. of floor area.

There seems to be no better person to tell the tale of its birth and of its importance in the building industry other than GBI’s Chairman who is also the Malaysian Institute of Architects’ (Persatuan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) President, Assoc. Prof. (Ind.) Ar Sarly Adre Sarkum for whom the founding of the Green Building Index has taken on a rather personal significance. After all, he had witnessed PAM facilitating its inception till his election earlier this year as PAM’s president.

“It’s like going a full circle, having grown up together with GBI,” he said when interviewed by Building&Investment (B&I) at the GBI Platinum-rated eight-storey PAM Centre in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Birthing a Malaysian green building rating system

I had joined PAM in the early days when many multinational architects working on local building projects had begun enquiring about a green building rating systems in Malaysia. At that time, the only existing ones were the US LEED certification system and the Singaporean Green Mark Certification Scheme. However, these foreign rating systems were a “mismatch” for Malaysian buildings as they comprised differently prioritised rating criteria following the origin country’s particular weather and geography.

“The idea for a local rating system was then mooted by PAM among the building industry’s presidents’ council with ACEM, the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia being the other partner. Which is why GBI is run by architects and engineers,” he said.

“Creating the tool was very, very complicated but what we had was a hoard of volunteers comprising many professionals passionate about going green wanting to contribute through their respective fields of expertise,” he continued.

The team of volunteers then formed the Sustainability Committee in August 2008. The committee members included Ar. Lee Chor Wah, Ar. Dr Tan Loke Mun, Ar. Chan Seoung Aun, Ar. Abu Zarim, Ar. Tan Pei Ing, Ar. Cheong Swee Tshung, Ar. Sarly, Ar. Mohamed Nizar, Ir. Chen Thiam Leong, Ir. Looi Hip Peu, Ir. Thirukumaran, Ar. Saifuddin, Ar. Chiam Chin Yong, Ar. Joseph Tan Meng Hooi, Ar. Lee Mei Ming, Ar. Michael Ching Chee Hoong, Ar Ruslan Abdullah, Ar. Serina Hijjas, Ar. Von Kok Leong and Ar. Voon Wan Lin.

Endorsed by the PAM Council, the committee was tasked to develop and set-up the Green Building Index and the accompanying GBI Panel for certification and accreditation of green-rated buildings. In 2009, Greenbuildingindex Sdn Bhd was formed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of MIA and ACEM to administrate GBI accreditation and training of GBI Facilitators and Certifiers.

Currently, GBI is governed by a board of directors comprising members from both PAM and ACEM. It is also the only system in Malaysia recognised by Malaysian Green Building Council due to the criteria set by the international World Green Building Council body for each country’s rating tools.

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