Vietnam's rapid urban population growth is a catalyst for an increased housing demand, resulting in a decade-long boom for the building and construction industry. However, as every other developing country, Vietnam must address the corollary consequences of rapid urbanization, including energy shortages, diminishing of natural resources, pollution, and negative environmental and social impacts.
Green Buildings ("GB") are a means for Vietnam to realize its sustainable development goals. GB technologies provide several solutions such as minimizing negative environmental impacts introduced by building processes, improving quality of life for occupants, enhancing energy efficiency, and at the same time reducing natural resource consumption.
The GB movement in Vietnam is led by international corporations, NGOs, and some pioneering Vietnamese architects. GB projects have been organized in Vietnam for more than a decade, but are still not widespread. One of the earliest advocates for GB is the Vietnam Green Building Council ("VGBC"), which was founded in 2007 by the US-based Green Cities Fund, Inc. VGBC has created LOTUS, a domestically-oriented GB certification system which consists of ratings tools for different types of GB projects. The first LOTUS certificate was awarded in 2008 (a complete list of certified and registered LOTUS projects is provided at http://vgbc.org.vn/en/lotus-projects). Only 15 projects have received LOTUS certificates since then, and 27 are still awaiting evaluation, according to VGBC. A few dozen more buildings hold international GB certifications, including LEED (US GB Council), EDGE (World Bank Group's IFC), and Green Mark (Singapore GB Council).
Public recognition is focused on prominent Vietnamese architects, who in the name of the movement, have won prestigious international architecture awards for their green designs, including: Hoang Thuc Hao (UIA Vassilis Sguotas Prize winner 2017, Green Good Design Awards 2016, ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2013) and Vo Trong Nghia (Green Good Design Awards 2016, ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2016, International Architecture Awards 2015). These designs represent a fundamental principle in Vietnam's GB movement focusing on eco-friendly designs and the use of locally sourced natural materials rather than technology-based solutions.
The majority of GB projects are for industrial-use facilities, office spaces, educational facilities and commercial buildings. Residential GB projects are rare, even though the building market is dominated by the residential development projects. Besides the lack of public awareness about GB benefits, the minimal presence of a local GB industry is one of the main factors preventing real estate developers from embracing GB practices. GB practices are often viewed as "imported" due to the fact that GB projects rely largely on foreign suppliers for technologies, training, materials and equipment. Consequently, it is difficult to dismiss the association between GB and increased costs.
Saving on energy bills is often cited as the main attraction for GB project investors. The government should incentivize this industry and play a leading role through concrete policies and targeted regulations. Existing legislation and government directives, such as the Law on Technology Transfer, the National Green Growth Strategy, and the Sustainable Development Strategy, offer measures and incentives to promote green housing solutions and green cities, and encourage the development and sharing of green technologies. While GB benefits from those measures and incentives, comprehensive policies specifically concerning GB are needed to give it a stronger boost. The Ministry of Construction is currently working to develop a national strategy for GB which will include stricter energy efficiency standards in building regulations, lower allowable emissions, and the official adoption of GB rating systems.
Protection of IP rights should be a priority in the upcoming policies and regulations. Strengthening patent/copyright/trade secret protection for GB designs, processes, and technologies is seen as a key to encouraging investment and technology transfer to the Vietnam GB industry