Quang Linh Vu on Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification

Being a sustainable design architect, researcher and educator, Quang Linh Vu gains empirical knowledge and practical experience through education background in Australia, where Green practices and Green Star rating tools are well-known; and BIM technology at University College of Northern Denmark. Quang is the Board Directors of Vietnam Green Building Council, Advisory Board for EDGE (IFC, World Bank) Green building certification, Vice President of HCMC Green Architecture Club, Committee member of IBPSA International Building Performance Simulation Association Vietnam, and currently holds the Managing Director at ARDOR Green. He was awarded the Young Architect of the Year 2014 by Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association; as well as conferred Top 10 Architects Awards by BCI Asia thrice in 2009, 2015 and 2021.

Malaysia and Singapore have successfully evolved their ‘Greener’ codes to increase building performance by utilising different approaches that fit their economies. In Singapore, most of the building codes by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) are developed by the authority itself. Green Mark and LEED are the two most popular rating systems, although LEED has only a 2 per cent market share. Malaysia has Green Building Index (GBI) but allows the use of equivalent standards in place of the referenced standards in the regulations and codes of practices.

Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), developed by International Finance Corporation (IFC), is another rating system to quantify building performance. Quang Linh Vu shared with Construction+ about EDGE and the benefits of its application.

Forest in the Sky; image courtesy of Quang Linh Vu

How important are Green building standards?

Green building standards are very important in orienting and quantifying the building performance for the categories of energy, water, materials, health and environmental sustainability. Most Green building standards are voluntary, and target the market-leading group of buildings in the market, so there will be higher requirements than the national design standards and building code in each country, and have new requirements such as: reduction of waste, pollution, and improvement of the quality of indoor environment.

With the above assessment criteria, Green buildings make the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by differentiating products and adding value to customers and users. Green building standards provide a common platform on sustainability with the participation of design consultants – architecture, structure, M&E, landscape, acoustics, among others – Green consultants, contractors, operators and investors to jointly identify the most effective Green solutions for the project.

Read: Green Design Certifications in Malaysia and Singapore

Intercontinental Ha Long Bay; image courtesy of Quang Linh Vu

What is Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification?

EDGE is developed by international Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group, launched in August 2014, to respond to the need for a measurable and credible solution to prove the business case for Green building. It is a three-in-one online platform that features a free software application, a Green building standard and a certification system for more than 170 countries. The EDGE application helps to determine the most cost-effective options for designing Green to deliver long-term benefits for the clients and building users.

The standard can be applied for multiple building types – homes, hospitality, education, hospitals, light Industry, offices, retails – at different building stages such as new construction, major renovations and existing buildings. Buildings will be assessed based on the efficiency of energy, water and embodied energy in materials.

It has three different certification levels: Certified, which is achieved by fulfilling the minimum standard of 20 per cent savings; Advanced, which is achieved by fulfilling Certified, and the minimum standard of 40 per cent savings; and Zero Carbon, which is achieved by fulfilling Advanced, and demonstrate 100 per cent carbon offsets. Some strengths of EDGE include international recognition and credibility, adapted to local construction practices, prioritise design solutions, fast to implement and certify, and competitive certification fee.

EDGE highlights speed, affordability and simplicity, along with a powerful software that is driven by climate-smart data, and an opportunity to co-brand with the World Bank Group name.

Habitat Binh Duong Phase Two; image courtesy of Quang Linh Vu

Can we compare EDGE to LEED, Green Mark or GBI? 

EDGE is a Green building certification system for emerging economies, the EDGE certified buildings must demonstrate resource efficiency of 20 per cent in the categories of energy, water and embodied energy in materials. In other green building rating systems such as LEED, there are more categories including location and transportation, sustainable sites, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality that look at the building on a more holistic view of sustainable design, construction, operation and maintenance.

EDGE is an independent certification system that currently does not have a reciprocal relationship with other international rating systems. EDGE is non-competitive in nature, as its intention is to help scale up green building eco-systems in emerging markets. EDGE is one of many other green building certification systems, each having its own purpose and advantage within a given market.

What are the key benefits in applying the standard?

EDGE offers solutions to improve building energy efficiency, from exterior building envelope solutions, electrical and other solutions. All green solutions are needed to be calculated and simulated specifically to demonstrate at least 20 per cent energy savings compared to equivalent buildings. When the building ensures the conditions of thermal comfort, natural light, natural ventilation, then work productivity and health will be improved. With solutions to save electricity and water, operating costs will be reduced and thereby bring profits to users and investors, especially for commercial buildings, offices and hotels.

Read: How Green Accreditation Can Benefit the Construction Business 

Haus Neo; image courtesy of Quang Linh Vu

Aside from these benefits, what other competitive advantages of EDGE?

With EDGE calculation application, design consultants are able to compare the effectiveness of design solutions based on building geometry, insulation parameters and power and water consuming equipment. At the same time, the calculation application can quickly have quantitative preliminary cost evaluation and payback time for each design option. EDGE software is also free to access and use, and has quantitative evaluation of project performance on the integrative collaboration platform of design parameters.

Read: Homebuyers’ willingness-to-pay for Green attributes: Evidence from Asian cities

What are some of the challenges in implementing the rating system?

The implementation of Green buildings in general always faces many challenges in terms of incremental construction costs. This cost is not actually wasted, but is a future investment in the building’s equipment system, for the building’s operational efficiency, and these solutions often have a payback period about three to five years. Depending on the initial investment and design of the project, the EDGE certification will take about one to two per cent of the total investment. The costs incurred are mostly for the upgrade of building envelopes (walls, windows, roof), air conditioning and ventilation equipment, occupancy sensor and timer control systems.

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