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Bayer pushes green building scheme locally

Bayer MaterialScience AG, a unit of the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant, is optimistic that rising energy costs will drive demand for green and eco-friendly buildings in Thailand.

But to sustain rising demand, integrated solutions must be provided to make construction easier and more economical for developers, says Thomas Roemer, Bayer MaterialScience’s head of construction and industrial marketing.

“Often the [construction] industry wants to be green, but sometimes they turn around and say they see no solutions, so they go back to standard,” he said.

Compared with normal projects, eco-friendly buildings cost 3-6 per cent more in investment value with a payback time of 7-8 years, said Mr Roemer.

The idea is to invest a bit more in construction to save on energy consumption in the long run.

Bayer MaterialScience has launched its EcoCommercial Building programme, a network of experts aiding in green building development.

The programme is in Europe, North America, the Middle East, India, Brazil, Japan, China and Thailand, with 50 members from different industries taking part.

Bayer’s first example of an EcoCommercial Building was a climate-neutral day care centre in Germany.

The building, the company’s own and inaugurated in November 2009, won a sustainability award from the German government.

All the energy needed for heating, ventilating and lighting the centre is obtained from renewable sources, namely geothermal and sunlight.

With help from insulation based on polyurethane raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience, the building achieves an emission-neutral energy balance over the course of a year.

The Thailand programme currently has three network partners.

Supakit Sarootsikan, who heads Thailand’s EcoCommercial programme, says ecological buildings are especially important for Thailand since the country is a net importer of electricity and is expected to remain so until 2020.

Cities and their buildings are responsible for a large segment of energy consumption, which totalled US$58 billion in 2010.

The Thai government is committed to promoting energy efficiency and has set a new target of increasing renewable energy to 25 per cent of total consumption by 2021.

As a provider of raw materials for insulation, glazing and finishing, Bayer MaterialScience saw 15 per cent growth in the three segments last year in Thailand.

Demand for eco-construction depends on a combination of government regulations, climate and educating the market, said Mr Roemer.

Such demand has risen most in Asia, followed by the US and Europe.

Bayer MaterialScience’s annual sales total 10-11 billion (398-438 billion baht), accounting for one-third of the Bayer Group’s turnover worldwide.

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