Vietnam should join the growing trend of constructing environmentally-friendly buildings as an important step towards sustainable development, experts said a conference on Nov. 17.

The second Green Conference, jointly organised by Kohler Vietnam and HCM City Association of Architects, attracted more than 200 delegates representing property developers, architects, and design consultancy firms.

Nguyen Truong Luu, deputy chairman of the HCM City Association of Architects said the green factor is indispensable, so property developers need to have a thorough understanding of the "green" concept and apply its standards in their construction projects.

A green building will conserve resources, including energy, land, water and construction materials, limit pollution, protect the environment, help safeguard the health of community, said Prof. Nguyen Huu Dung of the Vietnam Institute of Urban and Industry Environment.

Participants stressed the need to pay special attention to installing waste water treatment systems, minimising waste discharge and ensuring the quality of internal and external environments by reducing pollution to the maximum.

Dung noted that environmental degradation as a result of wastewater discharge has reached alarming proportions at the moment, particularly in industrial parks, urban areas and buildings in HCM City and Hanoi.

There is an evident shortage of onsite waste water treatment plants in many residential compounds, new townships, building towers and commercial complexes, he said. These places discharge untreated wastewater directly into the environment.

Joseph Azzarello, senior staff engineer at Kohler Co. a US-based firm that makes sanitary fittings, electric generators and small engines, said Vietnam is a dynamic market with a strong growth rate that should seriously target building green buildings.

He said Vietnamese builders and investors should seek the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a leading-edge system devised by the US Green Building Council.

The LEED standard consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

Green buildings have not only helped protect environment, but also brought an increase in return of investment for investors, Azzarello said.

Nguyen Van Tat, deputy chairman of Vietnam Association of Architects, said developers are concerned that applying sustainable technology in their projects will require more investment, raising it to two or three times the normal capital outlay.

However, they should think of the advantages environmentally-friendly buildings confer, especially for large-scale projects, he said./.