2017 27 September

Thailand Legal Update: Green Building Energy Standards

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Thailand to See Mandatory Building Energy Standards Come into Force

The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (“DEDE”) announced in July 2017 that it has begun to closely monitor the energy consumption levels of large buildings across Thailand, ahead of a push to rigidly enforce the most recent efficiency standards on newly constructed projects later in the year.

The green building energy code (“GBEC”) is contained within the Ministerial Regulations Prescribing the Type and Size of Buildings and Standards, Rules and Procedures for Designing Energy Conservation Buildings B.E. 2552 (2009). The GBEC was issued by the Minister of Energy under Section 19 of the Energy Conservation Promotion Act and is based on international power consumption standards for large structures. While the GBEC has been a feature of the Thai regulatory framework for a number of years, it was not until 2013 that it became binding on state agency buildings.

The GBEC lays down certain standards and specifications that a building’s design and construction must adhere to: its building envelope (i.e. the separation of the air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned space), electrical lighting system, air-conditioning system, water heating, overall energy consumption and renewable energy outfitting within the building.

Following DEDE’s announcement, the purview of the GBEC will be expanded to cover all “large buildings,” defined as buildings that have:

  • total usage area exceeding 10,000 square meters;
  • power meter capacity exceeding 1,175 kilovolt-amperes; and
  • energy consumption levels exceeding 20 million megajoules per year.

Pending actual implementation of the GBEC later this year, DEDE has announced that similar standards will be extended to medium-sized buildings in 2018 (with a total usage area exceeding 5,000 square meters) and to small-sized buildings in 2019 (total usage area exceeding 2,000 square meters). 

It is estimated that by applying stricter standards on energy consumption within larger buildings, there will be a reduction of 74 million units of electricity (valued at THB 260 million) along with an annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions amounting to 43,000 metric tons. 

The GBEC represents the first compulsory energy consumption standards to have universal application in Thailand. Prior to the GBEC, if building developers sought certification as a “green building,” they were required to obtain certification from four different authorities or systems. These were:

  • the Energy and Environmental Assessment Method (an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Energy in conjunction with Chulalongkorn University);
  • the Thailand Rating Energy and Environment System (“TREES”) (an initiative launched by professional engineers and architects under the auspices of the Thai Green Building Institute);
  • the Thailand Association for Sustainable Construction (developed in conjunction with the German Sustainable Building Council); and
  • the Leadership of Energy Efficiency Design (“LEED”) system (the most popular universally recognized green building certification system developed by the US Green Building Council).

The new framework is expected to offer substantially more certainty and simplicity for developers and lead to improved outcomes for energy efficiency.  

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