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Dhaka Tribune

The green dilemma

Understanding the difference between ‘green building’ and 'green manufacturing'

Update : 21 Mar 2024, 11:02 AM

In the dynamic landscape of industrial revolution 4.0, “green” is a most used terminology, a buzzword which, when coined with other terms offers an elaborate topic, keeping the motivation and inspirational base the same -- a profound commitment to social welfare and environmental restoration. 

The motivation being the same sometimes creates confusions in some topics. Green building and green manufacturing are one of those pairs. The prefix being the same somehow gives a wrong lead to many who are not from this ecosystem. 

Green building refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: From planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. 

Green building also refers to saving resources to the maximum extent during the whole life cycle of the building, protecting the environment and reducing pollution, providing people with healthy, comfortable, and efficient use of space, and being in harmony with nature. They are also known as green construction, sustainable building, or eco-friendly building. 

Green building technology focuses on low consumption, high efficiency, economy, environmental protection, integration and optimization. There are sets of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings. Few mentionable are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) developed by the US Green Building Council, British BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for buildings and large-scale developments, or the DGNB System (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen eV) and International Well Building Institute (IWBI) and so on. 

Manufacturing is the process of turning raw materials into finished goods. That, by definition, is not sustainable. A sustainable business creates interchangeable inputs and outputs. It’s a closed loop, also known as cradle to cradle. 

Green manufacturing is an approach to evaluating and improving the manufacturing process. It’s based on lean manufacturing principles (a production process based on an ideology of maximizing productivity while simultaneously minimizing waste within a manufacturing operation, seeing waste as anything that doesn’t add value that the customers are willing to pay for) and thus provides a dynamic, proven, and successful approach to going green. It is the renewal of production processes and the establishment of environmentally-friendly operations within the manufacturing field. 

Essentially, it is the “greening” of manufacturing, in which workers use fewer natural resources, reduce pollution and waste, recycle and reuse materials, and moderate emissions in their processes. 

A green building definitely complements the green manufacturing process, providing the very foundation where all the further addition will take place. But a green building doesn’t portray or express or ensure green manufacturing as a whole. 

There is no doubt the initial cost for establishing a green building is far more than a traditional establishment. However, ensuring environmentally-friendly machinery will be an advancement towards green manufacturing. In a nutshell, green building does not necessarily guarantee green manufacturing; rather an establishment and maintenance in place suffices. 

Green manufacturing refers to the core of the operation of any industry, having a footprint in the industrial process at a larger and longer scale. Considering this, the focus should be on green manufacturing on a priority basis. But the status quo reflects otherwise. 

The goal is to achieve a positive environmental impact by encouraging sustainable construction practices and promoting resource efficiency via the system for rating or labelling green buildings; an effective tool for incentivizing the construction sector to make the whole process "greener" by taking more sustainable building practices. 

However, all of this requires a multi-dimensional approach to avail the benefits. In this regard, various collaborative actions such as raising awareness on pay-back periods, creating technical expertise of green building, and easing the access to affordable finance need to be reflected in the forthcoming regulations. 

Companies seem to be replicating the green building certification with little motive of commitment towards the environment. Rather, it appears that they are being competitive in the market and being trendy as “green building certified.” 

Investing almost twice as much as a traditional construction will not add any value if no measures are in place to avail the benefits -- both from an economic and environmental point of view. 

Active regulation and squared technical inspection for reducing energy usage are mandatory to implement the motto of "going green" with vertical development -- all of which seems to be fundamentally missing. 

The choice should be made based on information on every aspect, based on justifying the motivation behind any step, not merely replicating. What is ultimately needed is an informed choice for investment and not merely duplication to go with the flow.

Mohiuddin Rubel is Director of BGMEA.

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