Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Rethinking the Malaysian Affordable Housing Design Typology in View of Global Warming Considerations

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Rethinking the Malaysian Affordable Housing Design Typology in View of Global Warming Considerations

Article excerpt


With the advent of the global warming and the resulting climate change, many sectors of a country's socio-economic activities have taken several initiatives to reduce environmental destruction without compromising human physiological and psychological needs. This includes human need for comfortable and affordable homes. Over the years, the design typologies for affordable housing have evolved from a two-bedroom to a compulsory three-bedroom dwelling in order to address the cultural need to separate siblings of different sexes in separate rooms. Build up area from the initial 550 square feet has risen to the now 700 square feet. This article advocates for a more humane design to include the element of environmental comfort to come into play in the design typology for future affordable housing even though some compromises have to be made in terms of price. This paper compares the existing affordable housing design status quo and suggests a new design paradigm in view of the requirements by the Malaysian Green Building Index.

Keywords: affordable housing, bioclimatic house, sustainable development, housing typology, green building index

1. Introduction

With the growing concern of the global warming and climate change, building professionals are advised to look again at the environmental factor in designing buildings in the tropical climates. Many times the same mistake was repeated only to aggravate the already worsening condition of the climate outside the building. Economic progress has been proceeding at an unprecedented pace that created many heat islands in urban areas. Jungles were cleared to make way for economic progress by providing housing estates, factories, commercial areas and institutions. These changes in urban area have been replacing the natural green surroundings with the hard landscaping, which reduce the cooling effects of evapotranspiration, shade as well as the strategy of cooling winds regarding to buildings' density. These issues have affected directly on reducing the reflectivity of urban area and increasing the absorptivity due to the thermal properties of buildings that add heat to the air by conduction. In addition, the burning of fossil fuels to provide electricity for air-conditioning, fans and to operate mechanical and electrical appliances has assisted to generate more heat. By-products of these activities from the energy provided lead to the release of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide from motor vehicles. The release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is reaching at an alarming rate that prevented heat to be reflected back to the outer space and thus cause heat to be trapped within the earth's atmosphere. Therefore, these indicators support to create an artificial warming which reflects in the temperature record. Recent studies show that depending on the weather conditions, the overnight temperature in the center of urban areas can reach up to 10°C warmer than rural environment (Climate and water agency, 2002). This is known as the Greenhouse Effect.

According to Gill et al. (2011) evidence proofed that built environment is one of the major contributors of energy needs and carbon emissions (Meeting the Energy Challenge, 2007; Fox, 2009). Residential sector plays a significant role contributing almost 30% of carbon emissions and energy use (King et al., 2008; Utley & Shorrock, 2008). IEA, 2009 statistics showed that more than 20% of the electricity in Malaysia is being used in the residential sector. Figure 1 shows the level of CO2 emission in Malaysia is increasing critically (IEA, 2009) since 1970 which represents as one of the highest emit2ters of CO2 compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. These data show serious indicators of growing in the demand of t2he energy in the 21st century.

According to (Fong et al., 2007a & 2007b; IGES, 2004) the Urban Heat Island in Malaysia is increased due to human activities that resulted from populations increase in cities. …

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