• Vol 9, No 8 (2018)
  • Architecture

An Exploration of Drivers and Strategies for Encouraging the Delivery of Green Building Projects in Housing Development

Nor Kalsum Mohd Isa, Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunos, Mohd Hairy Ibrahim, Kamarul Ismail, Mazdi Marzuki

Cite this article as:
Isa, N.K.M., Yunos, M.Y.M., Ibrahim, M.H., Ismail, K., Marzuki, M., 2018. An Exploration of Drivers and Strategies for Encouraging the Delivery of Green Building Projects in Housing Development. International Journal of Technology. Volume 9(8), pp. 1702-1714
Nor Kalsum Mohd Isa Department of Geography and Environment, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sultan Idris Education University, Tanjong Malim, 35900 Perak, Malaysia
Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunos Faculty of Design and Architecture, University of Putra Malaysia, 43400, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
Mohd Hairy Ibrahim Department of Geography and Environment, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sultan Idris Education University, Tanjong Malim, 35900 Perak, Malaysia
Kamarul Ismail Department of Geography and Environment, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sultan Idris Education University, Tanjong Malim, 35900 Perak, Malaysia
Mazdi Marzuki Department of Geography and Environment, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sultan Idris Education University, Tanjong Malim, 35900 Perak, Malaysia
Email to Corresponding Author


Green building has attracted increasing attention in recent years and the concept has a positive impact on the environment when adopted in the field of housing development. This study aims to explore the drivers and strategies that should be developed in order to encourage green building project delivery in housing development. This study uses an empirical approach that combines case study, quantitative, and qualitative methods. First, a questionnaire survey was distributed to housing developers in the Klang Valley (KV). A total of 234 developers returned completed questionnaires. The results of the quantitative analysis, based on descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha, correlation, and multiple regression analysis showed that social and cultural drivers have the greatest effect on green building project delivery by housing developers. Next, the quantitative findings were applied to a qualitative case study and two companies in KV were investigated. Finally, the results were validated by interviewing five experts in the industry. The results of the experts’ interviews not only validated the findings obtained from the quantitative and qualitative analysis, but also provided in-depth explanations for the identified drivers and strategies.

Green building; Green development; Housing development; Pro-environmental behavior; Project delivery


1.1.   Green Building in Malaysian Housing Development

Residential buildings account for approximately 15% of primary energy use (Kruger & Seville, 2013). Thus, not surprisingly, the housing industry is a major cause of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). Carbon dioxide emissions in Malaysia increased from 14.6 million tons in 1970 to 328 million tons in 2020, placing great pressure on the environment (Tan, 2011). Meanwhile, the demand for housing has steadily increased, primarily as a result of demographic trends and rising incomes. This, in turn, has increased resource consumption and waste generation, having a negative impact on the environment.

Malaysia has shown its commitment to sustainable development by energy diversification and efficient energy utilization, starting with the formulation of the National Energy Policy 1979(NEP79), National Depletion Policy 1980 (NDP80), Four Fuel Diversification Policy 1981 (4FDP81), and Fifth Fuel Policy 2000 (5FP2000) (Chua & Oh, 2011). The development of green technology and Malaysia’s achievement in green building are demonstrated by several iconic green buildings including the Energy Commission’s headquarters or Diamond Building, the Green Energy Office (GEO) building, and the Low Energy Office (LEO) building. Malaysia has been a party to international agreements such as Rio, Kyoto, and the recent United Nation's Conference of Parties (COPs). Since 2008, green development has encouraged the formulation of several transformative green policies. For example, the Government has introduced major incentives to foster green building investment and the adoption of green building in the public and private sectors in Malaysia, including the introduction of a series of green tax exemptions and reductions and investment incentives. In addition, the Malaysian Energy Centre evolved into the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation to support green technology promotion, development, and implementation (APEC, 2014). Furthermore, the government provided incentives such as stamp duty and feed-in tariffs for Malaysia’s green practitioners (Isa et al., 2015; Isa et al., 2017; Isa et al., 2018). The Malaysian Prime Minister gave a remarkable speech at the Copenhagen COP15 Conference in 2009 in which he announced Malaysia’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2020. Following this, the Malaysian Government’s commitment to environmental protection was explicitly stated in the Tenth Malaysia Plan which included the use of sustainable energy management systems in order to reduce the emission of GHGs and conserve existing resources. Likewise, the environmental effort continued with the Eleventh Malaysia Plan in line with Malaysia’s aspirations to become a developed nation by the year 2020 through low-carbon development and the sustainable, inclusive, and efficient use of resources (The Government of Malaysia, 2015).

Extensive agreement on the principle of green development does not necessarily lead to extensive implementation. It has been argued that, although many construction practitioners agree with the green concept, many have still not grasped its meaning and even fewer have translated the concept into “green” action (Albahori & Isa, 2017; Albahori et al., 2017). In 2016, only 28 housing projects were fully certified by the Green Building Index (GBI Malaysia) out of 818 registered housing projects delivered in the Klang Valley (KV) (GBI, 2017; MHLG, 2017). Thus, to improve the momentum of green practices in the industry, action should be directed at implementing strategies that facilitate green building project delivery. Green building is a sustainable means for investors to maintain environmental integrity and human wellbeing in the long term (Isa et al., 2015). Unfortunately, this study found that many housing developers are still hesitant to pursue the green concept in their projects. Thus, this study attempts to discover what factors stall green building project delivery by housing developers, specifically in KV, and subsequently proposes strategies to facilitate green building project delivery in housing development.

1.2.   Encouraging Green Housing Project Delivery by Developers

In order to have a clear understanding of the drivers and strategies that encourage green building project delivery in housing development, pro-environmental behavior (PEB) theory was used to investigate the interaction between human behavior and the environment. PEB is defined as the effort to minimize the negative impact of one’s action on the natural environment (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002). The significant antecedents of PEB theory were defined by two main factors: internal and external. The variables of PEB’s internal factor are knowledge, emotions, values, and attitudes. Environmental knowledge is able to change a person’s environmental attitude and behavior. Knowledge about the benefits to be gained from green building development is crucial as a starting point for changing developers’ attitudes, values, and behavior regarding the execution of green projects (Albahori & Isa, 2017). Emotion is the second internal factor that needs to be addressed in relation to green building implementation by developers and it is very important in shaping human beliefs, values, and attitudes towards the environment (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002). Ekman’s Atlas of Emotions (1992) was used in this study to measure basic emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. Values are also responsible for shaping intrinsic human motivation (Ekman, 1992). Values have a positive influence on environmental behavior regarding openness to change and universalism. Attitude is a general or enduring positive or negative feeling about some person, object or issue. Attitude can directly influence developers’ behavior together with their beliefs and values concerning the benefits of the green building practices. Attitude is predictive of behavior and behavioral intentions (Albahori & Isa, 2017). In this study attitude was measured according to the willingness of developers to deliver green building development (the PEB items) in their future housing projects.

Meanwhile, the external drivers of PEB consist of institutional or political, economic, social, and cultural factors (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002). The political drivers include government support in terms of various incentives, policies, regulations, technical support, and financial support (Samari et al., 2015). Social and cultural factors refer to strategies such as proper education and training; the use of recommended appliances; willingness to commit to sustainable development; promotion of a green organizational culture, belief, and reputation; and the provision of programs to increase awareness and knowledge (Li et al., 2014). A successful green building project also depends on communication and coordination skills when managing people with different responsibilities and types of expertise within the construction process and throughout the building lifespan (Li et al., 2014). In addition, economic factors have a strong influence on people’s decisions and behavior (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002).

Albahori and Isa (2017) found that in KV, the internal drivers of green building project delivery by housing developers consist of values and attitudes. This finding indicates that the positive values and attitudes of a developer regarding green building development will influence their decision to deliver such a project and vice versa. Even though knowledge and emotions were also listed as PEB items, they were not directly correlated with the delivery of green building projects in KV. Meanwhile, according to Albahori et al. (2017) only two external drivers were associated with green building delivery by housing developers; that is, social and cultural, and economic drivers. Political drivers had no evident influence on green project delivery (Albahori et al., 2017). These results showed that four drivers influenced green building project delivery in KV’s housing development: values, attitudes, social and cultural, and economic factors. This study has taken the results of Albahori & Isa (2017) and Albahori et al. (2017) as a basis for exploring the drivers that affect green building project delivery by housing developers and identifying strategies for encouraging delivery of these projects by integrating the relevant drivers. Based on the above review, a total of two internal and two external drivers of green building delivery by housing developers were finally identified. The internal drivers consisted of values and attitudes and the external drivers consisted of social and cultural and economic aspects. Strategies to encourage project delivery were then formulated based on the dimensions of these four drivers.


This research began by critically examining housing development issues relating to the rapid growth of urbanization in the KV area. Conventional housing projects that are not green have caused the temperature within this area to increase dramatically and contributed to global warming. While buildings play an important role in urban development by meeting the basic need for human shelter, they have also been identified as major consumers of energy, water, raw materials, and land use that contribute to environmental depletion. Green building is an innovation that improves the quality of indoor and outdoor environments, benefiting building occupants’ health and wellbeing and making it a crucial practice for future environmental sustainability. However, the level of green project delivery in housing development is still low. Thus, this paper aims to explore drivers and strategies for encouraging green project delivery in housing development, specifically in KV.

In the first stage, with the help of the PEB model, the variables of external and internal drivers were identified. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha, correlation, and multiple regressions. Thus, social and cultural drivers were identified as the main drivers of green housing development in KV. Therefore, to encourage green building project delivery, several strategies were suggested that considered social and cultural factors. The results from the questionnaire survey were supplemented by two case study interviews to confirm how those drivers affected two development companies with different practices in housing development; that is, green projects and conventional projects. The interview protocol was developed based on the results of quantitative analysis. In the final stage, the identified drivers and strategies from the questionnaires and case studies were validated through semi-structured expert interviews. Consequently, based on the interviews eleven strategies, grouped into four categories that integrate social and cultural factors, were proposed in order to encourage delivery of green building projects in housing development.

In short, green development should be widely promoted by the government via green-friendly development policies and encouragement of the use of innovative green technologies by its Ministries. To ensure inclusive and sustainable development, a proactive approach that integrates social and cultural factors is needed. It should be based on deeply rooted knowledge of the local context and involve the participation of marginalized groups. The overriding findings of this research show that the most crucial drivers affecting green building project delivery are the social and cultural drivers. The provision of green building education, training, and various incentives, such as enhancing the availability of sustainable materials, technology, and expertise, by the government sector would dramatically improve the delivery of green building projects by the housing developers. Additionally, values, attitudes, and economic drivers are within the control of developers’ personnel and management and everyone should play their part in making green building development a success.


This work was supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education and Sultan Idris Education University under FRGS grant no. 2017-0081-108-02.



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