Green Building Industry

An Expert's View about Green Construction in Turkey

Posted on: 31 Aug 2012

U.S. is one of the frontrunners with the acceptance and use of green building standards and guidelines. Though Turkey’s green buildings are more of a presence than ever, more inter-development is needed to enable production on a large scale. Therefore there is a great opportunity in Turkey for US architectural firms.

Market Demand
Turkey’s green building industry has recently been in a process of rapid development. Government policy is becoming more aligned with Turkey’s energy deficit and external pressures further encourage environmentally responsible development. Also, international investors and non-profits are importing an environmentally conscious ethos to some of Turkey’s high-profile developments. In many ways, green building in Turkey has reached an unprecedented peak. Unheard of several years ago, now major commercial developments advertise an awareness of environmental issues, or a design premised on sustainable principles. Malls and major office developments are engaging in green retrofit processes. For the eco-conscious tourist, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has mobilized hotels and resorts with its Green Star program, based on established green building standards. These recent developments, however limited, signal the entrance of green building into Turkey’s mainstream building industry. Turkish Green Building Association has been established with intentions to be a Green Building Council (GBC) in October 2007. The association has been lobbying on green buildings since then.

Market Data
Buildings and settlements are responsible for the 40% emission of the greenhouse gas – CO2. They are also responsible for the 12% of water usage, 65% of waste production and 71% of electricity usage. The extent of these percentages indicates a great potential to cut back the effects on environment. In this situation, it is ineluctable to understand the role of architects, engineers, urban planners and city managers.
As a political entity, Turkey first engaged with the environment in 1978 with the establishment of the Undersecretariat for the Environment. Five years later, the 1982 Constitution included the “right to live in a healthy, balanced environment,” and in 1983, the first Environmental Law was passed. Several environmentally directed laws followed, including regulations on pollution and the Mass Housing Law of 1984. Then in 1992, responsibility for Turkey’s environmental management was given to the new Ministry of the Environment, which still exists today. A key piece of legislation was the Environmental Impact Assessment law of 1992, requiring municipal approval of all public land development. Generally, however, development interests have trumped the environmental intent of this law. Recently, regulations for Turkey’s accession into the EU have increased incentive on environmental reform, though little progress has been found. Another motivating factor for green building and environment came from the UN-HABITAT II forum, held in Istanbul in 1996. This international event was a watershed for ideas on improved urban habitat and building.
Turkey’s energy dependence and the need for energy efficiency have also prompted regulatory and rhetorical changes. In 2008, the central government enforced insulation requirements for both new commercial and residential buildings. One hundred percent compliance would be expected to save billions of dollars and 70% of the country’s heating energy. Though not directly related to the environment, per se, these measures to represent an advancement of the building industry.
Even though there are 21 LEED certified buildings in Turkey, there are 85 registered projects which are in construction phase or in the process of getting the certification. The list of LEED certified buildings in Turkey with their developers can be found from the web site: (Please write Turkey under country). Turkish Green Building Association's Building Code and Certification Committee has been following the national and international progresses on this subject and has started its own studies in order to form a nationally appropriate certification system with the incorporation of experts.

Best Prospects
As the green building concept is fairly new in Turkey, there are not many local architects with LEED certificates. Moreover in projects with large scale, developers are more likely to prefer foreign architectural firms, even though there are good and capable Turkish architects. The reason for this is the perception in the Turkish market for the foreign architects, which is that their work is superior quality. Also one other reason is; in the projects with large scale, there is more funding available. , As a result, the funds that are reserved for the architecture is also bigger. Therefore hiring a foreign architect can be feasible over fairly cheaper local architects. This would mean US architects have more chance to be hired in the high-end projects such as high-rise or hospitality or mixed-use green projects. LED Street and building lighting systems, solarcell lighting, sunlighting, heat pumps, more efficient HVAC systems, fuel cells, efficient boilers, heat insulation systems and other energy efficiency systems are the other best prospects.

Key Suppliers and Prospective Buyers
The recent development of green building in the Turkish commercial sector has been closely tied to the international architectural community. Indeed, much of the green building projects and ethos has been imported from top firms abroad. The Kaplankaya project, for example, is a nearly 5 million m2 eco-tourism resort in construction near Milas in southwestern Turkey. Renowned international architects such as Steven Holl, Lord Norman Foster, and Robert A.M. Stern will bring green design expertise on a level currently still gestating in Turkey. In Istanbul, Zaha Hadid and Ken Yeang each have a major urban project with green ambitions on the horizon as well. Two of Turkey’s largest retail developers, Metro and the Dutch-based REDEVCO, have corporate-wide sustainability policies and construction companies like SOYAK, ZORLU, TEKFEN, VARYAP and ECZACIBASI are developing theirs. Also, Turkish-owned Kanyon Mall both won the 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award and employed the London-based firm ARUP, which specialized in advanced green engineering, as project engineers. More locally, in 2007 Erginoglu & Calislar Architects built an ecologically designed telecommunications company headquarters in the Tübitak Marmara Research Center Zone near Istanbul. These developments indicate that “green” design and operations are achieving cache for both building owners and potential buyers alike.

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Posted: 31 August 2012