The Rise of Sustainable Housing in Bangladesh: A Green Revolution
Unplanned urbanization is happening in many parts of the country. However, the pace of growth varies across different regions. Large cities witness a more dynamic urbanization process in terms of business, economic activity, education, government operations, and entertainment. Unplanned urbanization refers to the gradual development of a disconnected, unplanned, unequal, and dispersed city without taking into account future sustainability threats.
The rapid growth of cities, particularly Dhaka, has led to numerous issues caused by unplanned urbanization. Housing shortages have resulted in the growth of floating slums, which create an unhealthy living environment. To accommodate the massive population, illegal occupancies are expanding at an alarming rate, with certain individuals occupying land on lakes and rivers. This has resulted in water stagnation and pollution, making it difficult to navigate the rivers. Improper waste management is another serious issue that affects public health. Environmental contamination has also increased significantly. To address these problems, Bangladesh must adopt sustainable housing practices as part of the green revolution.
Building a Green Future: Exploring Sustainable Housing in Bangladesh
Access to adequate housing is a fundamental human right and a necessity for individuals and societies to thrive. Constitutions and charters at both national and international levels recognize this right. Therefore, sustainable housing development strategies are crucial for building sustainable cities and communities. This article examines Bangladesh’s growing emphasis on sustainable housing by going through the country’s existing housing situation, the necessity for sustainable housing, as well as the prospects and challenges associated with it.
The Current Housing Condition in Bangladesh
The city of Dhaka lacks proper urban management, resulting in infrastructure-centric development plans that prioritize uneven distribution of public amenities and discriminatory legislation over public health and the environment. As a result, Dhaka is considered one of the world’s least livable cities, evidenced by the chaos on its streets due to unplanned urbanization. This disorder is caused by sporadic construction projects and a lack of coordination between relevant agencies, making Dhaka’s streets unsafe and disorganized. Additionally, Dhaka Road only comprises 8% of the city’s total area, falling short of the 25% requirement for an ideal city.
Dhaka lacks leisure facilities due to congestion and limited space, affecting the quality of life, especially for young people. A study by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology found 73% of the infrastructure is unplanned, leading to unregulated building construction and drainage issues.
Despite being home to 40% of the world’s population, Bangladesh has a relatively small urban population. However, this number is growing as more people move into the city every day. Unfortunately, due to the population explosion, the city is struggling to provide basic services, putting the lives of new citizens at risk. The unplanned development in Dhaka has made it even harder for its 18 million residents to access essential amenities needed to lead a good life.
Over the past two decades, unplanned urbanization has led to a decrease in arable land and damage to cropland. This is a concerning situation in many cities as it not only jeopardizes future housing but also causes a decline in productivity.
Why We Need Sustainable Housing?
The main objective of urban planning is to construct livable cities, which includes creating neighborhoods and living spaces suitable for human habitation. Residential areas and living spaces prioritize sustainability to ensure that the needs of individuals, families, or groups are met without compromising the environment or the needs of future occupants. Housing is considered one of the most important topics in this regard. The United Nations defines sustainability as the ability to meet present needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable housing should prioritize economic, social, and environmental sustainability, be accessible and affordable, and have minimal negative impact on the environment.
Sustainable housing has a significant impact on the standard of living. Incorporating values such as environmental preservation, economic efficiency, social inclusion and involvement, or even cultural appropriateness can enhance the benefits of housing and life in the metropolis. Sadly, the significance of sustainable housing is yet to be fully recognized in Bangladesh, as well as in several other developing countries.
A comprehensive policy should consider social, cultural, environmental, and economic factors related to housing. However, many initiatives that aim to support low-income individuals offer inadequate homes in isolated areas without considering their lifestyle and means of subsistence. This approach, coupled with the rapid development of homes, has a significant environmental impact and increases carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the majority of people still struggle to find decent, secure housing due to a lack of affordable options, unsafe living conditions, physical barriers, and discrimination. Additionally, individuals living in subpar and unofficial communities often lack access to basic amenities like water and sanitation.
To address the impact of urbanization on Bangladesh, it is crucial to establish sustainable housing regulations that consider both environmental protection and urban development. This involves implementing innovative urban administration practices and developing sustainable construction technologies that are adapted to different climate regions, economic circumstances, and residential customs.
Prospects for Establishing Sustainable Housing
In 1990, the Building Research Establishment introduced the first green building grading system in the world, known as BREEAM. This system boosted the movement towards sustainable design, prioritizing the project over the product. Following this initiative, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) adopted a similar strategy in 2000, creating criteria through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system for new constructions. Their goal was to improve the environmental performance of buildings. LEED has since gained popularity and now offers rating systems for both existing structures and entire neighborhoods. The certification levels for LEED include Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified.
In 2008, the Sustainable Built Environment Initiative-Bangladesh, now called the Bangladesh Green Building Council, united various stakeholders to achieve their common goal of promoting eco-friendliness in the country. They proposed establishing a central board to provide LEED certification to interested companies and projects. This certification has since become a global standard for sustainable green construction, improving the quality of our environment.
In the last decade, numerous construction projects in Bangladesh have earned LEED certification, becoming the benchmark for sustainability. Presently, there are 122 buildings in Bangladesh with this certification, with 24 of them located in Dhaka. The majority of these certified buildings are industrial factories, which are the main contributors to pollution. However, more and more commercial buildings are now pursuing this accreditation, which is granted based on various criteria such as environmental purity, energy efficiency, recycling capacity, and sustainability.
More and more high-end commercial and textile factories are seeking LEED certification as developers and factory owners strive to create environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings. Bangladesh Bank is encouraging energy efficiency through its refinancing program by offering soft loan facilities. For factories with LEED certification, one-digit loan facilities are available, up to a maximum of 9%. This sustainable banking approach is promoting the growth of green buildings.
Challenges in Establishing Sustainable Housing
The current regulations for building design take a passive approach to energy efficiency. The 2008 Dhaka Mahanagar Imarat Nirman Bidhimala mainly focuses on implementing building setbacks, floor area ratios, maximum ground coverage, and necessary open space to reduce energy usage during construction. However, to truly achieve the goal of “going green” with vertical development, active regulation, and thorough technical inspections are necessary. Unfortunately, Bangladesh doesn’t have a formal green building rating system in place.
The construction system in Bangladesh currently results in waste of energy and water, leading to an increased demand for both. Over the last decade, the country’s electricity supply and consumption have almost tripled, with fossil fuels accounting for 96% of all electricity produced. This reliance on fossil fuels leads to high GHG emissions and intense power production. Furthermore, projected energy use highlights the need for increased energy production to support various industries.
Designing a sustainable housing project of high quality requires a careful balance of various aspects. Accessibility, security, safety, privacy, community interaction, availability of appropriate services, and adequate space provision are all critical factors to consider. The success of neighboring countries in promoting environmentally friendly construction techniques through rating and labeling systems for green buildings is a clear example of how effective such measures can be. However, to fully reap the benefits, a comprehensive approach is required. Upcoming laws should incorporate a range of collaborative measures, including increasing public awareness of pay-back times, developing technical expertise in green construction, and providing easier access to affordable financing.
As Bangladesh’s industries rapidly develop and transition, it’s essential to prioritize environmental protection. Best real estate companies aim to advance the real estate industry towards a sustainable living, such as Mir Real Estate – preserving Bangladesh’s natural beauty and iridescence.
Housing plays a significant role in shaping the physical structure of cities and settlements, as well as the communal lifestyle and overall health of the population. It is an important aspect of the social and material fabric of any city or settlement, and improving it can enhance the quality of life not only in the neighborhood but also throughout the city. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, there are many misconceptions and negative practices when it comes to housing.
In order to sustain and boost Bangladesh’s rapidly expanding economy, housing must play a significant role. Unfortunately, unplanned urbanization has made this task more difficult. It is necessary to prioritize sustainable housing to address this challenge. While Bangladesh has made efforts to establish sustainable housing, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. Through appropriate policies and development schemes, we can ensure better housing for both present and future generations, as well as achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What are sustainable homes?
Sustainable homes are houses that prioritize sustainability and take advantage of natural elements such as lighting and ventilation, and also make use of renewable energy sources.
- How much of Bangladesh’s GDP is contributed by real estate?
About 12% of the country’s GDP comes from the real estate sector.
- When did Bangladesh’s real estate market start to boom?
The industry started its voyage in the 1970s, but the 1980s were when it really took off.
- What number of people work in this field?
This industry employs over 2 million individuals in some capacity.