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New Again, and Again

©2013 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in High Performing Buildings, vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 2013.

Malaysia Energy Commission HQ (Diamond Building)

T.L. Chen, P.E., C.Eng., Fellow ASHRAE; and Ahmad Izdihar, P.E. 

About the Author
TL Chen, P.E., C.Eng., Fellow ASHRAE, is the CEO of Primetech Engineers in Malaysia and a past president of the ASHRAE Malaysia Chapter. Ahmad Izdihar, P.E., is the CEO of Exergy Malaysia and Associate of Primetech Engineers. 

The glimmering green façade of the Malaysia Energy Commission Headquarters known as the Diamond Building stands in stark contrast to the surrounding brown concrete government buildings. It stands apart in other ways, too: its sustainable design and building energy intensity of 20.6 kBtu/ft2 • year mean it uses on average four times less energy than typical Malaysian office buildings. The building is designed to showcase technologies that reduce building energy and water consumption, promote use of sustainable building materials and provide enhanced indoor environmental quality.

Energy efficiency was a top priority in 2005 when the Energy Commission of Malaysia, Malaysia’s regulatory body for energy policies, standards and safety, embarked on building its own headquarters building in the country’s administrative capital of Putrajaya. However, the project team decided to venture beyond energy efficiency by going green, a relatively new term in Malaysia at the time. The resulting double Platinum-rated building is now a tourist attraction within the global sustainable community and serves as an example for private industry.

This building demonstrates that a Green Building Index Platinum rating (Malaysia’s green building rating system) can be achieved with an additional cost of 6%. As a result, the number of green buildings in Malaysia has exploded since the Diamond Building’s construction in 2010. (More than 50 million ft2 [4.6 million m2] has been certified by Green Building Index [GBI] in the past four years.)

Diamond Shape

Climate and the solar path of equatorial Malaysia (3° north) helped shape the building’s diamond design. Solar studies showed that 25° tilting façades would provide self shading on the north and south façades. To maximize daylighting, a central atrium was introduced, and the diamond shape was born.

The diamond symbolizes transparency, value and durability, characteristics that represent the Energy Commission’s role and mission as a regulatory body. The shape also represents an optimal design approach to achieve energy efficiency.

The building includes seven floors above grade and two underground levels for parking. The seventh floor includes a small theater, board room and dining room.

Low-e glazing helps reduce direct solar heat gain for the east and west façades. The glazing’s visual light transmittance (VLT) of more than 0.5 allows for effective natural lighting to the office interior in conjunction with lightshelves. The inverted diamond shape increases the ground space available for landscaping, which helps reduce the heat island effect. 

While the building may appear to be fully glazed, metal cladding replaces the exterior glazing for the first meter of each floor. Using glazing for this lower wall section does not serve any notable purpose in terms of energy efficiency and daylighting.

Extensive computer simulation of the diamond form was conducted to ensure that the building performed as designed in regard to daylight levels and energy use. To maintain the occupants’ visual comfort, various daylight simulation exercises were conducted to verify that daylighting would be adequate and well distributed.

Citation: High Performing Buildings, vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 2013

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