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Open To The Elements

From an Olympic-standard stadium in Mongolia to a Hainan wellness centre, eco-conscious engineer Armelle Le Bihan has harnessed natural resources to elevate projects across Asia.

Pippa Woodhead

Armelle Le Bihan may be able to reel off climate change statistics as easily as most of us recite the alphabet. But the Bangkok-based engineer is a far cry from clichéd images of a dreadlocked, patchouli-oil-scented eco warrior.

“Green building is not a tree hugger’s trend,” she says as she outlines her practical vision for a more environmentally aware real estate sector. “Not only do such building practices respond positively to environmental issues, they also make business sense.”

Having started her company Green Building Consulting and Engineering just two and a half years ago, she’s already carved out a stellar reputation for herself.

Projects across the region have benefited from her expertise and she has already been rewarded with prestigious industry gongs. Her latest commission is also one of her most ambitious: the construction of a state-of-the-art stadium in Ulaanbaatar, the pollution-ridden capital of Mongolia.

While travelling around Asia to preach the gospel of green engineering can be a challenge, Le Bihan is passionate about what she does. “It’s all about community,” she says.

How would you best describe green buildings?

To put it simply, green buildings use fewer resources. They are also designed to foster a positive impact on the environment and enhance comfort, wellbeing and health. This is really important when we consider that the average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors. Green buildings generally have 14 percent lower operational costs, 30 percent higher occupant satisfaction and typically have 7 percent increased asset value compared to non-green buildings. This is amazing when you consider they only cost 1-2 percent more to build.

Why is it so important for real estate developers to start going green?

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