Vietnam’s polluted cities are markets for green solution providers

[Vietnam Insider] Many urban areas in Vietnam are suffering from pollution caused by urbanization. While the Government and construction industry are looking for solutions to restore the balance of the living environment, sustainable construction solution providers have found a big market in this country.

Freek Crum, the APAC President of the water management solutions supplier – Wavin said that Vietnam is a big market for the providers of advanced solutions for the building and infrastructure industry. Wavin has over 20 projects in Vietnam ranging from residential to commercial buildings including the Head Office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in HCMC, the Parliamentary conference hall building in Hanoi, the National Assembly House and the New Ba Dinh conference hall in Hanoi. There are more rooms to expand in this market since the country is seeking to build climate-resilient cities and better building performance.

Recently, the General Planning Management unit of HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture proposed to renovate the Saigon River corridor. The HCMC’s river and canals system plays an essential role in the process of urban formation and development. However, the Saigon River is facing pollution, saltwater intrusion, riverbank erosion and flooding issues. Also, the river bank is heavily concretized by illegal encroachment in the upstream and sand mining. Therefore, the unit proposed to build an environment-friendly space to respond to climate change and prevent flooding and landslides.

Another opportunity for sustainable construction solution providers comes from urbanization degrading the environment. Currently, the soil is tending to be polluted due to the impact of wastes from industrial, construction and daily life activities, waste landfills that directly dispose wastewater into the ground. According to the Ministry of Construction, the wastewater of all kinds in urban areas is not treated but is discharged directly into the environment, especially in large urban areas such as Hanoi and HCMC. Therefore, the need to improve environmental protection systems and natural ecosystems is increasing.

Improving the environment also helps to attract investment and economic development. “Ho Chi Minh City has the potential to expand upon the traditional triple helix model of an innovation district’s structure – involving academia, government, and industry – to more directly involve communities and society at the core of its innovation activities while ensuring long-term ecological and environmental resilience,” explained Romil Sheth, principal and lead designer of the project The Highly Interactive Innovation District for over 22,000 hectares of the city throughout District 2, District 9, and Thu Duc District.

Accordingly, HCMC National University, Hi-Tech Park, Thu Thiem financial center, Rach Chiec, Tam Da in District 9 are the focused areas which need to address flooding and ecological problems. Nguyen Do Dzung, Managing Director at enCity Urban Solution Pte, Ltd. and this project said “A successful urban area needs to be in a good location with transportation connectivity and regional linkage, an appealing living environment for the community with adequate facilities and green space, diversified products from luxurious to affordable homes to meet demand, adequate services, environmental protection measures and good services.”

Thu Thiem Fintech Hub (Rendering by Sasaki)

According to Freek, the expected momentum for construction projects across Vietnam’s commercial, industrial and residential sectors must incorporate solutions for sustainable, clean and accessible water and sewer facilities – both are crucial, basic human requirements. Vietnam is currently facing a rapidly growing urban population that is navigating pressing challenges surrounding sanitation, water supply, urbanization and sustainability, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. The government has been proactive in ensuring sustainability remains on the national agenda, with commitments made to double the country’s use of renewable energy and slash carbon emissions down by 15% by 2030, and to date the country has achieved impressive progress on these goals. Yet, despite the initiatives made, noise pollution still continues to be a persistent challenge for Vietnamese living in urban areas.

According to the United Nations, the 6 largest cities in Vietnam will see a considerable increase in population by 2030. The forecast suggests that the HCMC will increase in population to reach 11.1 million citizens over the next decade. The second largest city – Hanoi is also projected to increase to 6.4 million inhabitants. Therefore, the government is making concerted efforts to meet increased demand for residential housing that is underpinned by ongoing urbanization and a growing middle class, which is expected to generate momentum in the residential construction sector. With the Vietnamese government also driving efforts to develop a technology and smart city hub in HCMC, the country’s rapid urban population expansion is also expected to be accompanied by an accelerated expansion of the construction and built-environment sectors. These factors will impact the country’s industry and construction sector with its growth 6.3% in Q1 2021.

However, green construction materials are not really popular in Vietnam.  The total number of certified green buildings in Vietnam is only about 155 projects, lagging behind regional countries, according to UNDP. There have been a number of advanced construction solutions entering the market, but not many new products are commonly accepted, according to a report of the Ministry of Construction. Contractors have to invest a lot of money, but the user can only address the benefits during the entire life of the product. In addition, there is a risk of liability that engineers, contractors and suppliers will face if they propose a new material.

Not only the Vietnamese market, the global market also increases the demand for solutions for the greener construction industry. According to the Constructive Dive, 71% of contractors surveyed are facing at least one material shortage. Therefore, all institutions including public, private and cities themselves have important roles in providing the best solutions, according to Greenbiz.