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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    24 September  2012

Thai housing agency launches eco-friendly villages


Compared to private property developers, the National Housing Authority of Thailand (NHA) is a very low-end developer, just like what it was conceived to be when it was established in 1973.

Low-end projects are notorious for poor management. But this national agency is changing all that with an eco-friendly initiative that promises to be a boon for all home-buyers.

To be launched next year, the first eco-friendly village will be built in Pattaya. A pilot project, which could be replicated nationwide, it would please home-buyers concerned about electricity bills. According to NHA director-general Vitoon Jiasakul, it will prove that a house equipped with solar panels in the estate with its own biogas electricity-generating system need not be as expensive as assumed to be.

"Although NHA develops budget residential units for low-income people, we have continued to improve our designs for better quality of living. The reasonably-priced eco-residence and eco-villages for all of our communities are long-term goals that we want to achieve," he said.

NHA will join hands with Horseshoe Point and Cellennium Co to develop its pilot project in Pattaya. The detached eco-residences - one-storeyed and two-storeyed - will be priced at 1 million baht  to 3 million baht (US$32,400 to $97,400).  

All houses will be equipped with solar panels. According to a research by Cellennium Co, at the location the roof panels should produce 40 kilowatt per hour of power per day, half the average demand of 80KwH for a 200-square-metre house.

At the electricity cost of 4.30 baht per unit, a house consuming 80 units would be charged 344 baht per day. However, with the solar panel, the bill would be cut by half to only 172 baht. Through a smart grid, consuming below 80 units, the house can also sell the excess power to Provincial Electricity Authority at 4.30 baht per KwH.

Aside from roof solar panels, the estate is also designed to have an innovative waste treatment system, which can produce biogas that could generate power for use inside the estate.

According to Vitoon, the right project needs to start with the right design, which must be in line with the location and weather conditions. Then, the solar-cell system and waste-treatment system would be included, so that the residents can support themselves with sustainable power supply and lower electricity bills.

Eco-friendly residences do not need to be expensive, he said.

If the project is successful, he said the NHA is prepared to introduce the eco-village concept at new projects. The concept would also be promoted at existing communities, for better quality of living for its customers in the long run.

If so, this would be a great achievement for the agency. Since 1976, it has completed more than 700,000 residential units, under its mission to provide cheap housing for low-income earners. Over 70 per cent of the units are located in Bangkok. In 2010 fiscal year alone, it completed 26,385 units under the Ban Ua-Athorn scheme.

"This is our pilot project, which is very likely to be expanded to cover all of NHA residential projects. All of them will incorporate the eco-village concept," he said.
Beyond solar panels, last year's flood also inspired the agency to come up with a new house design that can withstand floods. The Amphibious House design is planned for its Baan Ua-Arthorn project in Ayutthaya.

"We assigned Side Specific Co to design the amphibious house to meet our customers' demands. This is also under our concept to design residential units for better living," Vitoon said.

He added that construction will start next year. Costing 1.5 million baht, the 100-square-metre detached house offers 2 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room. The house will be supported by buoys, which are ready to lift up the house when floods come.

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