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Singapore Establishes Green Credentials

Green buildings are gaining traction across the world. According to a report by Research and Markets, the number of green buildings doubles every three years, with the global green buildings market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13% between 2015 and 2020.

While European cities are setting the pace, green buildings are gaining ground in Asia. Based on the most widely used green building rating system in the world, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), China, India, Korea and Taiwan rank amongst the top ten countries in the latest annual ranking.

Singapore, the greenest city in Asia and amongst the top three cities in the world for green buildings along with Paris and London, has over 3,000 building projects which have met the BCA Green Mark standards. Together they account for one-third of the gross floor area of the country’s total building stock. Singapore’s target is to raise buildings with Green Mark certification to 80% by 2030.

Speaking at the opening of the Singapore Green Building Week in September 2017, Desmond Lee noted, “Eleven years ago, our Green Mark focused on encouraging stakeholders to green our new buildings. This was our first Green Building Master Plan. In 2009, we started pushing for the greening of our existing buildings, as part of our second Master Plan. Three years ago, we launched the third Green Building Master Plan with the aim of becoming a global leader in green buildings, with particular expertise in the tropics and sub-tropical regions.”

To sustain this momentum, the BCA is tweaking the Green Mark Series. It is revising its criteria for the Green Mark for Existing Non-Residential Buildings certification to place greater emphasis on sustainable building management, health and well-being of building occupants, as well as smart controls. It is also developing a new Green Mark scheme focused on improving the health of occupants through the office interior and wellness programmes offered by companies.

BCA’s chief executive officer Hugh Lim said, “BCA continues to work with stakeholders to green our built environment. In addition to our focus on energy and resource efficiency, it is timely for us to consider how good design in green buildings can impact occupants’ health and sense of well-being. Making such benefits clear to building users will better engage them as champions of change in promoting green practices at homes, offices and schools. This will strengthen the impetus for developers and building owners to create greener and healthier spaces for the end-user.”

Research conducted by the BCA and the National University of Singapore on indoor environmental quality has found that, besides being more energy efficient, BCA Green Mark buildings also provide a healthier indoor environment for their occupants. The study observed that occupants were more satisfied with their indoor environment and were less likely to experience sick building syndrome symptoms.

By building up their green credentials, Singapore companies are well placed to export their expertise.

Said Mr Lim: “Meeting the strong demand for green buildings domestically has enabled many Singapore built environment firms to develop specialised capabilities in green building design for the tropics. The greater interest in sustainable buildings abroad has also presented new business opportunities to our firms, especially in developments which have adopted BCA’s well-regarded Green Mark assessment. The government is providing support for these firms which are keen to internationalise as part of the Construction ITM.”

Up on the Roof
Singapore buildings are quite literally taking a green hue as skyrise greenery, encompassing rooftop and vertical greenery, is becoming an integral part of the city’s landscape. Singapore’s target is to double high-rise greenery coverage to 200 hectares by 2030 from 100 hectares.

Besides being visually pleasing, a study has found that skyrise greenery also attracts birds and butterflies. A team of researchers from NParks and the National University of Singapore recorded some 53 bird species and 57 butterfly species in just over 30 study sites.

To incentivise developers and building owners to integrate greenery in their projects, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is ramping up and enhancing its existing Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme, which was first launched in 2009.

As these greener methods of using rooftop areas will require developers to relocate mechanical and electrical equipment, the URA is sweetening the move by granting gross floor area exemptions for the space where the relocated equipment is placed. These exemptions can generate significant cost savings for developers and building owners.

To help standardise the assessment of these green plans for buildings, the URA has also rolled out a new Green Plot Ratio (GPR) framework as a requirement for developers – it stipulates that denser greenery is required of buildings that see more intense use.

GPR, which considers vertical greenery coverage, is an improvement over the current standard, which takes only horizontal planted areas into consideration. GPR is already being used by the Housing and Development Board to set minimum standards of green density.

Today, there are 550 developments in the Lush scheme, including the Parkroyal on Pickering hotel, Westgate shopping mall and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

As the industry expands, more green expertise will be needed. By 2025, the BCA hopes to train 25,000 green collar professionals from around 16,000 today.