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Greening Singapore

From Singapore to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia to India, going green is in. Increasing awareness of global warming and climate change is driving the adoption of environmentally responsible and resource- efficient practices in building construction.

In Singapore, the government is forcing the pace. Over the years three green masterplans have been drawn up to guide the coun-try's green building strategy.

The first masterplan was unveiled in 2006 after the BCA developed Singapore's national green building certification scheme, the Green Mark. The thrust was to encourage, enable and engage the industry to come on board this very important initiative. New buildings were targeted.

The second masterplan was rolled out in 2009 and the focus was on greening the huge stock of existing buildings. The BCA's aim was to green 80% of Singapore's building stock by 2030. Based on current progress, it is a target the BCA is expected to meet. Already more than 2,100 buildings, over a quarter of the city's built-up area, have obtained the Green Mark.

Zeroing in on End Users
Singapore's latest green masterplan seeks to go beyond building structures and hardware to end users. Speaking at the Joint Offi-cial Opening Ceremony of International Green Building Conference and Bex Asia 2014 in September, Minister for National De-velopment Khaw Boon Wan said, "This third Masterplan aims to change our behaviour and practices. The ultimate objective is to create a high-quality living environment that has a positive impact on our health and our well-being."

Under the plan are three major initiatives:
• Establishment of the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) under a S$52-million fund to support the development and testing of green building solutions specially tailored to tropical climates;
• A S$50-million incentive scheme to support building owners and tenants from small and medium-sized enterprises to adopt sustainable initiatives and improve the energy efficiency of their premises; and
• A new category – the Pearl Award – for the Green Mark to recognise developers and building owners who have actively engaged their tenants to reduce energy consumption through changes in their behaviour and operations.

"As the population in Singapore increases, more focused policies and measures are needed to foster greater awareness amongst tenants and occupants. By proactively changing their energy consumption behaviour and practices, tenants and occupants can be part of the solution rather than the problem," said BCA's John Keung.

The masterplan also requires the public sector to serve as exemplary adopters of green building practices. It will be mandatory for all existing public sector buildings with an area of more than 5,000 square metres to achieve Green Mark certification, and for all office spaces to be leased from buildings with high Green Mark ratings. Government events and functions will also have to be held in Green Mark certified venues.

Developing Green Building Solutions
The GBIC is a one-stop shop to showcase existing and upcoming research and development (R&D) initiatives focused on energy efficient building solutions. It brings together best practices and current research, development and demonstration efforts.

As Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan told industry leaders at a BCA breakfast meeting, "GBIC will help build up R&D capa-bility, conduct demonstration projects, and ‘match make' academia and industry to accelerate the adoption of novel technolo-gies."

The cluster is focusing on three key activities. They are:
• GBIC Building Energy Efficient Demonstrations Scheme (GBIC Demo) – a one-stop R&D and demonstration hub to experiment, exhibit and exchange knowledge of promising building energy-efficient solutions;
• GBIC National Building EE Repository – a central database that collects information from GBIC Demo projects to ana-lyse the performance of the trialled technology; and
• GBIC Energy Efficient R&D – programmes to build core capabilities in green buildings.

Eight industry players, which already have a number of green building portfolios under the BCA Green Mark certification scheme, are participating in the initial phase. They are Ascendas Land Singapore, CapitaLand, City Developments, the Housing and Development Board, JTC Corporation, Keppel Land International, National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Tech-nological University.

Pushing Boundaries of Building Energy Efficiency
GBIC Demo kicked off in March 2015. The scheme supports technologies that are expected to achieve 20 to 40% improvement over current best-in-class technologies. The technologies may be successfully completed R&D projects or proven technologies that have yet to be widely implemented in Singapore, such as chilled ceilings or under-floor cooling systems. The scheme also covers the cost of removing technologies that are unsuccessful.

United World College South East Asia will be one of the first to take part. Several technologies that are new to Singapore, such as a control and building management system optimised for decentralised air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems will be incorporated into its new high school block in Dover Road.

"The scheme will help mitigate the risks involved in trialling new technologies by co-funding incurred costs such as equipment, installation and commissioning," said Tan Tian Chong, BCA's group director of research. It includes the cost of removing the technology, should the trial be deemed unsuccessful.

"[Through GBIC Demo], we hope to spur wider replication and eventual commercialisation of energy-efficient solutions for build-ings in the longer term," said Mr Tan.