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80-80-80 in 2030

SBD2122_ED02_Pix-01Not just nice numbers, 80-80-80 in 2030 represents the refreshed Singapore Green Building Masterplan (SGBMP)’s environmental sustainability ambitions for the Built Environment (BE).

Since January 2020, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) have engaged over 5,000 stakeholders from the public, private and people sectors, including Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), to co-create the fourth edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan (SGBMP). Titled “Build Our Green Future Together”, SGBMP seeks to foster a leading green BE sector which can lower its carbon footprint and provide a healthy, liveable and sustainable BE for all. The SGBMP strategy to achieve sustainability goals is part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which hopes to fulfil international commitments on climate change.

On 4 March 2021, the SGBMP 2020 set in motion Singapore’s sustainability action plans and a target of 80-80-80 in 2030 for the BE.

Step up the pace to green 80 percent of buildings by 2030
In earlier editions of the SGBMP, the target of greening 80 percent of Singapore’s buildings (by gross floor area) by 2030 had already been set. BCA reported that by end 2020, 43 percent of Singapore’s buildings had been greened.

  • Benchmark to Building Energy Performance Data
Since 2013, all building owners have been required to submit their building energy performance data. Having gradually taken steps to increase the transparency of such data to the public, BCA announced last year, that it would identify all buildings in the building energy performance data that it publishes, starting with commercial buildings in the second half of 2021. Owners of existing buildings will be able to benchmark their buildings’ energy performance against similar building types and take the necessary steps to improve energy performance and accelerate the greening of buildings.

  • Future-proofing Singapore’s building stock
BCA will raise the minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings that undergo major retrofit works from 30 percent and 25 percent (compared to 2005 levels), to 50 percent and 40 percent respectively. The new level is comparable to the current Green Mark Platinum standards. For example, a large office building that utilises 10 million kWh in a year can potentially save 800,000 to 1,100,000 kWh of electricity annually from using energy efficient building systems. This translates to cost savings of $180,000 to $240,000 annually. In order to improve building energy performance, developers and building owners can review the major energy uses and systems of the building and identify opportunities to integrate energy saving elements such as energy efficient building systems for cooling, lighting, lifts and escalators, and design for a better building envelope and ventilation.

The revised minimum energy performance requirements will take effect for applications for new buildings by end 2021, followed by existing buildings from 2022.

  • Revised Green Mark (GM) Framework for 2021.
BCA will also be reviewing the Green Mark scheme’s certification standards and criteria to raise the standards. The revised framework will include higher energy performance standards, and key environmental sustainability aspects such as whole-of-life carbon, health and well-being, and design for maintainability elements. Work is currently ongoing to revise the GM framework, the details of which will be provided in late 2021.

80 percent of new developments by GFA to be Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings from 2030
Since 2006, the public sector has been taking the lead on environmental sustainability by requiring new public sector buildings to attain Green Mark certification, including Green Mark Platinum for new buildings with air-conditioned area exceeding 5,000 sqm.

  • Bringing SLE buildings into the mainstream
Under GreenGov.SG, the Government will take the lead in driving wider adoption of Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings. The aim is to build industry capability in developing SLE buildings, provide use cases for the private sector to take reference from, and bring SLE buildings into the mainstream.

  • SLE buildings in the private sector
BCA will also be exploring further measures to drive adoption of SLE buildings in the private sector.

80 percent improvement in energy efficiency for best-in-class green buildings by 2030
Today’s best-in-class buildings are able to achieve more than 65 percent improvement in energy efficiency over 2005 levels.

BCA aims to raise this figure to 80 percent by 2030 through the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) programme. Established in 2014, GBIC supports the development and deployment of green building solutions with high potential for wide adoption. To date, GBIC has supported more than 60 innovative technologies from more than 50 firms. GBIC has helped to build up deep industry capabilities in energy efficient solutions for green buildings. Their initiatives include building deep research and development (R&D) capabilities for industry and academics; prototyping schemes that help firms to engineer R&D outcomes into commercial solutions; building demonstration scheme that allows innovative technologies to be integrated at actual buildings at a commercial scale; and a national database (Smart Hub) for technologies and solutions that improve energy efficiency.

Other Green Measures
BCA also has existing financing and workforce development measures to encourage the adoption of green buildings.

  • Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) scheme
Building owners who need financial assistance to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings may tap on the BREEF scheme, through March 2023. The scheme helps to finance the upfront costs for energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings, through an energy performance contract arrangement. Applicants may obtain financing from participating financial institutions and pay off the loan through the energy savings reaped. The scheme can cover the cost of equipment, installation, and professional fees.

  • Workforce Development
BCA targets to train 25,000 green professionals to support the Green Buildings pillar of the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM) by 2025. As of December 2020, more than 20,000 green professionals have been trained through courses conducted by Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) and BCA Academy. An example is the Green Mark Professional Qualification Scheme, which recognises professionals with specialist knowledge in the design and operation of environmentally friendly buildings. BCA also has a Continuing Professional Development certification renewal framework to ensure that certified Green Mark Specialists continue to keep their knowledge and skills current with industry and regulatory developments.

All these initiatives will help Singapore accelerate its green efforts and transit to a more sustainable, low-carbon BE.

Raising the Bar of Sustainability with Green Mark
  • Green Mark Champion Award 2020
BCA has maintained its focus on green buildings as one of the key initiatives to mitigate climate change. One of its efforts that recognises developers, building owners and individuals who have made outstanding achievements in environmental sustainability in the built environment is the BCA Green Mark awards, first launched at BCA Awards 2008.

A total of 376 projects, including 16 overseas, were awarded the BCA Green Mark Award in 2020. Among the awardees, 22 of them obtained the pinnacle level Green Mark Super Low Energy Building (GM SLEB) Award, including 3 Positive Energy and 3 Zero Energy buildings. To date, a total of 39 projects involving 50 industry stakeholders, have been accorded the GM SLEB Award.

The rising trend of building owners aiming for higher tier Green Mark certifications (Green Mark Platinum and higher) indicate that the industry is aware of the positive impact of green buildings and recognises them as key in efforts to fight climate change. Energy efficiency measures adopted have been shown to reap net positive savings throughout a building lifecycle, with energy savings outweighing the upfront investment cost.

Over the past five years, the number of non-residential building projects obtaining higher tier Green Mark certifications had doubled to 149.

Major Singapore developers, such as CapitaLand, City Developments Limited (CDL) and Keppel Land have also been setting targets for reducing energy use and carbon footprint in their stock of buildings.

For their efforts in demonstrating strong commitment towards corporate social responsibility and having achieved a substantial number of Green Mark Gold buildings, CapitaLand Group was awarded the most prestigious Green Mark Platinum Champion Award in 2020.

The real estate group also achieved BCA’s Green Mark Platinum SLEB certification for LogisTech, the first logistics building in Singapore to achieve this recognition. The four-storey building underwent a major upgrade to achieve higher energy efficiency standards. Separately, the Group installed 21,000 solar panels atop LogisTech and five other CapitaLand industrial properties in Singapore, enabling three of their corporate offices at different locations to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy by end 2020. As such, CapitaLand will reduce over 700 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to emissions generated from electricity consumption of 400 four-room HDB flats annually.

When CapitaLand installed a climate-friendly refrigerant chilled-water system at their new development Funan, the decision prevented about five kilo-tonnes of greenhouse gas being emitted – equivalent to the emissions of about 1,500 cars.Over time, the energy cost savings from the improved energy efficiency would more than cover the initial cost of the equipment. CapitaLand has also secured S$1.2 billion in green loans which will be used to accelerate its efforts towards greening its global portfolio by 2030.

Over the past decade, CapitaLand’s efforts in sustainability have reaped tangible benefits for the Group. Since 2009, they have achieved utilities cost avoidance of S$208 million and captured interest savings from sustainability-linked loans as a result of meeting sustainability targets.

Another Green Mark Champion Award recipient was National Environment Agency (NEA). Leading the way as a statutory board under the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE), NEA seeks to leverage and explore new technologies and innovation solutions in their development projects to ensure sustainability which cover new hawker centres, after-death facilities and services as well as management of the facilities maintenance, cyclical repairs and redecoration works of MSE-owned hawker centres.

Senja Hawker Centre adopts design strategies to ensure energy efficiency and usage of sustainable products certified under the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme. The hawker centre also uses low carbon concrete and energy-efficient LED lightings, and features a rooftop garden that reduces heat gain into the building. For its environmentally sustainable design that leads to at least 30 percent in energy savings, Senja Hawker Centre was crowned with BCA Green Mark Platinum Award.

The notable designs of Choa Chu Kang (CCK) Columbarium which houses some 147,000 niches across 18 four-storey blocks, allows natural light into niche rooms and utilises prevailing wind conditions to achieve ample ventilation within the buildings. Efforts have been put in place to reduce the total building energy usage which include setting realistic energy reduction targets and regular energy consumption monitoring each year as well as installation of solar panels to achieve the eventual target of 100 percent conventional energy source replacement. For its environmentally sustainable design and efforts in reducing the total building energy usage, CCK Columbarium also received BCA Green Mark Platinum Award.

Other winners of the Green Mark Champion Award were Singapore Police Force (SPF), UOL Group Limited and GuocoLand, who showed their strong commitment to shaping a sustainable built environment.

A total of 22 projects received the pinnacle level Green Mark Super Low Energy Building (GM SLEB) Award.

Example of the type of technologies employed in achieving best-in-class energy efficiency areas can be seen in the new development aircraft hangar for the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) at Changi Air Base designed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency. The hangar will use solar panels as a source of renewable energy and will be able to generate 1,225MWh of electricity a year, enough to power 273 4-room HDB households. In addition to the naturally ventilated hangar space, LED lightings and an energy-efficient air-conditioning system are employed to conserve electricity. The hangar also recycles rainwater for water conservation and uses sustainable building materials such as certified green materials and eco-friendly products. The project is the Singapore Armed Forces’ first net positive energy building.

Existing buildings have also hopped on the bandwagon. One Raffles Link, a SLE commercial building has made several retrofitting works to attain an overall cooling system efficiency of 0.6 kW/RT - equivalent to savings of S$120,000 per year. Some examples of such works include utilising a high efficiency chiller system, Air Handling Units (AHU) retrofit with high efficiency fans and replacing of existing lifts to an energy re-generative model. Additionally, End of Trip (EOT) facilities (such as bicycle parking with shower facilities) for green transport users was also introduced to reduce carbon footprint.

JTC Space @ Tuas Biomedical Park is located at the heart of Singapore’s biomedical park. The specialised development for the biomedical sector employs passive design strategies that include natural ventilation, use of daylight and lush landscape and greenery to ensure occupants’ comfort by maximising airflow and mitigating heat. In addition, JTC installed energy efficiency LED lightings at the common areas such as lift lobbies and carpark to minimise energy usage.

First commercial building with Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy)
On 9 December 2020, BCA certified Keppel Bay Tower, owned and operated by Keppel Land Limited (Keppel Land), as a Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) building, making it the first commercial building in Singapore to achieve this accolade.

A Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) building must, in addition to achieving a low energy use index (EUI) of less than 115 kWh/sqm per year, also have all of its energy consumption, including plug load, supplied from renewable sources, both on-site and off-site.

Giving kudos to the achievement, Mr Kelvin Wong, CEO of BCA, said, “This is a significant milestone in our green building journey and I applaud Keppel Land’s commitment and efforts in this outstanding accomplishment. It also demonstrates how research and innovation can make zero energy, high rise commercial buildings a reality. I believe this is just the first of many more to come and I look forward to upcoming contributions from across the Built Environment value chain to realise our collective goal of a greener and more sustainable Singapore.”