Singapore’s Green Building Journey

Singapore has been making steady progress on its Green Building journey for a number of years. Now into the third iteration of its Green Building Masterplan, the government's vision of a Greener built environment for Singapore is fast gathering pace with increasing buy-in from the building and construction industry.

Taking the First Steps

In 2005, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) launched the BCA Green Mark Scheme to drive Singapore's construction industry towards more environmentally-friendly buildings. The intention was to promote sustainability in the built environment and raise environmental-awareness among developers, designers and developers.

In order to achieve the BCA Green Mark, buildings would need to meet specific criteria in key areas such as energy and water efficiency, environmental protection, indoor environmental quality and other green features and innovation.

In 2006, with the Green Mark scheme in place, BCA launched Singapore's first Green Building Masterplan, which encouraged the industry to go green when developing new buildings. As part of the masterplan, a sum of S$20 million was set aside for the Green Mark Incentive Scheme (GMIS) for a period of 3 years or upon full commitment.

To further accelerate the adoption of environmentally-friendly green building technologies and building design practices, the GMIS for new buildings provided cash incentives to developers, building owners, project architects and mechanical and electrical (M&E) engineers who achieved at least a BCA Green Mark Gold rating or higher in the design and construction of new buildings.

The Ministry of National Development also launched a S$50 million research fund to encourage the development of more viable and cost-effective green building technologies and energy efficiency solutions. Some 49 proposals have been accepted since, and funds of S$32 million distributed so far.

Among the key projects committed to was BCA's flagship R&D project called the Zero Energy Building (ZEB). Opened on 26 Oct 2009, the ZEB is a three-storey addition and alteration to an existing institutional building at the BCA Academy, and was conceived to serve as a test-bed for integration of Green Building Technologies (GBT) in existing buildings.

The ZEB is around 40 to 50 per cent more efficient than a similar office building, achieved through a combination of passive design and active technologies. This includes designing the building to reduce heat transmittance, bring in daylight and encourage natural ventilation, as well as installing intelligent building features such as sensors to adjust lighting, temperature and air-conditioning control. To achieve energy sufficiency, the ZEB is powered by a broad spectrum of solar panels installed at many locations in the building.

Building Upon the Foundation

In April 2008, the Building Control Act was amended so that minimum standards are now imposed on environmental sustainability for buildings. This brought standards for all new buildings to a level on par with the Green Mark Certified standard. The government took this one step further with the launch of the second Green Building Masterplan in 2009, requiring all larger new air-conditioned public sector buildings to achieve the highest Green Mark Platinum award. Existing public sector building will need to achieve the Green Mark Gold Plus standard by 2020 too.

To encourage developers to achieve higher-tier Green Mark ratings for new and re-construction buildings, BCA and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also launched the Green Mark Gross Floor Area (GM GFA) Incentive Scheme, which awards additional gross floor area to developers who do so.

Under the second masterplan, BCA launched the S$100 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings (GMIS-EB). This cash incentive scheme aims to encourage private building owners of existing buildings to undertake retrofits to achieve significant improvement in energy efficiency.

With the second masterplan in motion, the government set itself an ambitious target to green 80 per cent of Singapore's building stock by 2030. As of the third quarter of 2014, more than one quarter of Singapore's built-up area has been greened, with the Republic on track to achieve its target in 2030.

Extending the Green Building Drive

In September 2014, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan launched the third Green Building Masterplan at the opening ceremony of the International Green Building Conference and the BEX Asia Expo. Developed by the BCA, the plan will guide Singapore's green building journey over the next five to 10 years.

This latest edition of the Green Building Masterplan is focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) tenants and occupiers. Together with building owners, they will be able to tap on the S$50 million Phase 2 Green Mark Incentive Scheme to adopt more energy-efficient measures for existing buildings and premises. The scheme will help to fund up to half of the retrofitting costs of energy-efficient improvements to buildings and premises - subject to a maximum of S$3 million for building owners and S$20,000 for occupants and tenants.

One key area of focus for the masterplan will be tapping on smart devices and data analytics in the built environment sector. The government will encourage the use of smart controls and sensors within buildings. By employing web-based tools to track, analyse and report buildings' performance, facility managers can better decide how to run their building systems to improve resource efficiency and reduce operating costs.

Another aspect of the third masterplan will be the setting up of the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC), which will seek to help the industry move beyond existing technological standards and limits through more research, development and demonstration (RD&D). Funded to the tune of S$52 million, the GBIC will integrate efforts in developing large scale and high impact demonstration projects for promising energy efficiency technologies and solutions.

A national repository of energy efficiency information will also be set up under the GBIC to provide the building industry with data and allow it to gain confidence in adopting innovative technologies. Aside from research, the GBIC will also serve as a platform to bring different building stakeholders together on projects of common interest.

Through a comprehensive framework of incentives, legislation, research, education and engagement, the BCA has successfully steered the local building a construction sector on its green building journey. Close to a decade after the launch of the BCA Green Mark, the greening of Singapore's built environment is gathering pace with industry players increasingly cognizant of the benefits of adopting green technologies and sustainable design for their buildings.

Read 7698 times