Monday, June 14, 2010

Going green pays off for developers

Eco-friendly projects awarded more floor space under BCA scheme

(SINGAPORE) Going green has its rewards, and some developers have got them in the form of additional floor space for their projects.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) told BT that it has received 37 applications for a scheme that grants eco-friendly buildings more gross floor area (GFA).

The agency has approved some of these requests, from companies such as City Developments (CDL), Soilbuild Group, Ascendas and Parkway Holdings.

BCA and the Urban Redevelopment Authority launched the Green Mark GFA Incentive Scheme in April last year to encourage private developers to go green.

If buildings meet certain Green Mark standards, owners can apply for additional GFA beyond the master plan gross plot ratio control. Developments with the Platinum rating can receive up to 2 per cent more GFA (capped at 5,000 sq m), while those with the Gold Plus rating are eligible for up to one per cent more (capped at 2,500 sq m).

The bonus GFA is not entirely free though - developers still have to pay a development charge or differential premium for the space.

Nevertheless, some developers have found it worthwhile to sign up for the GFA incentive scheme. BCA said that of the 37 applications, 10 were for residential projects, six for commercial developments and the remaining 21 for mixed-use and other types of buildings.

Changi City, developed jointly by Ascendas and Frasers Centrepoint, is a project which received bonus GFA. The developers decided to aim for a Green Mark Gold Plus rating partly because of the incentive scheme, said Ascendas Land (Singapore) CEO Tan Yew Chin.

A few other developers were already eyeing the Platinum or Gold Plus rating before the scheme existed. For instance, Soilbuild had drawn up plans for Solaris at one-north with the Platinum rating in mind and 'during the course of the design, the Green Mark GFA Incentive Scheme was introduced', it said.

CDL told BT that environmental sustainability has always been high on its agenda. Its residential project Cube 8 at Thomson Road, which won the Green Mark Platinum award, qualified for 377 sq m of bonus GFA from the scheme. CDL was able to build three more apartments, bringing the total number of units to 177.

Even a healthcare service provider is riding on the green trend. Parkway got an additional 1,447 sq m of GFA at Parkway Novena Hospital, which is likely to receive the Platinum rating. The extra space will go towards 'better diagnostic and treatment facilities', a Parkway spokesman said.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han supports the incentive scheme, noting that buildings meeting Green Mark standards would cost developers relatively more to build.

The green movement in Singapore is still in an 'infancy' stage compared with other countries such as the United States and Australia, he said. 'But, we're getting there.

Source: Business Times, 14 Jun 2010

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