Tuesday, April 28, 2009

80% of buildings to be eco-friendly by 2030

More than a year in the making, the new blueprint for a sustainable Singapore sets out three key areas for a cleaner, greener environment

GREEN buildings make up a paltry 1 per cent of buildings in Singapore today, but come 2030, that number will grow to cover 80 per cent of all buildings.

This is one of the most ambitious of the many targets outlined by the Inter- Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development in its inaugural report released yesterday.

To help achieve this, property developers will be offered a carrot - free extra floor area if their new buildings are built in a way that meets high Green Mark standards. The Government has also set aside a $600 million fund to green existing public and private buildings.

Launched in 2005, the BCA Green Mark Scheme is a system that rates a building's environmental performance.

When fully implemented, all these initiatives under the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA's) second green building masterplan will help Singapore achieve annual savings of $1.6 billion in terms of energy cost reductions.

BCA's second masterplan expands on the first one, which focused on greening new buildings. A total of 245 buildings met the Green Mark standard.

But public feedback had urged BCA to do more with existing buildings, which make up majority of Singapore's physical landscape, said BCA's chief executive John Keung.

Under the new masterplan, the public sector will drive the transformation by requiring all new, large air-conditioned public buildings to achieve the highest Platinum standard from now on.

In addition, the Government will pump $500 million into greening all its public buildings to the GoldPlus standard - just one level below Platinum.

For the private sector, BCA will hand out $100 million in cash incentives to building owners to help them retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient.

Land sales to builders in strategic growth areas such as Marina Bay, Jurong Lake District, Kallang Riverside and Paya Lebar Central will also now come with a condition: Buildings constructed on the sites must achieve either a Green Mark Platinum or GoldPlus rating.

To provide incentives to the private sector, BCA is handing out free gross floor area (GFA) for new private buildings - a suggestion made by industry players during the report's feedback sessions.
Developers who build Green Mark GoldPlus buildings will get an extra 1 per cent of GFA, capped at 2,500 sq m; while Platinum buildings will get an extra 2 per cent, capped at 5,000 sq m.
Industry players such as City Developments' managing director Kwek Leng Joo have welcomed the move. Mr Kwek adding that this will 'help developers defray some investment in green technology and features'.

Even smaller developers, such as executive director Lim Yew Soon of Evan Lim & Co, said they would 'happily build green buildings despite the cost' if there were some incentives available.
Dr Keung said the masterplan will 'not only result in more of our buildings being able to achieve substantial savings in energy costs, but it also provides a boost to the 'green collar' job market'.

About 18,000 green specialists are expected to be trained over the next 10 years in the development, design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings.

In the longer term, BCA is considering mandating energy labelling for existing buildings so as to encourage building owners to green their physical assets to a high level of efficiency.

Source: Straits Times, 28 April 2009

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