Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clean, green blueprint to redefine S'pore

$1b to kickstart plan for energy-efficient buildings, lower emissions, cleaner transport, other solutions

(SINGAPORE) The government yesterday unveiled a blueprint for sustainable development for the next 10 to 20 years, adopting a 'light-touch' approach for now to spare businesses and households from higher costs at a time of economic hardship.

Even so, there will be huge implications for developers, the transport sector, oil refineries and even makers of airconditioners, refrigerators and clothes dryers.
A key target is a 35 per cent reduction in energy consumption per dollar GDP by 2030 (from 2005 levels), which is projected to potentially generate about $3.6 billion annual savings (net of the cost of investment).
New buildings in Singapore will be more energy efficient while existing ones will be retrofitted to conserve energy.
Electric vehicles and diesel-hybrid buses will be tested out. Minimum energy performance standards for household air-conditioners and refrigerators will be introduced by 2011. In short, the moves will touch all aspects of life in Singapore.
The government will provide 'incentives, information and educate the public, as opposed to other policy options of say legislation or even disincentives such as taxes' as National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, co-chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Sustainable Development (IMCSD), said at a media briefing yesterday.
For a start, the government has set aside $1 billion for the next five years - this was announced in the January Budget statement - to help implement plans in the blueprint.
Part of this sum will go towards helping businesses reduce the upfront costs of investing in resource-efficient buildings, systems and processes. The $1 billion sum includes $100 million set aside for the new Green Mark Incentive scheme to retrofit existing private-sector buildings to boost energy efficiency.
'The temptation is to slow down our efforts in the area of sustainable development while we tackle the immediate economic challenges. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. Even as we tackle the short-term challenges, we must build capability for our long-term development,' Mr Mah said.
The blueprint keeps open the option of mandating changes in the longer term. For instance, the government will study the experiences of countries that have legislated minimum energy-efficiency standards for major energy-consuming equipment and systems and see if it needs to use the law for this.
The 128-page document, available at www.sus tainablesingapore.gov.sg, also elaborates on plans to build new R&D capabilities.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim, co-chair of IMCSD, highlighted that the 'concrete targets' set in the blueprint for 2020 and 2030 'reflect how serious we are about sustainable development'.
The targets will be reviewed every five years. 'These targets will be reviewed regularly, as technology improves and the cost-effectiveness of measures changes,' he added.
Energy-related benchmarks will be set for key industrial sectors.
Other specific targets include reducing daily domestic water consumption per capita from 156 litres currently to 140 litres by 2030. To improve air quality, ambient sulphur dioxide levels will be capped despite economic growth. Air emission standards for industry and transport will be regularly reviewed and Singapore will be benchmarked against top Asian cities - without imposing prohibitive costs on the players.
There will also be 50 additional hectares of skyrise greenery, and 900 hectares of water bodies and 100 km of waterways open for recreational activity by 2030.
Another important target set is for at least 80 per cent of Singapore's stock of buildings to achieve Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Green Mark Certified Rating by 2030.
The government will promote more efficient pollution-control equipment for industries and the use of more efficient sulphur recovery systems for oil refineries.
Singapore will be positioned as an international knowledge hub in sustainable development solutions. Solar technology will be piloted at 30 public housing precincts across the island.
Singapore will invest early in solar technology to prepare for using it on a larger scale when its cost falls closer to that of conventional energy.
BCA will develop prototype energy-efficient building designs that can more than halve energy consumption.
Clean energy and water technologies are projected to provide about $3.4 billion economic value-add per year by 2015 and to create a total of 18,000 jobs by 2015.

Source: Business Times, 28 April 2009

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