Friday, June 26, 2009

ABC guide to green design for developers

RAIN gardens and plant-covered condominiums could become commonplace if new design guidelines from the PUB are implemented by developers.

The guide, part of the Active Beautiful Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme, is aimed at developers, both public and private, and details ways in which drainage systems and water features can filter rainwater before it reaches the canals and reservoirs.

One of the ways this can be done is by using bioswales or rain gardens – shallow ditches containing top soil and plants with drainage pipes beneath. The top soil acts as a filtration system, slowing down and cleansing the water before it reaches the public drains, cutting down on dirt and reducing surges.

The founder of city planning firm Atelier Dreiseitl Asia, Mr Herbert Dreiseitl, who contributed to the drafting of the guidelines, said the process mimics nature. ‘Rainwater very quickly goes down drains, taking all litter, rubbish and dirt with it to the the reservoirs. Top soil is like a treatment plant – it can filter out nitrates and phosphates, as a forest does, and it can really purify the water perfectly.’ The hope is that this will one day lead to cleaner reservoirs and thus cut down on treatment costs.

DP Architects director Tai Lee Siang, who is on the programme’s review panel, said that with climate change having a high profile, more developers are now taking an interest in green buildings. ‘It will be interesting to know if the private sector will take it up. For very small projects…it won’t be easy as there are already many constraints with land and cost pressures, but for larger projects, it will be considered.’

One private developer already implementing such ideas is GuocoLand Group, which was praised by Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Environment and Water Resources) Amy Khor at yesterday’s launch.

Its up and coming Goodwood Residence and Sophia Residence projects both have water recycling systems and have won the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award – the highest accolade for green buildings here.

Green Mark points await developers which implement the ABC guidelines, and PUB director of catchment and waterways Tan Nguan Sen hopes the BCA will up the allotted points for ABC features.

He said the guidelines are not mandatory now.

There are now about 10 private-sector projects looking at incorporating water recycling in their designs, he said.

The guide is the final part of the ABC Waters Programme, launched in 2006 to transform Singapore’s 15 reservoirs, 32 major rivers and 7,000km of waterways into places of beauty for recreation.

Source: Straits Times, 26 June 2009

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