Tuesday, March 30, 2010

JTC's eco-friendly industrial parks

From Seletar Aerospace Park to Biopolis and Fusionopolis, estates showcase green technologies for a sustainable environment

DEVELOPING industrial parks used to be relatively straightforward - clear the land, build the factory blocks and companies will come and set up their production lines.

But JTC Corporation's job has got more complex over the years as Singapore's manufacturing sector moved up the value chain. Industrial space has had to move beyond drab buildings, to incorporate elements of good design and environmental sustainability to attract investors.

This reflects the requirements of new economic clusters such as clean technology - sectors that need to be in areas that complement their business activities.

Also, researchers, product designers and other talent vital to these sectors are looking for more than a job these days. Many are looking for a high quality of life - and green liveable workplaces count towards that.

The wider green movement is hard to ignore. As the government puts more emphasis on sustainable development, JTC has to play its part by boosting the eco-friendliness of its estates. Examples include Seletar Aerospace Park, Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

Preserving heritage

JTC's green initiatives will be plain to see at the upcoming Seletar Aerospace Park, a 300-hectare centre for aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul and aircraft system design and production.

The agency told BT: 'Great effort was made during the planning process to balance economic and infrastructural space needs with the preservation of the area's architectural and environmental heritage.'

When JTC was developing the park's master plan, it consulted the National Parks Board and held dialogue sessions with the Nature Society on trees in the area. These discussions led it to retain nine heritage trees. Inevitably, some trees had to go for roads, and to ensure airport operations will be safe.

JTC has also kept 202 of the 378 heritage buildings on the site. It plans to convert some black-and-white houses into food and beverage establishments or training institutions.

Seletar Aerospace Park will be a unique centre 'nestled in greenery and the charm of old Seletar', the agency believes.

Besides preserving the character of the site as much as possible, JTC is looking at improving water quality there. It will test a gravel filtration system at the park, aimed at cleaning rainwater before it reaches drains and reservoirs.

The stormwater management system will comprise layers of gravel, coarse sand and granite, which will remove pollutants from rainwater. This will help save water treatment costs downstream.

The gravel filtration system will debut at the Business Aviation Complex. If it improves water quality, JTC could encourage other companies in the park to adopt it in their land parcels.

The Business Aviation Complex will also have other green features, such as natural ventilation systems, vertical greenery and energy-saving lights. Construction of the building began recently and is expected to finish by the first half of 2011.

Protecting environment

Biopolis is another estate that showcases JTC's environment protection efforts. The first phase of the development at Buona Vista for biomedical research and development received the inaugural Green Mark Gold award in 2005.

The Building and Construction Authority came up with the Green Mark scheme that year to recognise environment-friendly buildings. Such buildings not only provide good publicity for developers and designers, but also use fewer resources and can help tenants save water and electricity costs.

Biopolis Phase One took the gold award for incorporating green technologies in its seven buildings. For instance, there is a district cooling system for centralised air-conditioning - water is chilled at one location and sent through a network of pipes to keep all seven buildings cool. This arrangement frees space that would have been needed for cooling equipment in each building and reduces maintenance needs.

Phase One also makes use of a pneumatic waste conveyance system. Non-toxic waste from the seven buildings is sent to a central collection area using a network of underground pipes. This removes the need to transport waste around the site.

The buildings are also test-beds for solar LED lighting, solar hot water systems and waterless urinals. For all these green measures, Biopolis phase one has won other accolades such as the PUB Water Efficient Building award and the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore's gold award.

Providing green lungs

Nearby Fusionopolis is not to be outdone when it comes to environmental sustainability. The two towers in the first phase of development have 13 sky gardens between them. These spots, some with ponds and water wells, allow employees to take a break from work in the infocommunications, media, science and engineering centre.

The International Green Roof Congress in May last year recognised these efforts - the rooftop garden at Fusionopolis received the leadership award in the category for sustainable architecture.

The upcoming Phase 2B will extend the green theme, with more roof gardens and spiralling green terraces. It is designed by Ken Yeang, an architect renowned for his work on eco-skyscrapers, and will be ready by the end of this year.

Phase 2B will see 'a network of open interactive public and semi-public spaces, creative use of skylights and courtyards for natural light and ventilation, and cascading landscaped garden terraces,' JTC said.

'It aims to inspire and meet the needs of its resident tenants in the creative industries with the provision of a wide range of intimate spaces with differing and flexible layouts.'

Source: Business Times, 30 Mar 2010

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