12 September 2017

Expect healthier, greener buildings in Singapore

Tai Lee Siang, Chair, World Green Building Council, delivering a speech during the opening ceremony for SGBW.
Tai Lee Siang, Chair, World Green Building Council, delivering a speech during the opening ceremony for SGBW.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced during the opening ceremony for Singapore Green Building Week (SGBW) that it will roll out new initiatives stemming from a review of its third Green Building Masterplan in phases. The initiatives include enhancing the indoor environment quality for occupants, encouraging high-energy efficient buildings as well as greening existing buildings and spaces.

The news was announced by Desmond Lee, Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, guest of honour at the ceremony. Lee shared that Singapore targets to reduce carbon emissions intensity* by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030, and that one of the strategies to do so is to improve the energy efficiency in buildings.

"This is because up to a quarter of our carbon emissions come from our buildings," he explained. "So we have made it our priority to 'green' our buildings."

Tai Lee Siang, Chair, World Green Building Council, also noted that the green building movement has many benefits for Singapore. "Green building economy encourages new and innovative breakthroughs in building science and management," he said, advising industry players to take their lessons to the rest of the world.

According to Lee, a third of Singapore's buildings meet the minimum Green Mark certified standard. "We want to raise this to 80% by 2030," he said.

According to research by BCA and the National University of Singapore (NUS) on indoor environmental quality (IEQ), BCA Green Mark buildings are more energy-efficient and provide a healthier indoor environment for occupants. Green Mark buildings regulate ventilation rates (CO2 levels) and filter out fine particulates and bacteria more effectively than non-Green Mark buildings. Occupants said they were more satisfied with the indoor environment and were less likely to experience the symptoms of sick building syndrome. The results of the research will help BCA refine its criteria for future BCA Green Mark schemes, the agency said.

Momentum for the greening of buildings and the globalisation of the Green Mark certification will be sustained through:

Piloting a set of revised criteria for the Green Mark for Existing Non-Residential Buildings (GMENRB: 2017) scheme 

BCA will pilot a new set of criteria for the Green Mark for Existing Non-Residential Buildings (GMENRB: 2017) scheme for one year. These include enhanced requirements for building owners to improve the IEQ for occupants as well as adopt smart control systems to operate the buildings. One such improvement method could be using ventilation strategies to regulate the fresh air intake into a building.

"Essentially, the revised criteria will place greater emphasis on sustainable building management, health and wellbeing of building occupants, as well as smart controls," said Lee.

BCA is also exploring a new Green Mark scheme with the Health Promotion Board which will encourage good design, such as the provision of energy efficient lighting and office equipment as well as workplace health-related programmes to encourage healthy practices in offices. The new scheme aims to get companies to consider the health and wellbeing of building occupants when designing interior fit-outs and provisions of offices, as well as workplace health programmes and policies for workers.

Using technology to make buildings more energy-efficient

Singapore will work with research institutions to develop a roadmap to achieve positive energy low-rise buildings, zero energy medium-rise buildings, and super low energy high-rise buildings (PE-ZE-SLEB).

"This will help us meet the growing demand for smarter and greener buildings in our tropical and urban context," Lee said.

Intensifying efforts to strengthen and grow the green-collar workforce

BCA targets to increase the workforce to 25,000 by 2025, up from around 16,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians today and a target of 20,000 by 2020 previously in response to growing demand for green building design and technologies. This is a key trend in the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM) which is currently under development.

Improving information transparency on building energy performance

Further, BCA will disclose the energy performance data of commercial buildings, subject to owners' voluntary agreement as a follow-on to last year's round of anonymised disclosure. The organisation said this will cover roughly three-quarters of all commercial buildings in Singapore and aims to encourage building owners and facilities managers to adopt cost-effective measures to reduce the energy footprints of their buildings.

"We had asked commercial building owners whether they will voluntarily disclose their building energy performance data. The vast majority were supportive," said Lee. "We hope that this will raise awareness and spur all building owners to do more to improve their energy performance."

In addition, greater transparency for building energy data is expected to raise demand for green buildings and related services. Green building firms can expect more market opportunities both locally and regionally in areas such as energy audits and environmentally-sustainable design, as well as drive research to advance green building solutions locally and regionally, BCA said.

Hugh Lim, BCA CEO said, "BCA continues to work with stakeholders to green our built environment. In addition to our focus on energy and resource efficiency, it is timely for us to consider how good design in green buildings can impact occupants' health and sense of wellbeing. Making such benefits clear to building users will better engage them as champions of change in promoting green practices at homes, offices and schools. This will strengthen the impetus for developers and building owners to create greener and healthier spaces for the end user."

The Green Mark scheme was established in 2005 by the BCA as a set of environmental sustainability standards for buildings. The first Green Building Masterplan was created 11 years ago, with the second plan in 2009 and the third plan three years ago.


View energy performance data for commercial buildings on BCA's website and at Singapore's open data portal. The data will be released this week.

*Emission intensity is the volume of emissions measured in relation to something else, for example emissions per unit of GDP.