Singapore’s Built Environment Have Been Greened

43% Of Singapore’s Built Environment Have Been Greened

SINGAPORE – The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) shared that 43 percent of the city-state’s buildings by their gross floor area (GFA) have been turned into eco-friendly spaces so far, reported ChannelNewsAsia (CNA) on Thursday morning (27 May, SGT).

This is in line with Singapore’s goal to green at least 80 percent of its buildings in terms of GFA by 2030.

However, the remaining 57 percent of GFA that have not been transformed into eco-friendly spaces are mainly located in ageing buildings with an average age of around 26 years. In particular, about 33 percent are non-residential buildings, including commercial properties, while the rest are residential.

According to Surbana Jurong’s Group Chief Executive, Wong Heang Fine, it’s more complicated to green older buildings due to many existing parameters.

“It depends on things like how the building is oriented. If it’s [west-facing], it absorbs a lot of heat during the day and then your cooling load for the building goes up, and of course, the carbon emissions will also go up.”

Another factor is the construction material utilised: glass facades allow more heat to permeate, whereas structures made from Brick are more insulating. But not much can be done to decrease the embodied carbon in existing buildings, Wong explained.

Moreover, properties owned by a single entity are easier to upgrade as opposed to strata developments, where there are many unit owners.

“Getting all the owners to agree is extremely difficult,” noted Wong, adding that some owners rent their strata-titled space, so they’re not inclined to invest in newer systems.

“Everyone has their own opinion because they own the unit for different purposes, so it’s hard to get everyone to [reach a consensus],” added Qiu Xuan, Deputy General Manager of Comfort Management, which upgraded the chiller plant and fittings of The Adelphi in Singapore.

Located in the heart of City Hall, the retail and office project was constructed in 1985, but it was overhauled by Comfort Management in recent years.

Thanks to the major makeover, The Adelphi reduced its power costs by around S$0.5 million per annum, revealed its Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST). The mixed-use project also obtained a Green Mark Platinum certification from the BCA in 2017, and it bagged the ASEAN Energy Award in 2020.

Apart from improving the reputation of the commercial property and its owners, another benefit was that they were able to remove the old chiller and freed up rentable space, shared the MCST’s Chairman Jehu Chan.

However, the required huge capital investment for building upgrades and renovation can make property owners hesitate, particularly amidst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Xuan.

Fortunately, the BCA is offering some cash-based incentive schemes to make buildings eco-friendlier. These include the Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) Scheme, whereby owners can borrow up to S$4 million or 90 percent of the overall cost to install energy efficient equipment.

So far, 20 building owners have collectively loaned over S$30 million under the BREEF Scheme, which will be reviewed before it expires in 2023, added the BCA.

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