BCA’s 100st Green Mark Platinum Building Project
Existing buildings, when retrofitted to enhance their energy efficiency, can help building owners and tenants achieve substantial savings. Republic Plaza, a premium Grade A office building completed in 1995, is one such example. When the BCA Green Mark scheme was introduced in 2005, Republic Plaza, one of the three tallest skyscrapers in Singapore, was among the first batch of buildings to receive the BCA Green Mark Gold award. Recently, Republic Plaza went through a retrofit to further enhance its energy efficiency to attain the highest BCA Green Mark Platinum rating. The latest achievement led Republic Plaza to become BCA’s 100st Green Mark Platinum building project. This also means that about 10 per cent of the green buildings in Singapore are Green Mark Platinum buildings. There are currently more than 1,000 green building projects in Singapore.
One of the major retrofitting works that Republic Plaza underwent involved the replacement of its 15-year-old chiller system which was no longer operating at its optimal level. Two existing chiller plants were combined into a smaller but more efficient system which is expected to help the building owner, City Developments Limited (CDL), save close to 4,000,000 kWh of energy, translating to an annual savings of approximately $870,000. This is equivalent to about 17.5 per cent reduction in energy consumption for the building. In Singapore’s tropical climate, air-conditioning typically accounts for about 50 per cent of an office building’s energy consumption. Thus, there is a strong business case to retrofit an air-conditioning plant if it is no longer energy efficient. CDL expects to recover the retrofitting cost for Republic Plaza from these savings, in five years’ time or even earlier, if electricity tariff rates continue to rise in the near future.
Apart from the significant reduction in energy consumption, the space which was initially taken up by one of the chiller plants can now be converted to 200m2 of rentable area.
CDL has been investing in ‘greening’ its buildings since the 1990s. Mr Kwek Leng Joo, Managing Director of CDL said, “The building sector accounts for some 40 per cent of global energy use. We therefore recognise the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of our existing buildings and have been diligently monitoring and measuring our energy and water consumption, with a view to improve efficiency. We have been committed to enhancing the environmental performance of our properties by investing in infrastructure enhancements when required. Apart from improving the infrastructure, it is also our priority to change users’ behavior to reduce consumption of energy and water. Over the last decade, we’ve been taking a holistic approach in environmental management; engaging users through various initiatives to raise eco-consciousness amongst our tenants.”
The 66-storey Republic Plaza currently houses The Tower Club – Singapore’s premium private business club as well as over 80 offices including ING Bank, Bank of Singapore, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd and international law firms such as O’Melveny & Meyers LLP, Latham & Watkins’ LLP and King & Spalding LLP. It is also home to F&B chains like Asian Kitchen, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf S (Pte) Ltd, TWG Tea and Subway to name a few.
Mr Markus Dolenga, COO Asia of ING Bank said, “ING Bank is amongst Republic Plaza’s earliest tenants and we are pleased to retain our anchor in this Green Mark Platinum office building. As a global financial services company, we recognise that our business has far-reaching impact and we are in the position to achieve environmental and social change. Over the years, we have been supportive of the ‘greening’ of Republic Plaza, such as recycling drives and the 1°C Up campaign, which aligns with our corporate commitment towards sustainability and fosters greater environmental awareness amongst our employees.”
With the national target to have at least 80 per cent of the buildings in Singapore attain the minimum Green Mark standards by 2030, the ‘greening’ of existing buildings is one focus that BCA is placing emphasis on. However, the retrofitting of existing buildings may pose a challenge to some building owners, due to various factors like space and financial constraint.
Dr John Keung, Chief Executive Officer of BCA remains encouraged by the recent interest from building owners to ‘green’ their existing buildings. He said, “It has been an enriching learning journey for BCA and the industry over the past 7 years. Along the way, we have raised the bar for the BCA Green Mark requirements, yet more building owners and developers are going beyond the minimum standard, including existing building owners. Compared to the earlier batches of green buildings, those that are certified under the newer versions of the BCA Green Mark are also better performing and incorporate more holistic sustainable designs. Indeed, ‘greening’ buildings, especially existing ones, make good business sense, as evident in the case of Republic Plaza, because significant energy and water savings can be achieved, translating to cost and even space savings for building owners. We hope more building owners can emulate CDL’s commitment in continuously improving the energy performance of their existing buildings.”
Building owners who wish to retrofit their existing buildings can also tap on BCA’s $100 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings (GMIS-EB) that helps co-fund up to 35 per cent (capped at $1.5 million) of the costs of installing energy efficient equipment in existing buildings or up to 50 per cent of an energy audit. In addition, there is a Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) Scheme to give existing building owners financing options of up to $5 million for energy retrofits. Standard Chartered Bank, United Overseas Bank, Orix Leasing and IFS Capital are four financial institutions that are currently on board the scheme. Two applications for the retrofit works at North Bridge Centre and Tong Eng Building have been approved so far.