Speech by Minister Khaw at the Joint Official Opening Ceremony of International Green Building Conference and Bex Asia 2014
This International Green Building Conference and BEX Asia 2014 offer a useful platform for experts like yourselves and practitioners around this region to meet, sharing their experiences, solutions and best practices against the twin global challenges of climate change and further intensification of urbanisation. These challenges are very complex issues, without simple solutions, and they require all of us in the global community to work together to find practical answers.
This morning, I will just focus on the subject on green buildings. What are green buildings and why are they important?
Green buildings are designed, built and run to reduce harmful impact to our environment. Greener buildings use less electricity and water than conventional buildings. Having greener buildings reduces energy consumption. They, therefore, contribute to global efforts to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Green buildings also provide a better indoor environment. Researchers have observed how green buildings can contribute to the health, well-being and productivity of their users. If they are designed and run well, green buildings can therefore save money, increase comfort and also create healthier environments for our people to live, to work and to play.
A People-centric 3rd Green Building Masterplan
Let me share briefly Singapore’s green building journey.
In 2005, we took the first step when we launched the BCA Green Mark scheme. It provides an objective method to evaluate how well buildings achieve environmental sustainability. It was designed specifically for buildings in the tropics and sub-tropics.
In 2006, with the Green Mark scheme in place, we launched our first Green Building Masterplan. Our first Masterplan focused on new buildings in Singapore, to encourage, enable and engage the industry to come on board this very important initiative.
In 2009, we were ready to go the next step of tackling existing buildings. This is of course more challenging because it would cause owners more money to retrofit. This is when we launched the second Green Building Masterplan, focusing on greening the huge stock of existing buildings. We set ourselves an ambitious target to green 80 per cent of our building stock by 2030.
Among other things, we set up the Singapore Green Building Council. It was the first industry-led organisation to champion the local green building movement. The Council has been instrumental in fostering a close partnership between the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) and the private sector. This has been critical to raising industry awareness of and excellence in green building practices. Our Green Council is today one of the more than 100 green building councils in the world.
So what has been the progress since the second Masterplan?
We have greened more than one quarter of Singapore’s built-up area. This is a proud achievement. We are on track to achieve our 80 per cent target by 2030.
Today, we are ready to launch the third Green Building Masterplan to take Singapore’s greening efforts beyond the building structures and hardware, to focus more on all of us as end-users. This third Masterplan aims to change our behaviour and practices. The ultimate objective is to create a high-quality living environment that has a positive impact on our health and our well-being.
Let me highlight 3 major initiatives in the third Green Building Masterplan.
First, we will set up a $52 million fund for the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC). This idea is to develop, test, monitor and showcase new green building solutions. These solutions will focus on applications especially relevant to the tropics and sub-tropics. We hope the cluster will help experts and the industry, both locally as well as from the region, to come together to share knowledge and work together on solutions to improve energy efficiency.
We hope we can continue to push the envelope to design and build greener buildings. Developing innovative solutions in the lab is the first step. We need more opportunities to bring solutions from the lab to the real world situations – in actual buildings. We must make it easier and faster for these solutions to be adopted when we build or retrofit existing buildings. We hope GBIC and the $52 million fund can help catalyse this.
Wider Collaboration and Engagement
Second, we will implement a $50 million Phase 2 Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings and Premises (GMIS-EBP). This scheme will give funding support to both building owners as well as their tenants to make energy efficiency improvements. It is especially targeted at helping our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
This way, we hope to see wider collaboration and engagement among not only the Government agencies, developers and building owners, but also with tenants who are the end-users.
Third, BCA will introduce a new award, a new Green Mark Pearl Award, this time to recognise developers and building owners who have actively engaged their tenants to reduce energy consumption through changes in their behaviour and their daily operations.
Proven Sustainability Performance
Today, BCA will release its inaugural Building Energy Benchmarking Report 2014. It provides an objective assessment of our green building efforts, based on robust evidence of our energy efficiency performance.
The Report confirmed that our commercial buildings have indeed become more energy efficient in the last 5 years, and that Green Mark commercial buildings are indeed more energy efficient. This is reassuring, especially for building owners where they will then see the bottom line benefits of participating in this movement.
The challenges of climate change and greater urbanisation are here to stay and affect us all. Government, businesses, community groups and individuals, all have a part to play to address these challenges. This Conference is a good opportunity for us to have a full and free exchange of ideas, insights, and experiences.
To end off, I wish all of you a very productive time in the next three days in Singapore.
Source: Ministry of National Development