Speech by Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs, and Trade & Industry S Iswaran at the Standards eXchange on Resource Efficiency
Mr Rob Steele,
Secretary-General, International Organization for Standardization
Mr Edwin Khew,
Chairman, Singapore Standards Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to join you this morning at the Standards eXchange on Resource Efficiency.
In the first quarter of 2013, our economy expanded by 0.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis. On the back of a gradual improvement in global economic growth, and barring unforeseen downside risks to the global economy, our economic growth forecast for the year remains in the 1 to 3 per cent range.
Meanwhile, global demand for resources has been increasing. This has kept the prices of key resources like energy and minerals at relatively higher levels for the last few years. Many countries have enacted environmental legislation, imposed taxes and introduced regulations, to arrest the impact of this surge in resource usage on the environment. This has led to increased costs for enterprises.
Importance of Resource Efficiency
Against this backdrop, the smart use of resources is key to enhancing business productivity and competitiveness, and succeeding in this challenging economic environment.
One good example is water, where the industrial and commercial sectors account for more than half our national consumption. These non-domestic users are expected to increase their share of consumption to 70 per cent in the next 50 years. To address this, the Government has introduced measures to encourage more efficient use of our water resources.
One such measure is the Green Mark scheme which was introduced in 2005 to promote sustainable development in the construction industry. Developers and building owners are encouraged to come up with designs that reduce water and energy usage and minimise the impact on the environment. At the end of 2012, more than 1,500 buildings have received the Green Mark, making up 20 per cent of total building floor space in Singapore.
In March this year, a new national standard for water efficiency management systems was also launched for non-domestic users. This Singapore Standard, SS 577, is a world first. It helps enterprises put in place policies, systems and processes to improve water efficiency, and is part of PUB’s goal to achieve 10 per cent savings in non-domestic water consumption.
Beyond water, energy is another key resource that enterprises must optimise to manage business costs. Our industrial and commercial sectors account for 56 per cent of our national energy consumption.
Energy costs can constitute a significant part of our SMEs’ operating costs. Energy accounts for 13 per cent of operating costs across all manufacturing SMEs, more than the 11 per cent average for all manufacturing companies in Singapore. To remain competitive and grow, our SMEs need to be smart users of energy.
One way to enhance efficiency in the use of key resources like water and energy is to leverage on Singapore’s quality and standards infrastructure. An example of a company that has managed to do so is HSL Constructor Pte Ltd, a company involved mainly in marine civil engineering, plant engineering and providing ground engineering solutions. By adopting the ISO 50001 energy management systems standard, HSL Constructor reported a 50 percent reduction in energy used per man-hour over two years.
Promoting Energy Efficiency among SMEs
To further help SMEs improve energy efficiency, I am pleased to announce that the Government is launching the SME Energy Efficiency initiative. We will be setting aside some $17 million for SMEs to assess, monitor and improve their energy performance. This will encompass the four areas of Energy Audit, Energy Monitoring System, Energy Efficiency Project Implementation and Energy Efficiency Thought Leadership.
First, SMEs can now use SPRING’s Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) to conduct an audit of their current energy usage and to identify areas to improve energy efficiency. For this, SMEs can work with any of the 11 Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) that have been pre-qualified to provide energy audits under the ICV scheme.
Secondly, for energy monitoring, funding is available through iSPRINT for SMEs to install systems that allow long-term continuous self-monitoring of energy consumption. From the data so collected, companies can identify energy-intensive areas within their operations which can be improved.
Thirdly, SMEs can obtain further funding from SPRING under the Capability Development Grant (CDG) to undertake larger energy efficiency projects that could involve process optimisation, workflow redesign or the installation of energy-efficient equipment or technologies.
Finally, the SME Energy Efficiency initiative also supports thought leadership in energy efficiency under a pilot training programme developed in collaboration with the McKinsey Capability Centre: Green Campus, to drive the sustainability of energy efficiency initiatives in the organisation.
The Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS) will lead the SME Energy Efficiency initiative with the support of SPRING Singapore, the National Environment Agency and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. We aim to help some 300 SMEs achieve at least 10 per cent savings in energy consumption over the next three years.
Besides resource efficiency, we also help our enterprises plug into world trends and developments in quality and standards that could have an impact on their business.
Singapore, represented by SPRING, has been playing an active role internationally in developing and promoting the use of standards. Singapore is a Participating Member or Observer in more than 140 Technical Committees and Working Groups of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and in 95 Technical Committees and Working Groups of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). In addition, we also participate actively in other international and regional quality and standards fora. These networks of international partnerships help ensure that our enterprises are attuned to global trends and developments, and have better access to overseas markets.
Today, I am pleased to announce that we will be deepening our ties with one of our key international partners. The ISO will be setting up a Regional Office in Singapore in September this year for an initial two-year pilot. It will be the ISO’s first office outside its Geneva headquarters. The objective of this Regional Office is to enhance support for ISO members in the region. It will also increase ISO’s outreach to industry and other key stakeholders in the region, and help them to appreciate how standards can help enterprises reduce cost, increase efficiency and gain market access.
In addition, I am happy to announce that SPRING has also been appointed as the secretariat for the Pacific Area Standards Congress (or PASC) from 2014 to 2016. PASC was established in 1973 to bring together standards bodies in the Pacific Rim region to strengthen global trade and commerce through quality and standards. With the establishment of the ISO Regional Office here and the appointment of Singapore as the PASC secretariat, we will be well-positioned to play an even more active role in the development of standards which are important to the future of the Asia-Pacific region.
In conclusion, with a good system of quality and standards, our enterprises can become more efficient, productive and competitive, as well as contribute to health, safety, and the protection of the environment. With continued support from the Government, and now with the ISO and PASC establishing a stronger presence in the region, I hope our enterprises, especially our SMEs, will continue to capitalise on our quality and standards infrastructure to upgrade, grow and succeed.
I wish you a pleasant and fruitful day ahead. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry