Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources & Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the Opening of the Singapore Green Building Week, IGBC and BEX Asia 2012
SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER, PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES & SECOND MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE OPENING OF THE SINGAPORE GREEN BUILDING WEEK, IGBC AND BEX ASIA 2012
Mr Quek See Tiat
Building and Construction Authority
Mr Tai Lee Siang
Singapore Green Building Council
Mr Paul Reh
President, Asia Pacific
Ladies and gentlemen
1. A very good morning to all of you and it is indeed my very great pleasure to return to International Green Building Conference, having attended the first one in Singapore in 2009. It is certainly good to be back.
2. Climate change has increasingly come to the fore in international fora in recent years, and there are certainly strong reasons for this. For Singapore, we are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, as we are a small city-state with an open economy, with industries that rely heavily on energy. And we are obviously an island-state very susceptible to rising sea levels. We are alternative energy-disadvantaged. Due to our geography, we do not have access to hydroelectric power or geothermal reserves, and our climatic patterns are not conducive for leveraging wind or solar energy. We simply do not have the space for it. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations have indicated that if we were to adopt solar energy entirely for our energy needs, we probably need an area that is ten times the size of our island. So you can see, that it is really not a viable solution at this point in time to rely on alternative energy to a big extent. But nevertheless, try we must, to adopt alternative energy as much as we can.
3. Therefore, improving energy efficiency becomes a key strategy in our climate change and sustainable development efforts. The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint was developed in 2009 and outlined our national targets for 2030. By 2030, we aim to achieve a 35 per cent improvement in energy efficiency and a greening of 80 per cent of our buildings in Singapore.
4. The building industry therefore has a very significant role to play in Singapore’s strive towards greater energy efficiency and reduced emissions. This is because the building sector alone accounts for almost one-third of Singapore’s total energy consumption, and energy costs typically constitute about 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the total operating cost of a building. Hence, energy efficiency should not be seen just as a fad; but also an important initiative that will bring real economic benefits. When you conserve energy, it does not simply promote a cleaner environment. It helps to bring about a better environment for us as well as future generations. But it also lowers the operating costs for your businesses.
5. Many of you will be familiar with the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Scheme, which was launched in 2005. It has been seven years, and there are now close to 1,300 green building projects, representing about 17 per cent of the building projects in Singapore.
6. To bring ourselves to the next phase, the drive to green existing buildings has been accelerated recently. The Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings was made more attractive, and can now support up to 50 per cent or $3 million of retrofitting costs. Last month, a new legislation was also passed in the Parliament in Singapore to require existing buildings to achieve minimum sustainability standards when a cooling system is installed or retrofitted. This made Singapore the first in the world to mandate requirements for environmental sustainability standards for existing buildings.
7. The next thrust under BCA’s Green Building Masterplan was to rope in the participation of an important stakeholder – the user or the building occupant. BCA has been creating awareness over the years, through roving exhibitions in the heartlands. It has also started new Green Mark schemes, like the Green Mark for Office Interiors, which target the building’s occupants. The intent is to influence building users’ behaviour, which has a significant impact on energy consumption.
8. We will do more to ride on this momentum and I am pleased to announce two more new initiatives today.
9. First, a further extension of the Green Mark scheme to data centres. This is a very special but important group of building users. Energy-related costs are estimated to account for approximately half of the overall operating expenditure in a typical data centre in Singapore. As data centres become more energy-intensive, this proportion is expected to grow over the years. These present opportunities to help data centres embrace more green and energy efficient practices, which could then be a source of the industry’s competitive advantage. A green data centre is estimated to be able to achieve potential energy savings of up to 30 per cent. Greener and more energy-efficient data centres will not only benefit from reduced costs, but also value-add to their brand to be known as energy-conscious and environmentally friendly because they adopt good energy and environmental management practices.
10. The second new initiative will help to develop an environmentally-friendly building sector and further facilitate the use of sustainable materials in construction. I am pleased to announce that BCA has teamed up with academia and the industry to develop a guide on Concrete Usage Index, which is an indicator to benchmark and encourage more efficient concrete usage in building works. The guide on the Index will be shared here at this conference and an online version will be put up on BCA’s website after the conference.
11. This year’s International Green Building Conference (IGBC) and BEX Asia brings together once again, an international network of green advocates to share their knowledge and create networking opportunities for industry practitioners in the region. This objective is underscored by the theme of this year’s conference, “Green Community. Green Action.”. This encapsulates the idea, very aptly, that to realise our vision of “greening” our city and the environment, it is not sufficient for the Government and the industry to take action, but the community has to play a part as well.
12. Today also marks the start of the Singapore Green Building Week which began three years ago, as part of our efforts to promote awareness of the benefits of greener building environments to a larger audience. For the first time this year, BCA is organising a series of green building exhibitions in various shopping malls under the theme “Together we build our green future”. This will be officially launched at Lot 1 Shoppers’ Mall at Choa Chu Kang this Thursday. I am very excited about this outreach and I encourage BCA to pursue and press on because I believe that getting our local community excited is a sure way to have a very sustained progress towards a greener environment. And I am sure that many would find it informative and inspiring.
13. On this note, I would like to thank all partners and businesses for your support in adopting and driving green building initiatives. The strong collaboration between Government, private and people sectors is needed to achieve our vision of greening 80 per cent of all our buildings by 2030. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is no secret that the Singapore Government and the people has always seen a clean and beautiful environment as a distinguishing feature for our city, and has always been inspired to do more to provide a beautiful living environment for our people. So I welcome all of you to join us on this journey to continue to bring the city to the next level of being an energy-efficient, a pro-environment, and a clean and green environment, for our people to work and play in.
14. It gives me great pleasure to declare the Singapore Green Building Week, the International Green Building Conference 2012 and the BEX Asia 2012 open. I wish everyone a very fruitful conference and to our foreign visitors, do enjoy your stay in Singapore.