Speech by Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education Grace Fu at the Official Opening of the International Skyrise Greenery Conference 2010 at the National Library Board
Mr Roland Appl
President, International Green Roof Association
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am delighted to be here this morning at the official opening of the inaugural International Skyrise Greenery Conference 2010. Organised by the National Parks Board, the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology and the International Green Roof Association, this conference has attracted more than 400 participants from 25 countries.
It will be an excellent opportunity for academics, practitioners, architects and government officials to exchange ideas and share their experiences in skyrise greenery.
Skyrise Greenery is a Global Phenomenon
2. In today’s context of rapid urbanisation, 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by the year 2050. Cities will increasingly face competing uses of land, and it will be challenging to set aside sufficient land for parks and greenery.
3. It is therefore not surprising that skyrise greenery, in the form of green roofs, vertical greenery and sky gardens, is growing among cities around the world. It is especially an attractive proposition for cities that are limited by space, but seek to provide a quality living environment for their people.
Benefits of Skyrise Greenery
4. All of us are familiar with the benefits of skyrise greenery. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change and global warming, skyrise greenery will become an important tool for our sustainable development. It helps to reduce ambient and surface temperatures, as well as noise and glare in a built environment. It has also proven to help reduce energy consumption in buildings. The fact that skyrise greenery significantly helps to mitigate the urban heat island effect has been recognised by many cities including Chicago, Tokyo, Toronto, and Singapore. Many European cities have installed green roofs over the past four decades to reduce the amount of storm water discharge, and minimise the occurrence of flash floods.
5. Skyrise greenery also creates a more aesthetically pleasing environment for people to live and work in. The greenery can attract birds and butterflies, thus enhancing biodiversity in our cities.
Singapore’s Value Propositions
6. Singapore promotes skyrise greenery as a key strategy to achieve our vision of a City in a Garden. With about 5 million people living on an island of 700 square kilometers, we strive to build up a pervasive matrix of streetscape, landscape and vertical greenery.
7. Our urban planning authority - the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and the National Parks Board have introduced the Landscaping for Urban Spaces and Highrises programme and the Green Roof Incentive Scheme respectively.
Both schemes offer building owners and developers incentives such as additional gross floor area and co-funding to implement rooftop greenery. The Housing Development Board (HDB) has also started to install rooftop gardens or green roofs in multi-storey carparks in new public housing projects, and will convert the roofs of existing multi-storey carparks where practicable.
8. We plan to do more. Given the rapidly growing interest in skyrise greenery, there is global demand for innovative and cost-effective skyrise greenery solutions. Let me outline three value propositions which Singapore can offer in meeting this demand.
9. First, as a compact city, Singapore is an ideal place for test-bedding of skyrise greenery solutions on different scales - from the building, to the precinct, and the township level. Companies with new and innovative products can conduct pilot trials on our building stock.
With the maturing of different green building technologies, it is also timely that research and development efforts be devoted to the integration of skyrise greenery solutions with other green building efforts. Some of these include the use of photovoltaic, rainwater harvesting and recycling systems, and onsite treatment of waste water. These efforts are well-aligned with Singapore’s current push towards being a regional leader in green building development.
10. Second, Singapore is located within a region that is rich in biodiversity. We have accorded high priority to enhancing biodiversity in our highly urbanised areas. With our track record in urban planning, we are in a good position to demonstrate how skyrise greenery enhances building performance, as well as how it can be an important component of an urban ecosystem with rich biodiversity. This requires an integration of urban planning, urban design, ecology know-how, and horticultural knowledge.
We believe that Singapore can be a model on how skyrise greenery contributes effectively in balancing the competing demands between development and nature in a compact city.
11. Third, Singapore can be a regional centre for developing manpower capabilities. Through NParks’ Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (or CUGE in short), knowledge generated from R&D and test-bedding can be quickly translated into teaching materials and best management practices. CUGE provides programmes for all levels of the workforce. Next year, CUGE will launch two new Landscape Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) programmes at the Diploma and Advanced Certificate Level jointly developed with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. These programmes will help build a pool of qualified landscape professionals with the creativity and innovative thinking to create sustainable and beautiful green spaces.
We welcome partnership with different organisations and professionals to realise the potential of CUGE as a platform for capacity and capability development.
12. Let me conclude by congratulating the winners of this year’s SIA-NParks Skyrise Greenery Awards. I hope that the awards will encourage more architects and building owners to incorporate skyrise greenery elements in their building designs, and to create “spaces of delight” in these developments.
13. I wish all of you a fruitful and enjoyable conference. Thank you.
Source: National Parks Board