A green guide to eco-construction here

AUSTRALIA has become one of the world’s most ardent adopters of green real estate practices, thanks to the demand of best building practices from staging the 2000 Sydney Olympics and job seekers demanding eco-friendly work environments.

Here in Singapore, multinational corporations have been leading the eco-charge. To help pave the way, property consultants Colliers International has launched r.e.Design, a green real estate guide for developers, landlords and tenants.

“Over the last few years, the market has tipped towards a more sustainable standard of living thanks to climate change and rising oil prices. More and more companies are going green as a way to attract young and bright talent and as a means of differentiating themselves from other companies,” said Mr Simon Carter, Collier’s regional head of sustainability in Asia-Pacific.

The guide will help companies get a better understanding of sustainable real estate practices as green buildings become an industry standard. According to architects and builders that Today spoke to, it used to cost 30 to 40 per cent more to build a green building. Today the cost is typically just 3 to 5 per cent more.

“This is relatively small when considering the life-cycle cost of the building development,” said Mr Jason Pomeroy, director of Broadway Malyan, an architecture firm. “In time, it is hoped that the trend will continue in the more favourable economic direction as technologies improve in terms of both design, manufacture, production, execution and, therefore, their costs.”

As demand for green development grows in Singapore, local suppliers will need to stock up on more environmentally-friendly building materials.

Mr Richard Hassell, director of Woha architects, explained: “You have a client that wants to build a green home, but there’s usually one local supplier in the market or none at all. For instance, if you wanted to use low volatile organic compound plywood or sustainable harvested plywood, you have to get it overseas and that adds to cost.”

City Development’s City Square Mall development is being billed as Singapore’s first eco-mall. It hopes to achieve 30-per-cent savings in energy and water usage when completed.

This would result in an estimated emission reduction of over 5,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. It would require approximately 25,000 trees to absorb this amount of carbon dioxide.

Apart from reducing life-cycle running cost, experts believe eco-buildings will attract high-worth tenants.

“The incorporation of planted rooftop gardens, sky courts and terraces can provide spaces for social interaction. Occupants will feel empowered in that they are not compromising their own responsibilities to preserve the environment by their occupation of eco-buildings,” said Broadway Malyan’s Mr Pomeroy.

Source : Today – 23 Jul 2008

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