BCA mulls law to get owners to “green” existing buildings

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is mulling a possible law to get property owners make their existing buildings more environmentally-friendly.

The rule will cover all existing buildings, with the main focus on commercial and office buildings and hotels. This could come in two to three years to help Singapore meet its goal of “greening” 80 percent of its buildings by 2030.

So far, only 8 percent of some 210 million square metres of existing floor area have been “greened”.

To promote sustainable development, the BCA launched the Green Mark Scheme in 2005. Over 450 buildings in Singapore are now part of the scheme, and all new buildings have to meet minimum Green Mark standards.

To get existing buildings to follow suit, a S$100 million “Green Mark Incentive Scheme For Existing Buildings” was launched in April last year to encourage building owners to undertake the necessary retrofits to upgrade their buildings.

Separately, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will also grant additional floor area to encourage the private sector to develop buildings that attain higher tier Green Mark ratings.

Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA, said: “We haven’t gone very far yet but we are looking at whether there are interested developers, good consultants, designers to re-design the buildings to retrofit the buildings.”

BCA said the costs of constructing green buildings have come down.

The premium for a Green Mark Platinum building was around 2-5 percent of total investment previously. Now it’s about 1 to 2 percent. This has also cut the payback period of the investment.

BCA is also expected to update its Green Building Masterplan next month.

BCA said it is in talks with industry players and so far, some developers and landlords of hotels are keen on the idea of greening existing buildings, because of the savings that can be reaped from being energy efficient.

Separately, the Singapore Contractors Association wants to raise environmental awareness among its members through a new two-day workshop.

The association hopes to take the programme overseas in five years.

Andrew Khng, president of Singapore Contractors Association, said: “What the Association has done is it has come up with an initiative to promote a certification scheme – called SEC SCAL Eco certification scheme – for members and this is to look at reducing carbon footprint for members.”

The outlook is bright for the construction sector.

The first half of the year saw about S$11 billion of projects awarded.

BCA said another S$10b to S$16b in contracts are due out in the second half.

Construction demand for 2011 and 2012 has been projected to be between S$18b and S$25b each year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 27 Jul 2010

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