Govt unveils sustainable development blueprint for next decade

Despite the economic downturn, Singapore is soldiering on with a new blueprint for sustainable development for the next 10-20 years.

Under the plan, at least 80 per cent of all buildings in Singapore will be energy-efficient by 2030.

This is part of a grand plan, which aims to make Singapore a “lively and livable” city without straining natural resources. Some $1 billion will be spent for the first five years.

Up above some flats in Serangoon, solar panels are tapping the sun’s energy, which is then used to power the common areas below. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said that so far the results are promising.

Dr Wong Liang Heng, HDB’s deputy director for sustainability & building research, said: “It’s actually part of HDB’s big plans to try to reduce energy consumption for HDB estates. However, solar… is still quite expensive, but we still want to test it out to learn more about this technology and also to build capability in Singapore.”

HDB will roll out this project to 28 existing precincts and two new ones. It will be the largest solar test bed programme in Singapore, costing some S$31 million.

This pilot project is part of an ambitious plan to reduce energy consumption by a third by 2030 and to raise the overall recycling rate and public transport share – both to 70 per cent.

Half a billion dollars is available to retrofit public sector buildings, while the private sector can tap on a S$100 million incentive scheme to do the same.

All new government sector buildings will have to achieve the highest Green Mark accolade – the Green Mark Platinum award.

And buildings in four new strategic growth areas will also have to meet the highest Green Mark rating. These areas are Marina Bay and Downtown Core, Jurong Gateway in Jurong Lake District, Kallang Riverside and Paya Lebar Central.

The requirement will reduce the areas’ energy consumption by 25 per cent. The sustainable development road map allows for the building of more cycling tracks and greater use of clean transport and technology to make this possible.

For example, S$43 million will be invested into implementing cycling networks in selected HDB towns over the next five years.

The blueprint was unveiled by the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Sustainable Development, chaired by both National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim.

The committee, set up in January last year, consulted extensively with various groups to put together a clear national strategy in the context of emerging domestic and global challenges.

Mr Mah said: “This is a long-term commitment, we are facing economic difficulties, there is a downturn at the moment, but we need to launch this blueprint even in this not so good time because sustainable development is a long-term challenge.

“What we enjoy today is what was put in place many years ago. So if you want to face the challenges of the future, you really have to start now, you really have to start today and it’s going to take us a long time.”

Dr Yaacob said: “These targets are what we have worked out from the bottom up with various stakeholders and we are confident that we can achieve this. We will take a five-year period to review as we go along because things may improve, technology may offer new solutions and then we will revise it accordingly.”

The spinoff to all this is a “green collar workforce”, which will see some 18,000 “green specialists” trained over the next 10 years in the development, design and maintenance of green buildings.

They will form the core of the new “clean tech” sector, which will develop through an R&D park at Jalan Bahar for test-bedding such technologies.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 27 Apr 2009

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