More carrots needed, says expert panel

Govt could do more by taking the lead in procurement of green and energy efficient components

IN JAPAN, banks offer preferential loan rates to building owners who aim for higher green ratings. In Germany, the government offers subsidies to residential owners to go green.

Offering such incentives is just one of the suggestions from the International Panel of Experts (IPE) for Sustainability of the Built Environment.

A meeting to review the two-year-old Green Building Masterplan, which was held on Monday and Tuesday, included the IPE, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and other experts from the building industry.

Fiscal incentives such as green loans, according to the panel, are necessary in helping the private sector achieve Green Mark ratings in their upgrading. The Green Mark is a rating system by the BCA to evaluate a building for its environmental impact and performance.

Said panel member and chief executive of Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, Professor Joachim Luther: “In Germany, strong subsidies from the government help building owners, not just commercial ones, but residential owners to retro-fit.”

Meanwhile, developers of higher-tier Green Mark new buildings could be rewarded with more gross floor area.

The panel also said that the Government could do more by taking the lead in procurement of green and energy efficient components, such as rainwater tanks or solar panels. This will result in economies of scale and drive down the cost for the private sector as well.

It recommended that the Government institute green leasing policies for all Government agencies, for example, to rent and lease only Green Mark Goldplus and Platinum new and existing buildings.

Other suggestions from the panel include more R&D on green building technologies and more training for facility managers to handle the operation and maintenance of green buildings as this will sustain the operation of Green Mark projects after certification.

Developers such as Lend Lease and CDL, which have won Green Mark Awards before, welcomed the recommendations.

Said a CDL spokesperson: “As we have yet to enjoy economies of scale for investing in green technologies and procurement, the provision of incentives will be a welcome carrot for more developers and building owners to do so.”

Lend Lease’s, Global Head of Sustainability, Ms Maria Atkinson, suggested “a reduction of capital gains tax payable by investors and developers on the sale of properties that meet certain green building requirements” would encourage building owners to Green Mark their buildings.

“Also more R&D tax concessions for innovation in green building practices; accelerated depreciation for the whole asset as well as fixtures and fittings for investment in green building technologies and systems,” she added.

On another issue, the panel recommended that sufficient building energy data be collected and developed into an energy benchmark, so that building owners and managers know how their buildings fare against other similar green buildings.

Agreeing with the panel’s suggestion, Mr Tay Kheng Soon, principal founder of architectural firm, Akitek Tenggara, said: “We need to declare numerical targets and not just say increase energy efficiency by 10, 20 per cent or decrease consumption by 20 per cent. It’s important that the results should be audited and made public and transparent.”

Source : Today – 3 Oct 2008

Join The Discussion

Compare listings