New council set up to speed up devt of green buildings in S’pore

Singapore has set up a new council to help accelerate the “greening” of buildings in Singapore.

Buildings in the city-state are the second largest guzzlers of electricity – after the industrial sector. But this is also the area where energy use can be easily reduced.

A UN study has concluded that energy consumption in new and old buildings can be lowered by 30 to 50 per cent without significantly increasing investment costs.

Trane, an exhibiting company that cools about half of the buildings fronting Orchard Road said an average investment of S$2 million to reduce energy use in buildings is usually recouped within eight months to three years.

Speaking at the inaugural International Green Building Conference on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said: “This is not rocket science but it does require steady and consistent policies and effort.

“We plan to ‘green’ 80 per cent of our buildings by 2030 to reduce energy intensity by more than 30 per cent. Government and public buildings will also have to achieve higher green building standards.”

For now, the new Singapore Green Building Council will lead and coordinate the efforts of the industry, hand-in-hand with the government, to speed up the development of green buildings in Singapore.

For a start, it plans to set up a system for certification within the next six to 12 months.

Lee Chuan Seng, president, Singapore Green Building Council, said: “One of the things that hold back the development of green buildings in Singapore is that we don’t (have certification) – we have some green labelling system for products but it is not comprehensive now, so what we are trying to do now is start up some product directory. That product listing will then move into certification.”

The industry has already raised 10 times the S$100,000 seed funding it received from the government to get on with its work. Still, the council feels it has its work cut out.

Mr Lee said: “(This involves) getting the owners and end users of existing buildings to take it up early enough. Everyone says it is a tough job, and it is because in buildings, you upgrade the building and change the equipment only once in 15-20 years.”

In the long term, the council also hopes to work with authorities to develop Singapore as a hub for green buildings in the tropics, as most of the designs today have been developed for temperate climates.

Mr Teo said: “In the longer term, we plan to establish a Centre of Excellence in sustainable buildings and construction in Singapore – a regional hub to share experiences in green buildings in the tropics.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 28 Oct 2009

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