New S$15m fund to aid sustainable construction

The Building and Construction Authority is setting up a S$15 million fund to promote sustainable construction.

The fund will focus on developing capabilities in recycling waste from the demolition of buildings and in using recycled materials for construction.

The construction industry has welcomed the latest initiative, but is hoping for more government support for their usage.

The opening of the Samwoh eco-green park demonstrates a growing focus in Singapore’s construction industry on sustainable development methods.

This is the first building in the country to be built using recycled concrete aggregate.

And Samwoh wants to raise its production of recycled materials for the construction industry.

However, it notes that this will be a long-term investment due to the low margins and the current slow take-up rate.

The government hopes that more companies can use recycled concrete and building materials to reduce Singapore’s reliance on imported raw materials.

Elvin Koh, managing director, Samwoh Corporation, said: “…we have invested about S$10 million (in this eco-park). If you are talking about returns, it might be a bit slow because it is new in the market.

“But we view this as a long term-business. It all depends on the government agencies and how fast they can accept this new concept .”

The eco-concept is also making other inroads.

The Land Transport Authority has rolled out changes to its road construction specifications to allow recycled materials to be used in building roads.

While supportive of these moves, industry players said it is too early to tell whether costs will be impacted.

However, they stressed that more government funding is needed for sustainable construction to take off in a big way.

Andrew Khng, president, Singapore Contractors Association, said: “I am hoping that the government will take the lead forward to push the industries by implementing in their contracts (that) a certain percentage of their contracts component should look at the green products; for the contractors, we need some kind of incentive to push us to go green on our own.”

Companies said a public-sector led push to adopt more eco-friendly practices could have a positive impact on their earnings.

Samwoh, for instance, gets 3 to 4 per cent of its revenues from the sale of recycled materials.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 22 Mar 2010

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