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Greening of Buildings in Singapore.

29 December, 2011

 

 

Developers and Owners
 
Environmental sustainability is now a key criteria in the assessment of a building’s credentials. Due to the ongoing efforts of governmental agencies such as Building & Construction Authority (BCA) and National Environment Agency (NEA), more energy efficient and innovative buildings are being constructed in Singapore.
 
As part of BCA’s initiatives to drive sustainable construction, a S$15 million Sustainable Construction Capability Development Fund (SC Fund) has been set up from 15 April 2010 to develop capabilities of the industry in adopting sustainable construction methods and materials. The SC Fund will focus on developing capabilities in recycling of waste arising from the demolition of buildings and in the use of recycled materials for construction. This is intended to mitigate the impact to the environment through greater adoption of recycled materials and environmentally-friendly construction practices. The incentive scheme, which is run on a co-funding basis between BCA and the developer, trains its spotlight on key areas such as (i) sustainable construction practices or technologies, (ii) waste management or waste recovery and (iii) environmental-friendly products or materials.
 
Benchmarking is another important way of resource management which helps to improve efficiency, reduce costs and identify potential savings in buildings. The BCA Green Mark provides a meaningful differentiation of buildings in the real estate market. It is a benchmarking scheme which incorporates internationally recognised best practices in environmental design and performance. This can have positive effect on corporate image, leasing and resale value of buildings. Benefits of BCA Green Mark include (i) facilitating reduction in water and energy bills, (ii) reducing potential environmental impact, (iii) improving indoor environmental quality for a
healthy and productive workplace and (iv) providing clear direction for continual building improvement. The BCA assessment for certification will comprise design and documentary reviews as well as site verification. Upon completion of the assessment, a letter of award showing the certification level of the building project will be granted.
 
BCA has also enhanced the legislative framework and put in place the Building Control (Environmental Sustainability) Regulations, to require a minimum environmental sustainability standard that is equivalent to the Green Mark Certified Level for new buildings and existing ones that undergo major retrofitting. The Building Control (Environmental Sustainability) Regulations 2008 applies to (i) all new building works with gross floor area of 2000 sq metres or more; (ii) additions or extensions to existing buildings which involve increasing gross floor area of the existing buildings by 2000 sq metres or more; and (iii) building works which involve major retrofitting to existing buildings with existing gross floor area of 2000 sq metres or more. The minimum environmental sustainability standards have been revised with effect from 1 Dec 2010 in line with the Code for Environmental Sustainability in Buildings (2nd Edition).
 
Tenants and Occupiers
 
Tenants and occupants of green buildings stand to benefit from the building’s innovative features and better indoor environment quality while minimising energy consumption.
 
Such “Green leases” for most energy efficient buildings in Singapore will usually include a covenant for the tenant to meet the minimum sustainability standards stipulated by the Landlord or comply with the environmental rating standards. For instance, the tenant may be required to (i) ensure that all methods and procedures for fitting out, maintenance, repair and even material purchases are in compliance with laws or building policies; (ii) use proven energy and carbon reduction measures, including energy efficient bulbs in task lighting, use of lighting controls, closing shades as needed to avoid over heating the space and turning off lights and equipment at the end of the work day; (iii) comply with all recycling policies or building regulations on the collection, sorting, separation, and recycling of garbage, trash, rubbish and other refuse; and (iv) control energy usage on a W/sq metre basis.
 
The tenant may also be required to share in the cost of the sustainability practices for the building, such as the cost of installation of shared green facilities or the cost of seeking certification for the building. Therefore, with a cooperative approach in mind, specific rights, obligations, and environmental performance benchmarks must be expressly incorporated in a “Green lease” between the landlord and Tenant. This is in direct contrast to the traditional covenants which simply deal with the occupational rights and use of premises by a tenant.
 
Companies in the cleantech sector looking to locate to premises with synergies for the full value chain of the cleantech industry may look forward to CleanTech Park (CTP), Singapore’s first eco-business park for companies involved in clean technologies and sustainable urban solutions. The CTP also serves as a R&D and testbedding site for early adoption of clean tech products and solutions for the urban tropics. Besides clean tech companies, the CTP could also house companies providing eco-friendly products and services, and companies with strong CSR or green practices. The development of the CTP will take place in 3 phases over 20 years. Phase 1 will commence in July 2010 and will provide about 17 ha of business park land when completed in 2018. Phase 2 will be developed from 2019 to 2025, and Phase 3 from 2026 to 2030.
 
Some unique features of the CTP include using recycled and green materials for infrastructure development, demarcating conservation zones where trees and plants are conserved, inculcating green practices such as recycling and car pooling; and aligning building orientation to maximise wind-capture within the buildings.
 
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Sandra Seah, ATMD Bird & Bird
sandra.seah@twobirds.com
 
Tony Quek, ATMD Bird & Bird

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