Jurisdiction - Singapore
Singapore – Green Building In The Urban Jungle.

1 September, 2014


Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Singapore –  Construction & Real Estate


In land scarce Singapore, 100% of the population live in the city. This means energy consumption increases steadily as the population grows and more people get connected to the power grid.

Singapore is forced to develop its buildings upwards and in doing so, races to make buildings more environmentally friendly. This is to ensure that the concept of environmental sustainability and energy efficiency is deeply rooted in Singapore’s plans for continuous development as “the city in a garden”.

Siemen’s “Asian Green City Index” which compares 22 major Asian cities across 8 categories: energy and CO2, land use and buildings, transport, waste, sanitation, air quality and environmental governance, ranks Singapore as Asia’s greenest metropolis. Singapore was also rated in Solidance’s study of “Asia-Pacific’s Top 10 Green Cities” as the leader in green sector growth and green building policies among other major Asia-Pacific cities such as Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, and Auckland. This is a testament that a well governed city with proper urban planning can achieve high living and energy security standards without high energy consumption or greenhouse gas emission levels. This achievement has seen Singapore’s Green Mark Labelling Scheme, a rating system for green building design and technologies being replicated in neighbouring developing countries in South East Asia.

With Singapore’s commercial and industrial buildings accounting formore than one-third of Singapore’s total energy consumption, opportunities are abound for massive energy savings by way of eco-friendly retrofitting and construction, zero energy developments and smart energy buildings. Over the years, a positive approach has emerged in the country that green-mindedness does not entail unnecessary costs.

This paved the way for enhancements in the Building Control Act and Building Control (Environmental Sustainability) Regulations in 2008 and 2013 to require all new buildings and existing ones undergoing retrofitting or installing cooling systems to achieve minimum Green Mark certification standards. The legislation is supplemented by codes of practice, in particular the 2012 Code for Environmental Sustainability for Buildings, which set out best practices to comply with environmental sustainability standards and benchmarks for buildings according to the Green Mark criteria and rating system. Building owners are also required to carry out 3 yearly energy audits on building cooling systems and compliance with design system efficiency, and submit building information and energy consumption data annually.

The success derived by observing these standards can be seen from W Hotel and Marina Bay Sands Hotel (MBS), as one of the latest recipients of the Building & Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum award recognised for their efforts in green building in Singapore. W Hotel invested 3.5% of its total construction cost into green features including thick external walls to reduce heat absorption and air-condition usage, and photovoltaic roof panels for renewable energy. These measures are estimated to help reduce an average SGD 1m off its annual operation costs. MBS implemented a fully-automated Building Management System and smart technology to regulate the amount of heating, lighting and water supply throughout the building. This has resulted in approximately 50% in energy reductions and an annual reduction of over 350m litres of potable water consumption.

The best practices adopted by these market leaders prove that the need for “instant gratification” through immediate cost savings is becoming a thing of the past as green buildings (which may cost more to construct) are viewed as bringing long term savings, with more attractive market evaluations and higher rental yields in Singapore. As premiums and costs of materials and technology for green buildings become more affordable in construction intensive Singapore, BCA should look into enhancing the overall criteria and scoring systems to encourage building owners to go for higher Green Mark certification levels. This will motivate the construction industry and property market to develop innovations and to find new ways to further reduce environmental impacts of built structures by improving energy and water efficiency, environmental protection and indoor air quality. As summarised by a leading developer in sustainable buildings in Asia, “If you don’t build green, you build obsolete.”


ATMD Bird & Bird


For further information, please contact:


Tony Quek, ATMD Bird & Bird

[email protected] 


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