The construction industry has garnered ill repute for being one of the main contributors to the climate emergency globally – despite its role in driving the economy. While this can also be said for Singapore’s construction sector, the government has been steadily taking steps to correct this.
These efforts can be attributed our nation’s status as a clean and green city. While this moniker is well-known locally, tourists and foreign visitors often call it a “garden city” as well. In actuality, Singapore goes above and beyond to maintain its sterling reputation in Asia regarding sustainability and eco-consciousness – well beyond just planting trees.
Aiming to green 80% of the city’s structures by the end of the current decade, the government recently unveiled its audacious Singapore Green Plan 2030. In addition to the streets lined with trees and parks, even the highly populated skyscrapers and apartment complexes play a more prominent role in creating an environmentally friendly urban environment.
Recycled building materials, optimised energy consumption in public housing, and sustainable building tools are just a few examples of how a formerly dreary cityscape is being transformed towards becoming green.
1. Sustainable building technology
In 2007, a fund worth SGD 50 million was set up, which sought to support the advancement of sustainable building practices and construction technology research and development.
In 2010, a new fund was introduced. The goal of the SGD 15 million Sustainable Construction Capability Development Fund was to increase the industry’s capacity to implement new construction methods and technology.
Several areas are supported by the second fund, including assisting businesses when modernising their building technologies to align more closely with sustainable standards. Additionally, it was used to aid businesses in obtaining accreditation or certification. The fund was also employed for trial projects to advance the sector’s expertise.
Despite Singapore’s current achievements, the BCA still strives to increase demand for sustainable construction. In order to spread knowledge and recognition of said achievements in sustainable construction thus far, conferences and exhibitions are held. This has worked to establish Singapore as one of Asia’s greenest cities. It is also an excellent platform for raising awareness and increasing demand for sustainable building practices among younger Singaporeans.
2. Efficiency in Housing
Residential estates are important components of Singapore’s green infrastructure plan, with more than one million residences in the city-state.
The UrbanWater Harvesting System, a rainwater collecting and distribution system, is being tested in two municipalities by HDB (Housing Development Board). It collects rainwater for tasks like cleaning public spaces and watering plants, conserving the yearly equivalent of about 85 average-sized households’ worth of drinking water.
The HDB is also converting the upper floors of parking garages into parks, urban farms, and neighbourhood gardens. The Housing Development Board’s Smart Hub data platform incorporates real-time data about HDB estates, including energy use, people traffic, and lift usage, in a move that parallels the ODP. By, for example, lowering the brightness of lights in common spaces whenever motion sensors don’t detect human movement, the data helps estates optimise energy consumption.
The building of smart cities requires an integrated platform that enables engineers to ensure that different components of the system, like solar panels and intelligent garbage collection systems, perform well together.
As part of a program known as the Green Towns Programme, the HDB is working to make neighbourhoods more sustainable and habitable by 2030.
3. Recyclable construction materials
A significant area of sustainable construction growth is demolition. Waste management is essential to maximise the number of materials that can be recycled or reused. Buildings will be torn down gradually wherever possible to provide for the secure reclamation of materials. After that, the materials could be utilised in other projects.
Naturally, this necessitates a quality control check to ensure that recycled materials may be used again in the building. People who recycle construction and demolition waste can apply for accreditation to demonstrate the calibre of their products.
A vital facet of the push for sustainable construction is designating other reusable components. Half of the non-structural building uses can be fulfilled by recycled concrete aggregates (RCA), and 20% of them can be used to replace coarse materials in structures. Furthermore, cleaned copper slag can substitute 10% of the typical material used in the structural application in fine aggregates, and at least half of the fine aggregates used in structures can be replaced. Even industrial waste and dredged materials can be turned into synthetic sand.
The Green Mark Scheme, along with the appropriate norms and standards, influences design in a way that promotes sustainability.
Experts say that if every step of the Green Plan 2030 is carried out, our yearly energy consumption will be reduced by more than 8 million megawatt hours, enough to power practically every household for an entire year. By 2030, residential greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by a minimum of 3 million tonnes annually.
As such, Singapore’s efforts to optimise the construction industry’s sustainability through technology is well on the way to yield the desired results. JustGo is also dedicated to the cause, facilitating connections within the industry in order to further an agenda of environmental conscientiousness.