Conserving the Present for a Sustainable Future

The world has long been marked by much global unpredictability and challenges on different facets. Just last year, while some key markets appear to be on the mend economically, other financial storms emerged. Politically, there were delicate and contentious issues world governments had to address. Environmentally, countries had to battle with unprecedented extreme weather conditions.



An unpredictable global paradigm

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, leaving a massive trail of destruction and death. In Singapore, the haze enveloped the city, affecting individuals, businesses and its tourism industry. And just earlier this year, snowstorms hit the US, while Britain was affected by massive flooding, rain and snow.
Through these destructive weather phenomena, lives were lost, communities destroyed, livelihoods put in jeopardy and prices of essential commodities sent skyrocketing. Even in the absence of a global deal on climate change, it is evident that this topic remains an urgent issue on many world leaders’ agendas.
According to a scientific report commissioned by the World Bank and released on Jun 2013, communities around the world are already feeling the impact of climate change today, with the planet only 0.8°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. Many of us could experience the harsher impacts of a 2°C warmer world within our lifetimes—20 to 30 years from now—and a 4°C rise in temperature is likely by the end of the century without global action.

Driving change globally and in Singapore

Globally, several sectors such as those in the Energy, Utilities and Materials contribute significantly to carbon emissions. The Building sector is also a major contributor. It accounts for approximately 40% of total energy use and about 30% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
In Singapore, the building sector is the third largest contributor of CO2, accounting for 30% of energy consumption. There is a real need for the building industry to undertake greater environmental responsibility and mitigate the impact of its activities on the environment. On the upside, more corporations have started to take climate change seriously. In the Global 500 Climate Change Report for 2013 by the Carbon Disclosure Project, the minimum score for entering the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index has risen to 97% (up from 94% in 2012 and 90% in 2011). The number of performance leaders demonstrating a strong approach to climate strategy and emissions reduction in their CDP responses has increased since 2012.
This highlights how seriously corporations treat their carbon reporting and that this reporting increasingly translates into action. In 2011, the Singapore Government announced a target under its new energy efficiency scheme—for at least 80% of the buildings in Singapore to achieve the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Certified rating by the year 2030.
BCA, a government body that champions the development of an excellent built environment for Singapore, launched the BCA Green Mark Scheme in Jan 2005. This rating system promotes the adoption of green building design and technologies that improve energy efficiency and reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. Under the scheme, buildings are assessed on energy and water efficiency, site/project development and management, indoor environment quality and environmental protection, and innovation. Buildings are awarded a Platinum, GoldPlus, Gold or Certified rating, depending on points scored. In Apr 2008, the Scheme became mandatory for all new buildings while existing ones had to undergo major retrofitting to meet the minimum Green Mark certification standards. While incentives and government policies to help developers build and manage greener properties is one way to drive sustainability and conservation, corporations are increasingly making it their own responsibility to ensure that their business practices and operations are sustainable.

Singapore’s Green Buildings


My Tree House - World’s First Green Library for Kids Basement, Central Public Library. 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064 Opening Hours: Mon–Sun; 10am–9pm
Conceptualised and built in collaboration with NLB, My Tree House—World’s First Green Library for Kids, is the first library in the world to be steered by green principles in all facets, from design, infrastructure and use of sustainable materials to collection and programming. Eco-friendly building materials such as energy-efficient LED lighting, refurbished bookshelves and carpets with green properties were used. The canopy of the tree house centrepiece is built with more than 3,000 recycled plastic bottles collected from the public, schools and visitors to City Square Mall. 
Opened on 31 May 2013, My Tree House was designed as an enchanting and magical green space to encourage children to read and learn about the environment in a fun and interactive way. It has a collection of 45,000 books, including a wide variety of green-themed ones.
CDL Green Gallery@SBG Heritage Museum Singapore’s First Zero-Energy Green Gallery
Singapore Botanic Gardens 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569 Opening Hours: Mon–Sun; 9am–6pm (closed last Tue of the month)
Developed as an extension of the SBG Heritage Museum and housed next to the Gallery, it currently features interactive exhibits where visitors can learn more about the rich history of the 154-yearold Gardens and Singapore’s greening journey over the past five decades. Together, these two new amenities will help to jointly support SBG’s nomination bid as Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
Two eco-innovative features—Hempcrete (a bio-material made from hemp plant) and the use of a  refabricated modular system—have been introduced in Singapore for the first time. Hempcrete, used for the external wall cladding, is a high thermal material ideal for Singapore’s humid climate as it creates good indoor air quality. It is also highly durable and is pest-, mould-, mildew- and fire-resistant. The prefabricated modular system is a unitised form of building with steel components prefabricated and assembled in an off-site production facility, then hoisted by a crane into position onsite.
Like building blocks, they are pieced together onsite to form the entire structure. It is easy to build, flexible and takes less than 24 hours to install. In addition, the Gallery’s solar photovoltaic (PV) cladded roof panels generate an annual energy yield of more than 31,000 kWh, making the Gallery self-sufficient for energy. Both these projects received BCA’s Green Mark Platinum status, the highest tier green building rating in Singapore. 

A green future for all

With growing global concerns about the impact of climate change and dwindling natural resources against fast expanding populations, the mindset of governments, business and consumers are changing, and the emergence of a more ecoconscious future looks hopeful. In 2009, the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint was released, containing strategies and initiatives that were needed for Singapore to achieve both economic growth and a good living environment over the next two decades. Coupled with the government’s push in construction productivity, green innovations will be one of its key drivers to help support the city’s push towards a more sustainable economy and future.