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Next target: Building owners and tenants

Third Green masterplan aims to change their usage attitudes, practices

[SINGAPORE] Under the third Green Building Masterplan, Singapore will focus its efforts for the next five to 10 years on working with end-users of commercial buildings to improve energy efficiency, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said on Monday at the opening ceremony of the International Green Building Conference 2014.

Unlike the first two masterplans, launched in 2006 and 2009 respectively, where emphasis was on the greening of new and existing buildings, now, Singapore wants to move beyond building structures and hardware and work towards changing the behaviour and practices of building owners and tenants, to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.

Mr Khaw said that Singapore is "on track" to achieve its target of greening 80 per cent of its built-up area by 2030.

But the twin global challenges of climate change and intensified urbanisation are "complex issues without simple solutions" and "they require all of us in the global community to work together to find practical answers".

To incentivise end-users, in particular Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the Building & Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) will co-fund up to 50 per cent of the retrofitting cost for energy improvements, as part of the S$50 million Green Mark incentive scheme.

"BCA is incentivising the building owners and tenants who are SMEs as they have lesser resources to undertake energy efficiency improvements to their buildings and premises," said BCA's chief executive officer John Keung. "The grant will provide greater support to help the SMEs kick-start their journey in greening their operations."

For owners of larger-sized buildings to qualify for the incentive, they have to have at least 30 per cent of their tenants that are SMEs.

The newly-launched BCA Green Mark Pearl Award and the Green Mark Pearl Prestige Award also serve to recognise developers, building owners and landlords who are leaders in the green building initiative. These awards will be given out to commercial offices, retail malls, and business park developments.

To qualify, amongst other criteria, at least 50 per cent of the buildling's net lettable area must be occupied by tenants under the Green Mark Occupant-Centric Schemes for the Green Mark Pearl Award, and 70 per cent for the Green Mark Pearl Prestige Award.

Another initiative under the third masterplan includes the S$52-million fund for the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC), which will be set up to develop, test, monitor and showcase new green building solutions that are relevant to the tropics.

To further BCA's efforts to establish Singapore as a global leader for green buildings in the tropics and sub-tropics, MOUs were signed with three foreign partners at the opening ceremony to facilitate sharing of best practices and collaboration of green building initiatives.

The partners involved are Sri Lanka's Ceylon Institute of Builders, Tanzania's National Housing Corporation, and the Ikatan Nasional Konsultan Indonesia. Currently, 13 MOUs have already been signed with foreign parties.

In 2005, Singapore took the first step in its green building journey when the BCA Green Mark Scheme was launched, to rate the environmental sustainability of buildings in the tropics.

At the end of the first year, there were only 17 building projects in Singapore that had met the BCA Green Mark standards.

Today, the number of buildings has grown to more than 2,100, or, over a quarter of the country's total built-up area.