SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE SINGAPORE GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL GALA DINNER 2022, HELD AT THE GRAND BALLROOM, ORCHARD HOTEL SINGAPORE ON 20 MAY 2022
Ar. Tang Kok Thye, President, Singapore Green Building Council
Er. Lee Chuan Seng, Honorary Advisor, Singapore Green Building Council, Chairman, NEA
Mr Kelvin Wong, CEO, Building and Construction Authority
Ladies and gentlemen
1 Good evening everyone. It is my pleasure to join you today.
2 This year marks the Singapore Green Building Council’s (SGBC) 13th year in promoting environmental sustainability in the built environment sector. Congratulations on your 13th anniversary! SGBC has done well over the years to galvanise industry action, rally community support and raise awareness of green building design and practices. I am confident that the Council will continue to take our built environment industry to greener and greater heights.
3 I am also glad that the SGBC-BCA Leadership in Sustainability Awards are back after a one-year hiatus. Today, we are recognising 20 deserving winners across the professional, organisation and building project award categories, who have made significant contributions in the development of a green and sustainable built environment. My heartiest congratulations to all of you, and I look forward to meeting you later.
Harsh Reality of Climate Change
4 Now, more than ever, we need leaders and change makers in sustainability to push the boundaries as we transition towards a low-carbon future. Day by day, the reality of climate change and its harsh impacts are becoming more pronounced. We are seeing more extreme weather events across the world and also experiencing record temperatures and rainfall in Singapore.
5 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has laid out the science for us - human-induced warming has already warmed the world by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. To limit the impact of climate change, we must keep the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.
6 Earlier this year, Singapore announced that we will raise our ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. This may seem like a while away, but immediate mitigation and adaption actions must be taken over the next two decades to realise this target. Our efforts must be coordinated and we need all hands on deck.
Built Environment plays a key role toward net-zero
7 The built environment sector plays an important role in Singapore’s overall net-zero strategy. With Singapore being a dense urban centre and business hub, our buildings account for over 20 per cent of our carbon emissions, and consume more than a third of our nation’s electricity. This means that efforts to reduce a building’s carbon emissions can go a long way in supporting Singapore’s drive towards net-zero.
8 The Singapore Green Building Masterplan is an integral part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. The plan has three ambitious targets which set out the pathway towards a low-carbon built environment. Our targets are to get to 80-80-80 in 2030. What does this mean?
i. First, we aim to green 80 per cent of our buildings by Gross Floor Area by 2030. To date, 49 per cent of our buildings have been greened. We are on our way to meeting this target, but need to continue our efforts in the years ahead.
ii. We are also pushing for building owners to aim for best-in-class buildings, or Super Low Energy (SLE) Buildings. Hence, the second target is for 80 per cent of new buildings to be SLE buildings from 2030.
iii. The third target is for our best-in-class green buildings, which have currently achieved about a 65 to 70 per cent improvement in energy efficiency compared to 2005 levels, to see further improvement to achieve 80 per cent by 2030.
9 The Government is doing our part. To reduce emissions from the Government sector, we launched GreenGov.SG last year with new, ambitious targets. Under the initiative, we aim to peak our carbon emissions around 2025. By 2030, we aim to reduce our energy and water use by 10 per cent from the average of 2018 to 2020 levels, and reduce the amount of waste disposed of by 30 per cent from 2022 levels. Under this initiative, we will take the lead in bringing Super Low Energy buildings into the mainstream. We will require all new public sector buildings and existing ones undergoing major retrofitting to be Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy buildings.
10 The built environment sector is key to Singapore’s pursuit of a circular economy. We recycle almost 100 per cent of our construction and demolition waste. This is possible because of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA)’s Demolition Protocol, which requires reusable parts of the building to be identified and sent for recycling. We are looking into transforming Incineration Bottom Ash into NEWSand, a type of construction material which may potentially be used in roads and as non-structural concrete. These efforts could eventually be scaled up to create a continuous and sustainable source of construction material for use in the built environment, while at the same time prolonging the lifespan of Singapore’s only landfill, Semakau Landfill.
11 We are also looking to property owners to enable recycling of wastes. For example, we will require operators of industrial and commercial buildings that generate large amounts of food waste to segregate their food waste for treatment. This will convert food waste into energy, or higher value products such as compost or non-potable water.
Support for Industry in the green transition
12 We will need the support and participation of the industry to make the transition. Your efforts to reduce emissions will not only benefit Singapore’s drive to reduce our carbon emissions, it also makes economic sense. Investing in a best-in-class energy performance building will provide benefits in the form of cost savings over time, particularly as the carbon tax will be raised from 2024 to send a clear price signal and encourage investments in emission reduction. For instance, while it costs 1 to 5 per cent more upfront to design and build a Green Mark Platinum building, energy savings over the next two to six years will allow you to pay off the upfront investment, and you can continue to benefit from energy savings for the rest of the building’s life cycle.
13 To support the industry, BCA has several schemes to accelerate the transformation towards a more resilient and future-ready Built Environment sector. These include the Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0, the Built Environment Transformation Gross Floor Area Incentive Scheme, and the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster Programme 2.0. SMU Connexion is one such project which tapped on the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster-Demonstration funding scheme for several innovative technologies to achieve Net Zero Energy.
14 The National Environment Agency (NEA) has an Energy Efficiency Fund to defray the costs of purchasing energy efficient technologies or conducting an energy assessment. Technology in the built environment, ranging from climatic control materials, energy, water and waste management to air quality control, is developing quickly. I encourage the private sector, the research community, the public sector and the user as a stakeholder group work closely to hasten the move towards sustainability. I am also happy to learn of the new Alliance for Action on Sustainable Spaces set up last year by SGBC, Singapore Business Federation and Singapore Furniture Industries Council, with the support of BCA and NEA, to bring together stakeholders across sectors to create and enhance sustainable spaces.
Recognising Efforts by the Built Environment Sector
15 I am heartened to see that many of you are already driving sustainability in your sector. Many of our iconic buildings and associated infrastructure are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in increasingly efficient and sustainable ways. For example, more buildings are utilising smart technology to improve efficiency and keep energy consumption low.
16 We are also seeing more net-zero buildings all over our island, from academic institutions, such as the Frontier building at NUS, to high rise commercial buildings, such as the Keppel Bay Tower.
17 In particular, I note that the winners of the Professional Leadership in Sustainability award category have done excellent work. Many have been involved in distinctive buildings dotting the Singapore cityscape or have developed solutions that go towards elevating building sustainability. The Building Project Winners are equally impressive with their efforts, from carbon mitigation to urban renewal.
18 I am also happy to note that a number of the winners under the Business Leadership in Sustainability category this year are local firms and homegrown companies. This is a clear testament to the high standard and quality of local green building design.
19 Congratulations again to all award winners. Thank you for embracing sustainability in your organisations and buildings. The actions we take today will be vital in our journey towards net zero emissions and building a Singapore that our future generations will be proud of. I hope your achievements will inspire others in the built environment sector to step up and likewise push the boundaries on sustainable building design.
20 Thank you, and I wish everyone a pleasant dinner ahead.