How can going green transform the building industry?

Going green has been given greater impetus if the latest developments concerning Singapore’s construction industry are an indication.

The first salvo came earlier this month when BG (NS) Tan Chuan Jin, Minister of State, (National Development & Manpower), said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has been tasked to bring forth a number of initiatives and incentive schemes for firms to tap the “green wagon” as part of the bold steps to reshape the construction industry and enhance its overall image.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) also unveiled a slate of new schemes to encourage more building owners to slash energy usage and carbon emissions. All these are in preparation for the impending Energy Conservation Act, which applies to businesses using more than 15 gigawatt hours of power a year.

Even smaller users of energy now are spurred to do their own energy audits as a prudent exercise should the Act be later tightened to cover them as well.

So, with all these developments and the wealth of “goodies” offered – and not forgetting the mounting energy costs -- going green should not be a complex, difficult decision for business owners to make.

Indeed, signs are pointing to more and more building owners taking the green route to success.

In a short span of just six years since BCA launched the Green Mark Scheme in 2005, the number of Green Mark building projects has snowballed from a mere 17 in its inaugural year to 948 as of Nov 2011. This clearly underlines the logic and business sense of owning green buildings.

BCA has set the bold target of greening 80% of existing buildings by 2030. With hundreds and thousands of buildings looking to become green, there is an urgent need to ensure that every building component and material that goes into them is truly green.

With more commitment from Asian governments, the green revolution in the building industry has made notable strides. Demand for green buildings is on the rise throughout China, India and South East Asia.

Singapore’s SMEs too can enjoy a very special advantage by not just riding the crest of Singapore’s established brand name but also getting the real leverage offered by various government and dedicated non-government agencies.

Transforming the building industry cannot, and will not take place overnight. We need to persist and continue to do more. We have to rethink existing paradigms to improve ourselves and win over new green entrants to the industry.

Towards this end, I urge our industry partners to join us in this exciting journey to invest and re-invent the industry’s future. This will make our world a more sustainable and ultimately better place to live in.

Tai Lee Siang, President, Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC)

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