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Green buildings make value propositions

Retrofitting commercial buildings can lead to an increase in their value.

Companies can not only expect average savings in operating expenses of 10 per cent, but commercial buildings can also potentially see an increase in capital value of about 2 per cent.

Specifically, it was found that retrofitting to achieve the standard BCA Green Mark certification can result in significant reduction in energy consumption; average savings from the 23 buildings (comprising office, retail, hotel, and mixed-used developments) sampled earlier this year after retrofitting was about 17 per cent of the total building’s energy consumption, compared to before retrofitting.

These were some of the key findings of a joint study conducted earlier this year, by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the department of real estate at the National University of Singapore, in collaboration with six real estate consultancy firms.

Singapore’s pursuit of greener buildings found its beginnings in the successful launch of the Green Mark rating system in 2005.

Launched by BCA, the scheme is an assessment system to rate buildings based on their environmental impact and performance. This initiative was quickly followed by the first Green Building Masterplan in 2006, and the second in 2009.

The second masterplan, which is broken down into six strategic thrusts, saw a number of key initiatives launched, including: new public sector buildings to achieve Green Mark Platinum rating, a gross floor area (GFA) incentive scheme awarding additional GFA to developers that earn higher-tier Green Mark awards for their new buildings and reconstruction projects, and a comprehensive training framework to train 18,000 green specialists.

According to figures from BCA, more than 840 projects have been awarded the Green Mark certification, of which gold and platinum ratings consist of 15 per cent of the total cohort.

The Green Mark endeavour has also found traction beyond Singapore’s shores. As of Nov 25, 133 overseas projects have been certified, or are seeking Green Mark certification, says BCA.

Specifically, 19 projects have received certification, 34 have undergone preliminary assessment, and 80 are undergoing assessment.

Further, the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint, which was unveiled by the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Sustainable Development in 2009, set the target to improve energy efficiency by 35 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030.

To meet this target, BCA aims for at least 80 per cent of all buildings in Singapore to be more resource-efficient, and be at least Green Mark certified, by 2030.

‘For the last six years or so we have got about 750 projects certified green under our Green Mark Scheme. We’re talking about 23 million square metres of floor space in total that is environmentally-friendly,’ says John Keung, chief executive at BCA.

Of this, City Development Limited (CDL) has contributed almost 10 per cent of the total volume of green building projects in Singapore, he adds.

In recognition of CDL’s efforts, the developer received the inaugural BCA Green Mark Platinum Champion Award earlier this year. Previously, CDL was the sole winner of the first-ever BCA Green Mark Champion Award, which was launched in 2008.

As an example of CDL’s green projects, the 521-unit H2O Residences, located in Sengkang New Town, was designed to integrate with the surrounding water bodies.

The development, which won the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award, was also awarded the ABC (Active, Beautiful, Clean) Waters certification from the Public Utilities Board.

Some of its green features, designed for energy efficiency, include a north-south building orientation to minimise external heat gain and achieve maximum daylight harvesting, external shading devices, and energy efficient light fittings and motion sensors. This is expected to help the development reduce overall energy cost (estimated at over $475,000 per year for whole development).

In addition, a rainwater harvesting system for landscape irrigation and water efficient sanitary fixtures and fittings is expected to achieve water savings of 35,181 cubic metres per year.

According to CDL, approximately 1.26 per cent of the total construction cost was invested into the development of the condominium’s green innovations, which is expected to result in energy savings of over 2,379,623 kWh per year and total water savings of 41,161.21 cubic metres per year.

CDL’s efforts in green buildings extends beyond the residential field. According to CDL, some $12 million in electricity was saved annually from its 27 BCA Green Mark awarded buildings between 2008 to 2010.

CDL has since set the bar even higher; the company’s ‘green’ standard is now a minimum BCA Green Mark GoldPlus for all new developments, compared to its 2010 target of attaining at least a Green Mark Gold rating.

‘Although the green economy is still at its infancy and demand for green buildings is only just starting to grow, we hope that our position as a pioneering green developer will give us a first-mover advantage when the age of socially responsible consumerism dawns,’ says Kwek Leng Joo, managing director, City Developments Limited. ‘In the leasing market, there is a growing demand especially from MNCs (multi-national corporations) who are increasingly considering green buildings as a criterion when sourcing for office space.’

Looking ahead, CDL will continue to step up its strategic approach towards sustainability, with technology and innovative design remaining key in resource conservation and enhancing resource efficiency, Mr Kwek added.

‘Efficiency gains in buildings are likely to provide the greatest energy reductions and in many cases will be the most economical option,’ he said.

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