Singapore gets its first sustainability academy

The new building, built to the highest energy efficiency and green building standards, will serve as the prosperous city-state’s sustainability learning and collaboration hub.

SSA opening 1
Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Security accompanied by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, officially opened the Singapore Sustainability Academy on 5 June. Image: CDL

Singapore’s first sustainability academy opened its doors on Monday, World Environment Day, to provide the country’s business and public sectors with a venue for learning and collaboration on how to make sustainable development work. 

The Singapore Sustainability Academy, jointly created by local property developer City Developments Limited (CDL) and non-profit Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS), is the first major initiative that supports the country’s national and global sustainability goals outlined in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint and Climate Action Plan.

These initiatives align with Singapore’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, which it is party to, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to eradicate global poverty, hunger and lack of education by 2030. 

The net-zero emissions development sits on top of CDL’s City Square Mall in Singapore’s Farrer Park district.

Our goals for a healthy planet are demanding. But working together like this, I am absolutely confident we will achieve them. 

Erik Solheim, executive director, UN Environment Programme

A first of its kind in the country, timber materials used in the building’s walls, ceilings and floors are certified highly sustainable by Nature’s Barcode System, a compliance and verification system that tracks the origin and legality of timber products in its supply chain.

Timber materials used for the SSA building also feature high level of thermal performance, keeping the building cooler while limiting airconditioning costs. According to CDL, this promises to boost human productivity by up to 30 per cent.

The building also features smart energy consumption monitors and sensors to ensure it constantly operates at optimal energy efficient levels. The building’s glass panels also adapt lighting and airconditioning to outdoor weather conditions. 

As well as using sustainably sourced materials, the SSA building is powered purely by solar energy via 3,200 square feet of photovoltaic panels installed on its rooftop. These are estimated to generate 60,000 kWh per year, whereas the building is expected to consume only 50,000 kWh/year, so it is carbon negative.

United Nations Environment Programme executive director Erik Solheim commented: “I hope the Academy will inspire more cooperation with the private sector and more engagement with citizens. Our goals for a healthy planet are demanding. But working together like this, I am absolutely confident we will achieve them.”

CDL deputy chief executive officer Sherman Kwek said that he hoped the SSA would provide a venue not only for project development and financing clean energy technologies in Singapore and the region, but to harness the contribution of Singapore’s youth to sustainable development.

“SEAS as the voice of the sustainable energy industry in Singapore has been promoting sustainable technologies, project development as well as financing of clean energy projects locally and regionally. Our partnership with CDL for the SSA will provide a platform for not just the industry but also the youth and community to learn and collaborate on sustainable development, mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions and to fight and adapt to climate change and its effects,” said Edwin Khew, chairman of SEAS.

The opening of the SSA concludes an eight-month construction of the building, which commenced in October last year.

The opening coincided with the launch of a new movement called Women4Green.

Recognising the important role women hold in pushing towards a low carbon economy, resource efficiency and sustainability, the SSA hosted the first Singapore network for women in sustainability.

“The SSA and Women4Green initiatives will further advance CDL’s stakeholder engagement to achieve a greater impact in building a sustainable future,” CDL’s Kwek said.

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