The future is definitely bright for green buildings in Singapore. With government intervention in the form of the BCA Green Mark already in place, the incidence of green buildings and building sustainability technology will definitely increase in Singapore and around the world. However is the BCA’s target for 80% of buildings to be Green Mark certified by 2030 actually realistically achievable?
As I have examined in my previous posts, there are many areas in which we can improve upon. Firstly, education and public awareness of green buildings and green building technology has to improve. Without public awareness of such technology and its benefits in the long run, the number of green buildings in Singapore will never increase. Also there will be no constant upgrading of buildings. For example, after an owner of a Green Mark certified building becomes aware of the long-term benefits of green buildings, he may seek to actively upgrade to be Green Mark Platinum certified instead. Public awareness and education can be improved by increased media coverage, education in schools or by improving public displays, such as the one in JCube mentioned in a previous post.
Secondly, the mind-sets of Singaporeans have to change. As explained in the Ted Talk by Lindsay Kindrak in my previous post, there are many aspect of psychology that can be improved upon. However, the most important in my opinion is to focus on long-term gains rather than the short-term benefits. This again relates back to increased public education and education in schools so that these aspects can be improved. Again the government would be the key stakeholder to improve this.
Thirdly, there has to be increased economic stimulation in this field. Be it for usage in research and development, or the actual subsidy for green technology in buildings, there has to be sufficient funding to ensure that the private sector will comply with the goal of the BCA. This is where the $52million grant that was announced during Green Building Week is crucial. This can be used directly to subsidise building owners and tenants as well as on R&D to reduce initial costs and efficiency, which is one of the biggest barriers for many green building initiatives.
Lastly, there is a need to target residential areas and especially government built HDBs, as I earlier pointed out in a previous post. The criteria for residential buildings have to include private areas, not just limited to public areas such as common corridors and lift lobbies. This will ensure the sustainability of the whole building and only this will have a significant impact on the environment. This again goes back to public awareness and education so that every citizen will incorporate green technology into their homes. This can be as simple as energy efficient appliances, or more complex systems to reduce energy or water wastage.
At the end of the day, there are many different motivating factors for stakeholders to improve building sustainability. With global climate change upon us, we need to make concerted efforts not just limited to using public transport instead of driving, or turning off the tap while brushing my teeth. We can start from the most obvious environment that we have in this bustling city, the built environment and make changes to it so as to better connect to the external and larger environment that we live in today. It is never too late to make a difference to the building sustainability movement and every little bit counts as we seek to preserve this planet for our future generations to enjoy.