With Singapore’s buildings accounting for over 20% of its carbon emissions, data from Schneider Electric and the Singapore Green Building Council’s latest report shows drastic action is needed to accelerate the greening of the urban environment in line with the country’s Paris Agreement commitments.
Studies from around the world show that the average person spends around 90% of their day indoors. With so much time spent on the inside of building spaces, creating the cleanest and greenest built environments possible is vital for fostering healthy communities.
When also considering projections by the United Nations that the global population could increase by over 20% to 9.7 billion people and that 68% of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050, the case for greening our built environment becomes even stronger as the quality of life and livelihoods will very much be shaped by people’s living environments.
Today in Singapore, at least 49% of buildings are considered green. The “80-80-80 in 2030” goals set out in the Singapore Green Building Masterplan (SGBMP) which comes under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, targets for 80% of Singapore’s buildings (by gross floor area) to be green by 2030; for 80% of new developments to be Super Low Energy from 2030; and for an 80% improvement in energy efficiency for best-in-class buildings based off 2005 levels by 2030.
Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, and the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) launched on April 13, 2023 a joint report highlighting the critical challenges that need to be tackled as well as key recommendations to accelerate green building adoption in Singapore.
The report titled “Going Green from the Inside Out: Accelerating Green Building Adoption in Singapore”, presents and analyses the findings of a survey by Schneider Electric involving 500 business leaders across MNCs and SMEs in Singapore, as well as findings from a qualitative study conducted with members of the SGBC on the level of awareness, preparedness, understanding and views of business leaders on green buildings in Singapore. Field work was conducted between October 2022 and February 2023. Some of the key takeaways of the report are:
Most business leaders in Singapore have a general understanding of green buildings only
The report unveils that most business leaders (51%) in Singapore have a general understanding of green buildings, while only four in 10 (38%) have a comprehensive understanding. These findings highlight the crucial need for more business leaders to develop a deeper knowledge of green buildings so as to spur greater adoption and progress.
Low awareness may be holding back adoption, but momentum is expected to pick up
In line with the lack of understanding of green buildings, low awareness over its benefits may be holding back greater adoption of green buildings, as only 12% of respondents indicate that all their operations already utilize green buildings. Nevertheless, adoption of green buildings is expected to gain momentum, as over half (52%) say their organization plans to increase investment in using green buildings in the next one to two years.
Sustainability goals and energy efficiency are the top drivers for adoption
In terms of the drivers for adoption, the report finds that “sustainability and ESG considerations” (41%), as well as “energy efficiency” (40%) are the top two factors for organizations looking to increase the use of green buildings.
“Cost and ROI” seen as the biggest barrier to increasing access to green buildings
As for barriers, 61% of survey respondents indicate that “cost and return on investment (ROI)” is the biggest barrier when looking to increase the use of green buildings in the next one to two years. This highlights the opportunity to convince more organizations to tap on the various support schemes available and reap its benefits.
Most business leaders are highly supportive of Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 targets
Business leaders are generally still highly supportive of Singapore’s green building targets, with 95% agreeing that 80% of Singapore’s buildings should be ‘green’ by 2030, and 98% agreeing that 80% of Singapore’s buildings should be ‘Super Low Energy’ from 2030. Of those who indicated support for the latter goal, 56% believe the target should be lower.
In light of these findings, Schneider Electric and SGBC have listed five recommendations in the report to accelerate the adoption of green buildings in Singapore:
- Stakeholders, particularly developers and landlords, can take the lead to advance the green agenda: Within the private sector, developers and building owners especially play a critical role in ensuring that green features are accounted for from the onset in upcoming developments or by retrofitting existing buildings.
- Promote greater awareness to leverage technology and tap on support schemes: To enable scalability of green buildings, upfront costs and doubts over subsequent potential cost savings reaped from green solutions must be tackled.
- Grow pool and pipeline of green building professionals: Institutes of higher learning can work closely with the industry to groom the next generation of green building professionals.
- Enabling greater access to green finance: Green financing must become more mainstream and accelerated to drive sustainable financing for the sector.
- Forging impactful partnerships and co-innovating solutions: Stakeholders’ strengths can be leveraged to co-develop new innovative solutions and industry best practices.
“As we approach key national sustainability milestones, it is imperative that we continue accelerating efforts to reduce emissions and advance towards a net-zero future,” says Lee Ang Seng, President of the SGBC. “While it is heartening to see companies taking action, more can be done to improve the awareness and update of green building solutions towards a low-carbon future. We are heartened to work with SGBC Founding Member Schneider Electric on this meaningful report which will definitely help the industry to identify common challenges, outline actionable steps, and leverage collective effort to decarbonize the built environment.”
“With Singapore’s buildings accounting for over 20% of national carbon emissions, the case for greening its infrastructure has never been greater, and developers, building owners and business leaders play a critical role in helping to drive this agenda on sustainable development” says Yoon Young Kim, Cluster President, Schneider Electric Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei.
“At Schneider Electric, we are deeply committed to this cause, and are constantly growing our capacity to help partners strategize, digitize and decarbonize. We are confident that by taking this first step towards understanding the opportunities and challenges of going green, we can better help companies navigate this complex but critical task and sustain stronger results in their decarbonization journeys.”
Ed. Photo by Sergio Sala on Unsplash.