Double the funds for buildings to go green

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is a Green Mark Platinum building - the highest rating for buildings in Singapore. Green Mark-certified buildings keep occupants healthier than those that are not, a recent study showed.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is a Green Mark Platinum building - the highest rating for buildings in Singapore. Green Mark-certified buildings keep occupants healthier than those that are not, a recent study showed.ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

BCA to offer up to $40k co-funding to help more tenants retrofit workplaces

An incentive scheme to encourage building tenants to be more environmentally friendly will offer up to double the funds it currently gives to tenants to go green.

The Building and Construction Authority's 2014 BCA Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings and Premises will, from Sept 30, provide building tenants with co-funding of up to $40,000 to retrofit their workplaces to be greener. This is an increase from the current $20,000.

With the funding and BCA's help, tenants that are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will also be able to purchase an expanded list of energy-efficient equipment, such as refrigerators and air-conditioners with at least three ticks under the National Environment Agency's Mandatory Energy Labelling scheme.

These initiatives were announced yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor at the BCA Breakfast Talk for CEOs at Marina Bay Sands.

Since 2014, four building tenants have applied for the Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings and Premises with up to $20,000 of co-funding from BCA. BCA chief executive Hugh Lim said it doubled the cap to allow more tenants to take advantage of the scheme.

Today, BCA will also open up 50 free slots under a new pilot initiative to help eligible SMEs judge how green they are against its Green Mark criteria. Called the Green Mark User-Centric Feasibility Assessments initiative, it will involve interns attached to BCA going to assess eligible companies, under the supervision of its officers.

Mr Lim said making buildings green would benefit tenants and owners in terms of lower energy costs. A recent study by BCA and the National University of Singapore also showed that Green Mark- certified buildings keep occupants healthier than those that are not.

Dr Khor also announced yesterday a behavioural change programme that aims to encourage building users to integrate sustainability into their lives. A partnership between BCA and the Singapore Green Building Council, the programme will involve 10 organisations over two years.

Campaign leaders from each organisation will design programmes to encourage green attitudes and actions in their building users. The National University Health System (NUHS) is the first participant and will start the programme next week.

Mr Chris Large from the non-profit Global Action Plan will serve as the consultant for the programme. He said hospitals can incorporate changes such as making sure staff turn off the room lights in the mornings and draw the curtains to let sunlight in.

Mr Ng Kian Swan, chief operating officer of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital, which come under NUHS, said: "We do not need a big movement to get our colleagues to go green and be environmentally friendly. We just need to have the passion and conviction to champion the cause."

Dr Khor said there is also a need to get building occupants to change their behaviour. "Greening a building is only half the battle," she said. "More can be done to reduce the buildings' overall carbon footprint by placing a greater focus on encouraging the eventual users... to adopt good habits to reduce their daily energy use."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Double the funds for buildings to go green'. Print Edition | Subscribe