SINGAPORE - Firms that design green offices and encourage their employees to quit smoking, exercise more and eat healthily will be recognised under a new government scheme.
Called the Green Mark for Healthier Workplaces, the scheme is an expansion of an eponymous benchmarking programme that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) currently has to acknowledge energy-saving buildings.
The regulator is working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) on this latest addition.
The scheme was announced by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, on Friday (Sept 7) at an industry event that more than 300 business leaders attended.
Mr Zaqy said that office designs, such as ventilation and lighting systems, have an impact on energy use and their occupants' health and well-being.
So "it makes sense to dovetail the two objectives, to create environmentally friendly and healthy office spaces... This was the impetus behind this new scheme", he added.
Ten companies took part in the four-month pilot programme that started in May (2018), and six were certified last month.
The rest are working on their certification, according to a BCA statement.
Facility Link, a firm which builds offices, hosts health screenings and workout sessions such as zumba classes for its 140 employees. On Fridays, employees who smoke are encouraged not to light up.
The firm also recycles leftover materials from its renovation processes to use as furniture and decor.
Both the BCA and the HPB have incentive schemes to help more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) follow Facility Link's example, said Mr Zaqy.
For example, the BCA will co-fund SMEs up to $40,000 for the firms to be certified under this new scheme, as part of its current Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings and Premises.
Similarly, the HPB has the SME Health+ and Workplace Alliance for Health schemes.
At the same event, Mr Zaqy also revealed results of a two-year pilot programme that aims to get building occupants to save energy.
Currently, six organisations are participating in the pilot that started in September last year (2017). "Several have already achieved significant energy savings," Mr Zaqy said.
For example, Swissotel Merchant Court in Clarke Quay saved more than 100 MW-hours after adopting energy-saving measures.
Now, the laundry department operates machines at full load, instead of half load as it used to. Employees have also been encouraged to use the stairs.
Mr Zaqy said that the BCA will work with the Singapore Green Building Council to develop standardised toolkits for firms which want similar results.
He added: "We wish to see more following in their paths, and will do our part to support."