Singapore one of 18 nations to sign building emissions pact

Mr Ang Kian Seng signs the pact for Singapore.
Mr Ang Kian Seng signs the pact for Singapore.PHOTO: DAVID FOGARTY

PARIS - In Paris, 18 countries and more than 60 organisations announced a pact on Thursday to speed up efforts to cut emissions in the buildings and construction sector.

The sector generates nearly a third of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions and steps such as installing more energy-efficient lighting, better window insulation and smarter air-conditioning controls can cut back on emissions.

Singapore is among the nations that signed up to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Other members include Indonesia, the United States, Germany, Japan and Sweden.

The Alliance also includes cities, NGOs, companies, financing institutions and industry bodies, such as the International Union of Architects, which represents about 1.3 million architects worldwide, and the World Green Building Council, which represents 27,000 companies involved in the green buildings business worldwide.


Buildings and cities are regarded as crucial areas to cut emissions as urban areas grow, particularly in Asia.
For example, the buildings and construction sector has the potential to avoid about 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 using current technologies, a statement accompanying the launch on the sidelines of climate talks in Paris said. 

Reducing the energy used by buildings was one of the most cost-effective strategies for cutting large amounts of greenhouse gases, it added.

The main idea of the alliance is a collaborate exchange of expertise, said Mr Ang Kian Seng, group director, technology development group, at Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority, who was one of the signatories to the alliance on Thursday.

“We bring to the table our expertise in the tropics,” he told The Straits Times after the launch. “We have been doing green buildings for the past 10 years and we have done pretty decently for buildings in the tropics. So I think there are a lot opportunities for countries as many cities in this region are fast-developing. We need to bring them on a low-carbon path.”

He explained that through the alliance, Singapore could share its expertise, particularly through Singapore’s annual green buildings conference and to invite some of the alliance members to share experiences, report progress and see how things can improve.

“It’s a way to encourage each other to do more,” he said.

He also said that the alliance could also open up business opportunities for Singapore firms involved in designing, building and fitting out green buildings.

But delegates at the forum spoke of large amounts of financing needed to invest in building new green buildings or retrofitting older ones.

“This transformation requires investing around an additional US$220 billion (S$310 billion)  by 2020 – an almost 50 per cent increase on 2014 investment in energy efficient buildings,” the statement said.

Delegates said carbon markets, green bonds and other financing initiatives can all help bridge the financing gap. They also spoke of the premium that green buildings attract in rentals and improved working environments through better lighting, more efficient airconditioning controls and other steps.