Reflecting back on the previous post, it can be seen that Singapore 3P Partnership has been a success in greening Singapore. Nonetheless, greening the value chain is no easy task especially engaging different stakeholders with different perspectives. Getting everyone on the same page requires significant effort as well as a strategic partnership. Singapore has indeed forged a strong 3P partnership as it tries to be a greener city. However, behind these successes, there are surely obstacles that have hindered the progression of the green building and green energy agenda.
It can be primarily noted that Singapore 3P partnership is mainly steered by the public sector. The driving force provided by the public sector has certainly propelled the partnership to greater heights. Albeit that, green buildings or green energy was not the top of public sector policy as the people are still focused on bread and butter issues (A New Era in Building Partnership, 2013). Such issues were central at that period as Singapore was affected by the global recession in 2009 and was still going through economic restructuring as it shifts towards a knowledge-based economy. Thus, green agenda was certainly not the government priority.
Having said that, how did the government then overcome this hurdle and formed the strategic partnership?
Knowing the importance of green buildings and the usage of green technology, the government, which was represented by the Building Construction Authority (BCA) realised that for a partnership to be formed, an industry-led non-governmental organisation has to be formed (A New Era in Building Partnership, 2013). As a result, in 2009, the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) (2009) was formed. The inception of the SGBC has certainly enabled the successful partnership. As mentioned before, getting everyone on the same page is no easy feat as everybody has conflicting priorities. However, being the policy maker and regulator, the government realised that to ensure the interest of the people is served, it decided that having an industry-led NGO with the leadership be held by non-government representatives is the way to go (A New Era in Building Partnership, 2013).
Forming the SGBC was certainly the right chess move. Having the full government support, SGBC was able to bring both the public and private sector on the same page. The SGBC has utilised a thorough process to ensure there was wide representation on the board. This was done by having the majority of the representation from industry associations and academia while the remaining are filled up by individual businesses, ensuring that objective interests always come first (SGBC, n.d.). Having governmental organisations like BCA, Urban Redevelopment Authority and industry associations like Singapore Institute of Architects and the Singapore Contractors Association enables SGBC to get them into a room to discuss the green agenda for Singapore. SGBC is not a self-interest group, but rather they represent the interest of industry and government ensuring that both the private and public sector receives representation.
Aside from getting everybody on the same page, another obstacle faced in pushing for the partnership is that the private sector tends to have “wait and see” attitude as they are ignorance and lack the knowledge about the benefits of green buildings (Solidiance, 2010). Due to the nature of the private sector, the government has decided that it will be the one setting the standards providing a reference for the private industry (BCA, n.d.). JTC, a governmental agency, for instance, has taken the lead in devoting themselves towards the green movement. A quote from the CEO of JTC, Mr Png, “As Singapore’s leading industrial infrastructure specialist, it is crucial for JTC to play an active leadership role in environmental sustainability and stewardship,” (BCA, n.d.). By establishing standards and also the direction, the private sector has a guide that they can follow. This certainly has minimised the “wait and see” attitude as we can see many private developers like CapitaLand and City Development Limited has jumped onto the green bandwagon.
Moving on the industry players are focused on the short term expensive upfront cost rather than the long term amortisation cost (Solidiance, 2010). Greening buildings especially retrofitting existing ones with green features is a costly work. However, many industry players fail to realise that the benefits these features bring about often outweigh the costs of installing them. One prominent benefit of green building is that it is energy efficient, and aside from that it also cuts carbon footprint as it uses green energy sources like solar panels. Realising that cost is a big factor for the private sector whose primary role is to please shareholders, the government has launched several incentives to entice these players to green their buildings. One example of such incentive is the BREEF (Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing) Scheme. The scheme is carried out by BCA in collaboration with Financial Institutions to provide credit loan to companies to retrofit existing green buildings to achieve Green Mark certified standard (Tay, 2015). Acknowledging cost issues as a hindrance from a successful partnership, governments method to incentivise the private corporations has facilitated the formation of the partnership.
Many has thought that a public-private partnership alone is enough. Often people tend to miss out the people sector. Not known to many the people sector is a crucial factor and is as equally important as the public and private sector. With advances in green technology and facilities, there is only much the public and private sector can do to ensure that sustainability. It is pointless if the end users who are the people are not educated on how to use and manage such features. As a result, many initiatives are being carried out such as BCA Green exhibitions as well as SGBC ‘Project Green Insights’ which was to educate students about energy savings that one can receive through greening of buildings. Moreover, by educating the members of the public, SGBC was able to alter the mindset of the public. This, in turn, enable a strong collaboration to be formed as the people who are informed will demand green buildings in turn making the issue a matter of public policy (A New Era in Building Partnership, 2013).
All in all by having an industry led NGO to over the hurdle of getting everyone on the same page, eliminating the “wait and see” attitude amongst the private sector, financing costs issues and also altering the mindset of the public has indeed removed the obstacles in forming the strategic partnership.
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A New Era in Building Partnership (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://www.worldgbc.org/files/…/WorldGBC_A_New_Era_in_Building_Partnerships.pdf
Singapore Green Building Council. Sgbc.sg. Retrieved from http://www.sgbc.sg/about-us/about-sgbc
Singapore Green Buildings hub in Asia? www.solidiance.com (2010). Slideshare.net. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dduhamel/solidiance-singapore-greenbuildingshubinasia
Singapore: Leading the way for Green Buildings in the Tropics (1st ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/greenmark/others/sg_green_buildings_tropics.pdf
3rd Green Building Master Plan (3rd ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/GreenMark/others/3rd_Green_Building_Masterplan.pdf