In A Nutshell

After eleven weeks of blogging about green buildings and green energy in Singapore, it is finally the last blogpost where it will be a summary of the post. In less than a decade since Singapore started its green building journey, its name has been put on the global map. This mainly due to the government being the driver for green buildings in Singapore. The government has taken serious effort when it is dealing with the issue of sustainability as being a resource-poor nation, it is crucial that Singapore can balance the issue of sustainability while continue to prosper economically.

Knowing that it is not able to fight alone in the journey towards green buildings, Singapore’s government has adopted a partnership approach. It has acknowledged that the private and the people sector are crucial players in ensuring that Singapore can green its buildings and built environment. However, being the government, there is a limit to how much it can do. At the end of the day, the main role of the government is to come up with legislation for the country while serving the needs of the public. As such, there is a ceiling to what the government can do. Thus through the partnership model, the government can carry out its role while trying to strive for a sustainable Singapore.

Singapore model of partnership is not exactly organic as it does not happen naturally on its own. Rather it is facilitated by the government. The government is the driver in the entire partnership model as they are the one that approach the private sectors to collaborate with them. Additionally, having the most power, they have a significant influence on the people sector through formal education as well as various exhibitions. As such, the partnership model is a success in Singapore despite it being an inorganic one. Moreover, being a small state, it is easier to facilitate and coordinate the efforts of the different players. Furthermore, albeit having a partnership model, decision making is still centralised and is usually in the hands of the government. As a result of this, it ensures that the decisions have to go through the higher authority before being rolled out. This is beneficial in the sense that higher power is involved and are aware of what is happening. Nonetheless, there is a downside to it as centralised decision-making slows down the decision-making process which slows down the journey towards green buildings.

However, the uniqueness of the public-private-people partnership is what enabled Singapore to achieve what it has desired to do so. Private sectors are willing to jump on the bandwagon as the incentives provided by the government allow them to carry out their operations with minimal disruption. Moreover, the grants are very attractive, and they are also aware of the benefits they can reap from the partnership. For instance, through the greening of buildings, private corporations can reduce operation cost enabling them to increase their profit. Furthermore, greening the buildings also improve the productivity of the workers which allow them to perform effectively in their work. As such the benefits that private sector player gets from joining the partnership is what entice them to join. Singapore’s government incentivising scheme is one of the best in the world and highly praised for the package that the different schemes offer.

Lastly, the people sector is often viewed as an appendage to the partnership between the public and private sector. Realising that Singapore’s primary assets are its human capital, the inclusion of the people sector into the public-private partnership is what enables the government to push for greater green building activity in the little red dot. Moreover, with the establishment of the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC), a non-governmental organisation prompted by BCA is also a strategic move as SGBC has been focusing on creating a movement. They are doing so by changing the mindset of the people sector through education. This is certainly the right way to go as influencing end users are important in ensuring that green buildings continue to remain green. Moreover, having a movement will also actually push the government and also the private sector to meet the needs of the members of the public. If the people sector are educated about green buildings and realised the green benefits that the green building can bring they are surely able to demand more, voicing out their opinions to the government and private sector.

All in all, Singapore has a tremendous progress since it first begins its green journey building. The partnership model has worked in Singapore and is thankful to the government for initiating the formation of the partnership. Nonetheless, Singapore partnership model may not work in another country due to the size of the country as well as the size of the various sectors. If Singapore manages to sustain and enhance the partnership it has already developed, Singapore will be able to be a leader in green buildings. There is still much to be done when dealing with green buildings in Singapore. Nevertheless, being a forward-looking country and a country that anticipates changes, Singapore is on the right track in its fight for green buildings.

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Collaboration & Engagement with Stakeholders

In the previous blogpost, we have focused on one of BCA strategic goal which is continued leadership in the green building sector. Today, we will be looking at the other strategic goal which is wider collaboration and engagement (3rd Green Building Masterplan, n.d.). The government has acknowledged that there is a limit to how far they can push for sustainability and as such, BCA feels that I need to foster wider but closer partnership with the principal stakeholders such as industry players, school community, building owners, tenants and users (BCA, n.d.).

The government engagement with stakeholder, particularly the members of the public comprises of two activities which are to train future professional to create a green collar workforce and harnessing volunteers to lend their support (BCA, n.d.). The government has always focused on the public-private partnership and see the people sector as an appendage to this partnership. This should not be the view as it is crucial to engage the stakeholder. The government would be more effective in its effort to combat for green buildings if it had taken into account the needs and expectation of its other stakeholders (McShane, 2015). However, to comprehend, handle and satisfy the interest of stakeholders is difficult as different stakeholders have a different view.

For instance, the people sector still focuses on bread and butter issues in Singapore (World Green Building Council, n.d.). The bleakish outlook of the future economy, as well as the sluggish growth of the local economy, makes me afraid of their rice bowl. Due to this issue, getting public to jump on to the sustainable bandwagon is challenging. Aside from that other stakeholders like industry professionals and industry players may also have contrary views. Their goals may be to meet their bottom line rather than being sustainable. However, living in the 21st century where technology prevalent, society is becoming more educated and as such may demand more sustainable measures forcing corporations to go green if not they will lose their business.

Nevertheless, with ever-changing societal needs, there is still a long way to go to ensure that every stakeholder regardless of their salience are willing to jump on the green building bandwagon. Creating a movement and changing public opinion takes ages and the government must be patient while trying to get the people to champion for green buildings. Nonetheless, once the government has managed to win the people over to join the green building fight, it is much easier to get the private sector as well. Reason being is that being consumers, the members of the public will then be able to demand corporations to utilise green buildings or provide green building features or installations in their house. Firms, in other words, are forced to go green if not they will lose their business.

Although changing the public opinion requires a lot of hard work, the government should try to focus more on the youth and school sector. This is because Millennials nowadays are more open to accepting new ideas or changes. Millennials do not view environmental issues the same as the older generation does. They are opinionated and concern with the environment they live and as such practice sustainable living. BCA plan of trying to green school using the Green School Roadmap that it had developed is certainly the right way to go (3rd Green Building Masterplan, n.d.).

All in all, the public sector has been successful thus far in changing the public opinion through roving exhibitions. Nonetheless, as climate change is not exactly a very pertinent issue right now, the public are still a little hesitant to support the fight for green buildings entirely. To move forward, the government should continue looking for strong advocates that are very open minded and also to be patient and non-confrontational when dealing with all the stakeholders. The government has to build a movement when trying to engage the different stakeholders. Changing the public opinion is no easy feat, and they have to be patient when dealing with it.

Number of words: 667 words

 Resources:

3rd Green Building Master Plan (3rd ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/GreenMark/others/3rd_Green_Building_Masterplan.pdf

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

McShane, S. & Von Glinow, M. (2015). Organizational Behavior Emerging Knowledge Global Reality (Global Edition).

Singapore Continued Leadership in the Green Fight

Albeit its small size, Singapore dreams big. As part of the third masterplan for green buildings, published by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Singapore hopes to be “A global leader in green buildings with particular expertise in tropics and sub-tropics, enabling sustainable development and quality living,” (3rd Green Building Masterplan, n.d.). This shows the seriousness of Singapore towards the fight for green buildings. Singapore does not only hope that it can reduce its carbon footprint through greening its building but also wishes that the surrounding region will do so.

BCA, the primary authority for green buildings in Singapore has been stellar in leading the little red dot to scale the global map. The Green Mark Scheme developed by the authority is praised worthy and falls nothing short compared to the US Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. BCA Green Mark Scheme is stronger regarding energy efficiency, suited to the tropical climate and stringent standards of measurement and verification instrumentation (BCA, n.d.).

Singapore has always been a country that is forward-looking and also anticipate changes. It constantly reviews policies to keep in line with the latest technology as well as societal demand. Due to its forward-looking and anticipating changes, Singapore can progress in its fight towards environmental sustainability and be a leader in the region. To ensure that it remains the leader in the green building in the tropical region, BCA Green Mark Scheme is undergoing review together with a broad spectrum of industry consultation to come up with a new version that encapsulates the holistic measure of the green factor of a building (BCA, n.d.). Additionally, the new scheme will also take into account consideration regarding design as well as technology factor when it comes to green building (BCA, n.d.).

Aside from BCA constant updating of its Green Mark Scheme to keep in line with the changing time, BCA is also focusing more on Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) (BCA, n.d.). BCA is shifting its focus on the RD&D of green buildings as it feels that it has a critical role to play in the next phase of development of green buildings as RD&D can influence not only policies but also the design of the buildings (BCA, n.d.). As such, BCA has embarked on international collaboration such as US Department of Energy as well as working with other private and public sector players through the Green Building Innovation Cluster.

Besides BCA efforts to remain ahead in the green building field through the revision of its Green Mark Scheme as well as RD&D collaboration, BCA also increases its global profiling by playing a variety of roles in green building projects overseas. These functions may include consultancy roles as well as the role of trainers. One prominent example where BCA worked together with another country in its green building project will be that of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City. In the project BCA jointly with the Eco-City Administrative Committee (ECAC) jointly developed Green Building Evaluation Standards for the eco-city and BCA also organised tailored training programmes for the ECAC government officials and industry professionals to educate them about the concept of green building concepts and also jointly developed green building technologies (BCA, n.d.). With the strong, credible body that BCA has established to further the green building, agenda has enabled it to gain the trust of other countries around the region.

Singapore is currently leading the region with its BCA Green Mark Scheme. BCA has close to 200 projects in over ten countries such as China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand that have adopted the Green Mark certification programme. In addition to that, Singapore seriousness in its fight for green buildings can be seen from it being a member of United Nations, Environment Programme (UNEP), Sustainable Building Index Steering Committee since 2010 (BCA, n.d.).  This proves Singapore leadership in green buildings and hopes to continue this leadership through the sharing and training on sustainable buildings and technologies as seen in BCA third green building masterplan.

Number of words: 663 words

Resources:

3rd Green Building Master Plan (3rd ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/GreenMark/others/3rd_Green_Building_Masterplan.pdf

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

Is Partnership still the way forward for a Green Fight?

Singapore journey towards a nation certified with green buildings is not an easy one. It has faced many challenges along the way but has managed to address them systematically over the years. Singapore has adopted the 3P (Public, Private and People) partnership in the fight towards green buildings. The partnership model has been the talk and praised by many countries. Singapore’s government is the primary driver in steering the nation towards a country filled with green buildings. Knowing that it alone is not enough to reach its goal of 80% of buildings certified green in 2030, the public sector has enlisted the help of the private sector. Aside from that the government also realised that the people sector should not be seen as an appendage to the public-private sector partnership but viewed as a valuable player in the partnership model. Moreover, the public sector realised that influencing end users are critical as it is pointless to have a green building without green users.

The partnership model in the fight towards the green building in Singapore has been a successful one. As quoted from the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BCA, ““Our success would not be possible without the strong commitment and close coordination across the whole-of-government to catalyse transformation towards environmental sustainability. The firm partnership with other regulatory agencies, NGOs and industry has also enabled us to accelerate the green building momentum forward,” (BCA, n.d.).

There are various reasons as to why the partnership model in Singapore has been a success. The significant factor that leads to its success will be the government’s strong stance towards sustainability. Since Singapore independence, the nation always ensures that the country will not only prosper economically but also ensure that progress happens at an environmentally sustainable rate such that Singaporeans will have a healthy environment to live in. Quoted from Dr John Keung of BCA, “We have gone past the point where going green is an option. It has now become an absolute necessity,” (BCA, n.d.). This indeed shows that the public sector views environmental sustainability issue seriously and tries to reduce its carbon footprint through greening its building. Aside from that the government also realises that green buildings are crucial as it not only reduces energy and water consumption but also ensure that we manage our energy and water usage as we are a resource poor country.

Aside from the public sector, the private sector also plays a major role in ensuring the success of the partnership. Private developers such as CapitaLand and City Development Limited provided the government with the technical expertise that the public sector lack. Moreover, aside from filling up the missing gap, these private developers’ open-mindedness also enabled a successful collaboration between the private and public sector to happens. For instance, CDL and CapitaLand were willing to embark together with BCA in BCA Green Building Innovation Cluster (GBIC) where its aim is to integrate all green building related R&D into one hub allowing them to exhibit and exchange ideas amongst the private and public sector (BCA, 2015).

Last but not least is the people sector. It is important to take note that the government believes that it needs to value the entire green value chain which includes the people sector. As such it is no surprise both the public and private sector are carrying out roving exhibitions (BCA, n.d.) to educate the public about the benefits that green buildings bring about and how the people sector can take advantage of the energy and water saving that is brought about by green buildings.

With the efforts made by all the three sectors, it has certainly brought about the positive impact on the landscape of the green buildings in Singapore as can be seen from the exponential growth of the number of green buildings over the last decade. Nonetheless, the focus of engaging the different sector through the 3P Partnership requires some adjustments. For instance, when engaging the public sector, BCA should focus more on interagency collaboration as the issue of green buildings in Singapore is a strategic issue. As such BCA may not have all the relevant expertise and knowledge concerning green buildings. Thus by focusing on more interagency collaboration, BCA will be able to get the backing and support of other government agencies. By getting other governmental agencies on board will ensure that the issue of green buildings get greater support making it an issue for all public servants.

As for the private sector, instead of incentivising the private sector to retrofit their existing green buildings with green features, the government should instead focus on incentivising them to engage in research and development (R&D) as R&D will have a greater impact on the policy making as well as the designing process. Moreover, by giving the private sector financial incentives to do R&D, the government can focus on its primary role which is to ensure the welfare of the people are being met while the private sector can provide the expertise and infrastructure that the public sector needs.

Lastly for the people sector that instead of trying to educate about green buildings, both the public and private sector should actually try to change the people mind-set such that they are more aware of the benefits of the green buildings and them then can voice their support for green buildings (World Green Building, n.d.). By engaging with the people directly, we can utilise a large pool of untapped resource which has a greater impact on the everyday life of every person in Singapore. Once the people sector is on the green bandwagon, the mission for green building will then be a matter of public policy (World Green Building Council, n.d.). However, it can be noted that changing public perception is challenging especially in Singapore where economic issues remain the number one agenda on the majority of Singaporeans. With the sluggish growth in our economy as well as the bleak outlook of the global economy, it is no surprise that green buildings may be at the bottom of the list. As such, changing public perceptions requires continual effort. Results may be slow, but with time it will change.

All in all, the partnership model when it comes to dealing with green buildings in Singapore is certainly a great way forward in the fight for green building. The partnership model is certainly beneficial in Singapore context partly due to its small size as well as the strong influence that the public sector has. As such the partnership model should continue as Singapore continues its journey towards a nation with more green buildings. Nonetheless, the current model of partnership requires a few adjustments to ensure that it continues serving the purpose that it should be.

Number of words: 1122 words

Resources:

 Realising Singapore’s Green Building Dream. (2015) (1st ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/GreenMark/others/BCA_Green_Mark_10th_Anniversary_Commemorative_Book.pdf

Building Construction Authority. (2015). Green Buildings Innovation Cluster E-Newsletter 1. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/BCA_Consultation/others/GBIC_Newsletter.pdf

WorldGBC 3: Singapore. Worldgbc.org. Retrieved, from http://www.worldgbc.org/infohub/key-principles/case-studies/singapore

Future Outlook of Green Buildings in Singapore

In the recent White Paper published by Solidiance, Singapore is ranked second among the global cities for green buildings (Azmi, 2016). Singapore is behind Paris in the studies conducted by Solidiance. Singapore journey in green buildings have only started in the late 2000s, but it has managed to put its name on the global map for green buildings. This indeed shows that the country is committed towards its goal of having 80% of the buildings certified green in 2030.

However, despite being environmentally sustainable by advocating for more green buildings in Singapore, the government has found it always a challenge to maintain the balance between environmental protection and also economic growth. Bread and butter issues such as the status of the economy, employment has always been the focal point of the public sector (World Green Building Council, n.d.). As such to achieve the best of both worlds, its requires a lot of effort and hard work from not only the public sector but also both the private and the people sector.

As we all know, Singapore is still undergoing economic restructuring as it tries to be a knowledge-based economy while seeking to improve the productivity of the country. The government has released financial aids such as the Transition Support Package to help businesses adjust to the economic restructuring and also the increasing business operations (Singapore Budget, 2016). Aside from that, Singapore progress in its economic transformation has been encouraging. Nevertheless, being a small and open economy, Singapore is still impacted by global events. Despite the growth of the economy by 2% in 2015 (Singapore Budget, 2016), Singapore still faces a lot of economic uncertainty especially due to the uneven rate of global economic recovery. As such, with the uncertainty and unpredictability of the economy, Singapore government is such facing a challenge while trying to be a sustainable nation.

Nonetheless, Singapore government has always made it a priority to ensure that economic growth does not happen at the stake of environmental sustainability. This can certainly be seen from the fact that Singapore is second in the world in terms of global cities for green buildings. This surely shows that Singapore is serious about reducing its global carbon footprint and is doing this through fighting for more green buildings. As quoted from Dr John Keung, “We have gone past the point where going green is an option. It has now become an absolute necessity,” (Solidiance, 2010).

Furthermore, the future outlook of Singapore green building landscape is very promising. This can be seen from the methods Singapore has embarked on to develop her green hub capabilities. In BCA second masterplan, it stated that 18,000 green specialists will be educated at “PMET” (Professional, Manager, Executive and Technician) level over the next decade (Solidiance, 2010). The aim of this plan is to ensure that Singapore can develop its green workforce and make up the gap in professional expertise in the green building sector.

Aside from ensuring a green workforce is available, Singapore is also committed to expanding its technical expertise through research and development. BCA “has a suite of initiatives to promote R&D,” (Tan, 2011). These suit of efforts include BCA Skylab, a rotatable laboratory for test-bedding and developing energy-efficient technology (Tan, 2011) as well as BCA international collaboration with Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy Laboratory (BCA, n.d.).

All in all, it can be seen that the future outlook for green buildings in Singapore is very promising. Singapore goal of having 80% of its building certified by 2030 is ambitious, but nonetheless, Singapore is on the right track of achieving the goal come 2030. Singapore has many strengths when it comes to promoting green building in the country. These include substantial governmental supports, a plethora of financial incentives, dynamic Green Mark scheme as well as the training of a “green collar” workforce (Solidiance, 2010). Albeit these strengths, it is worth noting, that Singapore still faces some challenges such as the lack of local expertise on green buildings and having to collaborate with international partners to fill up the missing piece of the knowledge picture. This, in turn, causes more work as the government will then have to adapt the idea into local context as most of Singapore international partners are from the western countries where they have a temperate climate instead of a tropical climate like Singapore. Nonetheless, Singapore has managed to address these issues and have been handling it systematically.

As such, we can be firmly assured that Singapore government is committed towards a nation filled with green buildings and sustainability is something serious that the government deals with.

Number of words: 769 words

Resources:

Azmi, N. (2016). Singapore ranks 2nd among global cities for green buildings. AsiaOne. Retrieved from http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/singapore-ranks-2nd-among-global-cities-green-buildings#sthash.CyHmBl5i.dpuf

WorldGBC 3: Singapore. Worldgbc.org. Retrieved, from http://www.worldgbc.org/infohub/key-principles/case-studies/singapore

Tan, A. (2016). Buildings can play part in green fight. Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/buildings-can-play-part-in-green-fight

Singapore Green Buildings hub in Asia? www.solidiance.com (2010). Slideshare.net. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dduhamel/solidiance-singapore-greenbuildingshubinasia

Singapore Budget 2016. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2016/pb.aspx

Alternatives to 3P Partnership: Interagency Collaboration

In the previous blogpost, we have taken a look at how Singapore can work with international partners and learn from their best practices in the fight towards green buildings. Singapore journey towards a nation filled with green buildings is relatively new. Nonetheless, the rate at which green building number is rising is going at an exponential rate. This is partly attributable to Singapore strategic 3P partnership in the fight for green buildings. However, the another factor that contributes to Singapore green building success is due to its strong inter-agency collaboration. Inter-agency collaboration is a paramount ingredient in Singapore triumphant fight in green buildings.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the primary green building governmental agency in Singapore has always adopted an open-mind when it comes to collaborating with other government agencies as they are aware of the importance of coming together when fighting towards green buildings (World Green Building Council, n.d.). BCA has acknowledged that greater inter-agency collaboration is crucial as having other government agencies on board will allow for more significant changes in policies (World Green Building Council, n.d.). Aside from more significant policy changes, BCA also noted that interagency collaboration allows the exchange of technical expertise such as its partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB).

BCA and EDB both have collaborated to develop the local green industry in Singapore (Solidiance, 2010). The collaboration is certainly a beneficial one as it allows BCA to focus on the policy side while EDB focuses on systems and technologies. For instance, the Urban Solutions (US) Department within EDB focuses on solutions for urban living by test bedding these solutions (Solidiance, 2010). Meanwhile, BCA focuses on broad-based legislation such as the Green Mark Scheme as well as leading by example through the implementation of regulations which public-sector agencies has to abide by (Solidiance, 2010).

However, inter-agency collaboration does not happen quickly as the fact is that at the end of the day, the different agencies still have their agenda which might be conflicting. Nevertheless, as suggested by the Civil Service College (Zainal, 2011), BCA can adopt these following measures to ensure a more efficient collaboration to take place. These steps are:

  1. Pursue disciplined, rather than directed collaborations
  2. Move from resource allocation to resource leveraging
  3. Establish processes, not just structures
  4. Think customer and citizen needs, not agency priorities
  5. Empower officers to solve problems without escalation

The above steps are crucial in ensuring that inter-agency collaboration happens successfully. When it comes to collaboration, agencies have a lot of red tapes and administrative procedures that have to be cleared. The increase in bureaucracy is what complicates thing and hinder effective inter-agency collaboration from happening.

Aside from that BCA has to note that inter-agency cooperation is effective when it tries to fight for more green building in Singapore. This is because BCA journey to a green built environment is still relatively new and as such, it may not have all the relevant knowledge or resources to handle the issue. As such, collaboration with other government agencies is crucial as they may have the required expertise that BCA lacks.

However, it can be noted that from this post and the previous post, the alternatives to the 3P partnership is primarily focused on the public sector. The reason being is that the public sector has the most power and influence over the nation’s agenda. Additionally, the government is the main driving force for pushing green buildings. As such, the alternatives primarily focus on the public sector. Nevertheless, the public sector, especially the BCA has to take note despite wanting to move fast; it has to ensure to ensure that it does not move too fast or too hard as the private sector and industry may not be able to keep pace. If it is challenging for them to keep up with the changes that BCA rolls out, it might see the policies as an inconvenience which may result in them pulling out their investment from Singapore. It is worth noting that Singapore’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign direct investments. As such, Singapore government has to balance both the economy and environment. It has to ensure that it does not happen at the cost of one or the other.

Number of words: 706 words

Resources:

WorldGBC 3: Singapore. Worldgbc.org. Retrieved, from http://www.worldgbc.org/infohub/key-principles/case-studies/singapore

Singapore Green Buildings hub in Asia? www.solidiance.com (2010). Slideshare.net. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dduhamel/solidiance-singapore-greenbuildingshubinasia

Zainal, K. (2011). Reviewing Whole-of-Government Collaboration in the Singapore Public Service. Civil Service College. Retrieved from https://www.cscollege.gov.sg/knowledge/ethos/issue%209%20jun%202011/pages/reviewing-whole-of-government-collaboration-in-the-singapore-public-service.aspx

 

Alternatives to 3P Partnership: International Collaboration

Albeit being a small island state surrounded by large neighbours, Singapore is a force to be reckoned with. Singapore has established many international collaborations for nation buildings since it gained independence from the British back in 1965. The relationships with the other countries have benefitted Singapore in a plethora of ways. Partnership agreements may range from technological to technical transfers. It may also include collaboration where Singapore and countries like Malaysia and Indonesia come together to combat environmental issues such as transboundary haze.

We all know that the advocacy and fight for green buildings not only will benefit Singapore alone but benefit the entire global population as we are working towards eradicating and minimising the impact of climate change. Singapore’s model of the 3P Partnership has been working in the fight towards building new green buildings as well as retrofitting existing ones to make it green. Nonetheless, the partnership that is happening is based on local context, and there are still work to be done to push for a further and stronger partnership.  As such, by working together with international counterparts, Singapore can learn from the best practices of the different countries and try to implement it here. However, it is wise to take note that what may work in other parts of the world such as the United States or Europe may not work in Singapore due to the different in climate as well as the mindset of the people.

In a report from the World Green Building Council (2013), it noted that 41% of Singapore firms cited lack of public awareness in green building as a major challenge for them when coming on board the bandwagon for green buildings. This means that education, case studies and training could be a possible way of increasing the number of green in Singapore. In the report, it also noted that European countries namely France, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom (UK), rank the highest regarding green buildings (World Green Building Council, 2013). As such, it is wise that Singapore can learn from the European nations on how it pushes for green buildings in its country aggressively.

For one, it can be noted that the fight for green buildings in Europe has started way earlier than Singapore and as such the results of their hard work has certainly shown results. Nonetheless, Europe has invested in a lot of effort when trying to green their buildings. According to the World Green Building Council (n.d.), a Europe Network Common Education Platform was created to strengthen the educational programs that Green Building Council has conducted and also to harmonise green building knowledge across Europe. The Network contains resources and training materials for the usual green building topics which are developed together by the different European countries which can be adapted to any country for local delivery. Since Singapore is a member of the World Green Building Council, it is certainly something that Singapore can tap on when trying to push for more green buildings in Singapore.

Aside from collaborating with other nations to learn about their best practices, Singapore can also collaborate with other countries regarding research and development (R&D). As mentioned before in one of my blogposts, R&D is an important aspect in the fight off green building. R&D affects policies that are being legislated as well as the approach when designing a building. However, as Singapore is still relatively new in the fight towards green buildings, it might lack the expertise and knowledge that is needed to create effective and efficient green buildings. In Solidiance (2010) report, Singapore SWOT Analysis indicated that its “lack of readily available expertise” as one of the weaknesses in Singapore’s green building industry. As such, it is essential for Singapore to collaborate with international partners such that it can fill the hole in the knowledge gap.

For instance, one successful collaboration regarding knowledge transfer of green building will be that off with Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy Laboratory (BCA, n.d.). The international collaboration has enabled BCA to learn from them regarding advanced building technologies as well as building a FLEXLAB facility (facility for low energy experiments related to buildings) in BCA Academy (BCA, n.d.). This is certainly beneficial as it helps to improve Singapore’s green capabilities and at the same time also learn how to adopt technology practices overseas into Singapore’s context.

However, it is worth noting that international collaboration is more applicable to the public sector rather than the private sector. Reason being is that the public sector usually has more negotiating power compared to the private sector and are seen to be more credible partners. As such Singapore’s government should try to establish more international collaboration with counterparts overseas to learn from them. Aside from bringing environmental benefit to the country, Singapore is also able to strengthen its diplomacy ties through environmental collaboration.

All in all, Singapore should enhance its 3P Partnership by international collaboration as it will be able to tap on the expertise from its international partners and apply it to the local context.

Number of words: 844 words

Resources:

WorldGBC 3: Research highlights which countries are leading on green building. Worldgbc.org. Retrieved from http://www.worldgbc.org/index.php/activities/news/global-news/research-highlights-which-countries-are-leading-green-building/

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

WorldGBC 3: Common Education Platform. Worldgbc.org. Retrieved from http://www.worldgbc.org/regions/europe/education/common-education-platform/

World Green Building Trends. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.worldgbc.org/files/8613/6295/6420/World_Green_Building_Trends_SmartMarket_Report_2013.pdf

Strengthening Partnership amongst the 3P Sectors – Legislation

The strategic 3P (Public, Private & People) Partnership has been the right way forward in the fight towards a little red dot filled with green buildings. In the previous blogposts, we have taken a look at how the different sectors can enhance the partnership with the other sectors. In today’s blogpost, we will be focusing on how the strategic partnership can be further strengthen through legislation. Through legislation, it affects the public and private sectors more. The people sector, on the other hand, are the ones that will benefit from the legislation put forth by the public sector.

As we all know, Singapore is not a fully democratic nor it is an autocratic country. That being said it means that the government still have a substantial amount of power and influence when it comes to legislating rules for the betterment of the country. Singapore has been known as a country where there are many rules and regulations that some may find it silly. Nonetheless, the rules legislated by parliament are all for the betterment of the country. For instance, the ban on bubble gum in Singapore indeed created an island that is clean and not filled with bubble gums stains. Another legislation was the banning of smoking in public areas which certainly benefits the people as it reduces second-hand smoke. As such, legislation has indeed created a better Singapore since its independence 50 years ago.

In the fight towards green buildings, Singapore does have several legislations that are being implemented to ensure the different sectors are on board the fight for green buildings. The public sector, for instance, requires public sector agencies to only lease office spaces from buildings with at least Green Mark GoldPlus rating (Energy Efficient Singapore, n.d.). Meanwhile, for the private sector, the government has come out with several rules and regulations to ensure that they green their buildings. For instance, under the Building Control Act, building owners are required to retrofit existing buildings to ensure they meet minimum environmental sustainability standards (3rd Green Building Masterplan, n.d.). Aside from retrofitting existing buildings, in 2008, the Building Control Act was amended to impose minimum environmental standards on new buildings (3rd Green Building Masterplan, n.d.).

All of the legislation mentioned above certainly has positive outcomes as it forces the different sectors to come onto the bandwagon for green buildings. The various sectors did not have an option but rather to comply with the legislation or faced a harsh penalty from the government. Nonetheless, despite “forcing” the sectors to green their buildings, using legislation is certainly a way to strengthen the partnership, but it has to be taken with caution. The government has come out with legislations to force the private sector to comply with these regulations at the end of the day are aimed at ensuring the health and safety of the people (SFGate, n.d.). As we all know, green buildings offer many benefits to the users such as improved air quality, better ventilation as well as improved state of mind. As such, regulations do ensure that private sector does do whatever is convenient or cost-effective to them but rather focuses on the betterment of the society.

Moving on, legislations also enhances the corporation amongst the 3P sectors. Legislation forces both the public and private sector to innovate to come out with greener technologies. As quoted by Frank Wijen, “Stricter environmental laws tend to increase innovative environmentally friendly technology,” (SFGate, n.d.). As companies have to engage in research and development, private and public sector tends to collaborate as the government has the fundings while the private sector has the expertise. As such regulations will increase the usage of green technologies to improve the performance of green buildings

Aside from strengthening the relationship, it is worth noting the cost especially when it comes to these regulations. As we all know, Singapore is a small and open economy that relies heavily on foreign direct investments to boost the nations’ economy. As such with stricter and more regulations to ensure that all sectors embark on the fight for green buildings, may deter multinational corporations from basing in Singapore. Companies may find it an inconvenience (SFGate, n.d.). Additionally, for companies to conduct cost-benefit analysis may also be challenging as some intangible benefits that green buildings have such as improved health or increase in work productivity may be hard to quantify in monetary terms (SFGate, n.d.). Nevertheless, the private sector has to take note that the iron law of responsibility states that corporations will lose their power if they are not able to use the power they have in a responsible manner deemed by the society.

All in all, legislations should not be used alone but rather be used as an enforcing tool to ensure that the initiatives carried out amongst the 3P sectors continue to happen. When coming up with regulations, the public sector has to make sure that these regulations are not in the self-interest of the government but for the betterment of the society. They also to note that these regulations should not hinder the country from progressing economically. A holistic approach has to be taken when coming out with regulations. As such legislation, if being used right will reap its fruits.

Number of words: 871 words

Resources:

e2 Singapore. e2singapore.gov.sg. Retrieved from http://www.e2singapore.gov.sg/Programmes/Public_Sector_Taking_the_Lead_in_Environmental_Sustainability.aspx

3rd Green Building Master Plan (3rd ed.). Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.bca.gov.sg/GreenMark/others/3rd_Green_Building_Masterplan.pdf

Advantages & Disadvantages of Instituting Environmental Laws. Homeguides.sfgate.com. Retrieved from http://homeguides.sfgate.com/advantages-disadvantages-instituting-environmental-laws-78903.html

Enhancing Partnership between Public & People Sector – Green Initiatives

We are living in a country where a mixed economy is prevalent, and as such, both the private and public sector has a strong influence on how we conduct our living. As such both the public and private sector should work hand in hand with the people sector as the outcome of their actions will be felt strongly by the members of the public. In Singapore, the private sectors are main developers for the built environment. As such, they are responsible for building green buildings. However, usually, the green building designs, fail to engage the inhabitants of the building.

Some of the initiatives carried out by the private developers include CapitaLand’s ‘Building a Greener Future’ Community engagement drive and the Ascendas Green Movement (BCA, n.d.). Let us get a brief idea on what these initiatives have to offer. For instance, Ascendas Green Movement is a month long campaign in Singapore to encourage the adoption of green practices amongst its tenants and employees in Singapore (Ascendas, 2008). Meanwhile, CapitaLand’s ‘Building a Greener Future’ drive aimed at encouraging the company’s stakeholders and also members of the public to play their part in the fight towards protecting the environment. The initiative includes roving exhibitions to educate members of the public how various buildings have been greened and what their benefits are for homeowners.

Both Ascendas and CapitaLand approach, in my opinion, are seen as rather seeing the inhabitants or the building users as the source of problems rather than solutions. Green buildings are certified green but being certified green alone is not enough if the energy consumption of the building is high. This may be attributed to users who are forgetful, unknowledgeable or just busy. Users may just leave their lights on and windows open or cranking up the thermostat. As such the green initiatives carried out by Ascendas and CapitaLand are more of trying to change the behavioural problem of the users so that they will be able to become better and greener end users. Nonetheless, these developers may have failed to realise that sometimes “…behavioural problem inside a green building may be more of a design problem than a people problem,” (Cole, 2013).

As a result, I feel, that influencing the end users through such initiatives and roving exhibitions alone are not enough. These developers should try to see how green building designs can engage users such that users can be greener. For instance, International Plaza, a building that has been retrofitted has an electronic display showing monthly electricity and water savings for owners and tenants to monitor their utility consumption (BCA, n.d.). Showing users precisely how users benefit from the green features, they will be better educated and aware of how their behaviours affect water and energy consumption. This will, in turn, encourage and influence them to reduce their energy and water consumption such that will be able to become a green user.

Aside from trying to engage the green building design, developers also should aim to create a supportive environment where one attempt to teach and involve people, assisting them in gaining green building literacy (Cole, 2013). Ascendas and CapitaLand should encourage the sharing of best practices amongst the different owners and tenants. These allow the users to gain green building knowledge and at the same time know that there are people out there who is trying to fight against climate change. Such supportive environment will encourage users to jump onto the green bandwagon as they know there are others out there who is advocating for green practices and green buildings.

All in all, influencing end users to create green buildings is insufficient if there is no supportive environment being designed to influence the users. Aside from that green building design has to be engaged such that users know what the benefits are. There is no point in just saying if you are not able to show what are the advantages. Hence, influencing end users’ behaviours and supporting their behaviours will push for more green users in green buildings.

Number of words: 670 words

Resources:

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

Ascendas (2008). Ascendas-singbridge.com. Retrieved from http://www.ascendas-singbridge.com/…/ascendas/…/press%20release-ascendas_launches_asi

Cole, L. (2013). The Green Building as a Medium for Environmental Education. Quod.lib.umich.edu. Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mjs/12333712.0001.012?view=text;rgn=main

Enhancing Partnership between Public & People Sector – Green Academy

In the first of two series on how the public sector engages the people sector, we will be taking a look at how the government aims to create a green workforce. As mentioned countless of time, Singapore’s journey in greening is building is still new. As such Singapore lacks the technical expertise which is one of the weakness identified by Solidiance (2010) in its SWOT Analysis for Singapore’s green building industry. Since the government is the chief steward in the green building journey, it has decided to create the BCA Academy. It believes that such an academy is crucial as it is important to engage the people sector in the journey as they are the one that is primarily using and maintaining the buildings.

The BCA Academy was set up in the late 2000s by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) hoping to develop a green workforce. BCA aims to trained 20,000 green specialists at the professional, manager, engineer and technician level by 2020 (BCA, n.d.). BCA Academy vision is “To be a leader in education and research, for a future-ready built environment,” (BCA Academy, About Us, n.d.). BCA Academy provides students with various form of opportunities to learn with regards to the built environment. Additionally, as sustainability is an important aspect of BCA, the theme Sustainability is infused into many of its programmes such as Master of Science in Sustainable Living, Certification Course for Green Mark Professionals and also BCA-REDAS-SGBC Green Building Seminar.

The programmes that BCA Academy have are highly praised by the students as well as employers. The programmes offered by BCA tackles multi-faceted issue on green buildings and also the teaching pedagogy used prepare the students for real-life matters related to buildings. Preparing the students and also executives for the real life situation is certainly of utmost importance as having the technical knowledge is insufficient if one is not able to apply the knowledge practically.

Aside from that, BCA Academy also houses innovation and clean technologies in-house. These innovations indeed provide the students there with experiential learning as they are given the opportunity to experience green technology first hand. For instance, the Zero Energy Building where BCA has retrofitted with green features has indeed enabled the students to be aware of the data and the results from the building.

Through the setting up of an academy, the government can educate the people about the technical aspect of green buildings. This is crucial as having an educated green workforce will enable Singapore to maintain the green building landscape that it already has. Maintaining green building are important as it is pointless to have green buildings and no one able to maintain it. Having green workforce, they can ensure that green buildings are continued being green even after they are certified green. Additionally, having a green workforce will also enable more innovations to be developed along the way. Having more people educated about the technical aspect of green buildings will allow them to come out with more innovative solutions for the nations.

Furthermore, through the training of ordinary people to be educated about green buildings are crucial as they will feel more involved in the fight. Through the training, the members of the public are given the opportunity to be educated about the green buildings and learnt how they could they can contribute to the fight. This gives them a more sense of ownership in ensuring that Singapore has a quality environment for its people to live in.

All in all, engaging the people sector through BCA Academy is certainly a magnificent idea. As it provides the opportunity for people to participate in green building formally, they will be more inclined to fight together with the government as well as the private sector in the journey towards green buildings.

Number of words: 640 words

 Resources:

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

Overview. (2016). bcaa.edu.sg. Retrieved from https://www.bcaa.edu.sg/who-we-are/about-us/overview