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Record number of buildings receive eco certification

A record number of buildings received certification for incorporating environmentally friendly features in 2014.

SINGAPORE: A record number of buildings received certification for incorporating environmentally friendly features in 2014.

With this, the Government says it is on track to "green" a majority of the buildings by 2030 -- in a country where the all-year round high temperatures mean that air-conditioning is widespread.

But air-conditioning systems often use up large amounts of energy, and contribute to environmental degradation.

Over at the Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, which is over 30 years old, the management is doing their part to care for the planet.

"Two years ago, the hotel decided to replace its chillers, which are part of the air-conditioning system, with newer ones," said its General Manager, Kevin Bossino. "It's a new model and is more energy-efficient.

"On top of that, it does not release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

The revamp, which included other green initiatives, cost millions -- and has cut the building's energy use by 25 per cent.

While new buildings can comply with green standards the moment they begin construction, older ones must work around current operations and infrastructure.

International Plaza, which is over 40 years old, had to tear down part of a wall (on the 36th floor) to allow more energy-efficient chillers to be hoisted and installed.

"LTA (Land Transport Authority) gave approval to close the Choon Guan Street area, and all the work had to be done overnight into the early hours of the morning," said S Kunalen, Chairman, International Plaza.

And combined with other green initiatives, the overhaul has resulted in savings of $470,000 per year on electricity bills.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has a target of greening 80 per cent of the buildings in Singapore by 2030.

And it is on track; so far some 2,000 new and existing projects already have the Green Mark certification -- making up more than 24 per cent of all buildings here.

To help the remaining buildings, the authority will step in with funding.

"For the smaller buildings, they may have problems raising funds to even pay for the initial capital costs," Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA. "So we have a scheme, where we are tying up with some financial institutions, banks and so on, to help defray part of the costs."

Besides incentives, there are also rules to ensure existing buildings meet the minimum green mark standards. 

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