Understanding Embodied Carbon

The built environment is in a prime position to address the emergency of climate change through the reduction of embodied carbon emissions from our buildings and infrastructure assets. According to the World Green Building Council, decarbonisation of the built environment is one of the most cost effective ways to mitigate climate change. With the global building stock expected to double in order to accommodate the world’s projected population of 10 billion, this growth will contribute to an expected doubling of the global consumption of raw materials by around the middle of the century, significantly increasing the building and construction sector’s emissions and climate impact.

The built environment is responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, with embodied carbon emissions being especially critical. The carbon dioxide equivalent of emissions associated with the full supply chain of all materials and systems put into any built environment project, embodied carbon is different from operational carbon in that the latter can be improved over the lifetime of a building. If embodied carbon emissions are not addressed before the building project moves past the design stage, there is no way for building owners to reclaim lost carbon savings once the building is constructed and subsequently used.

Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront

The breakdown of carbon emissions for buildings is typically 30 percent embodied carbon emissions versus 70 percent for carbon emissions due to building operations. In Singapore, where the lifespans of buildings tend to be shorter due to urban renewal, the embodied carbon emissions of buildings can constitute up to 40 percent of the total carbon emissions over the lifespan of the building. 

The upfront emissions from materials and products used to construct buildings and infrastructure, and those installed later during maintenance and renovation, usually represent a significantly greater source of embodied carbon than all other stages in the lifecycle. Globally, cement and steel are two of the most important sources of material-related emissions in construction. Cement manufacture is responsible for around 7 percent of global carbon emissions, with steel also contributing 7-9 percent of the global total, of which around half can be attributed to buildings and construction.

Reducing Embodied Carbon through Prevention Framework

The WorldGBC has outlined a 4-step framework to reduce embodied carbon emissions through prevention, which is the best way to reduce embodied carbon. These principles can be applied by all stakeholders, regardless of their position in the value chain, the nature of their project or product, and the region they operate in.

Carbon3

1. Prevent
Consider embodied carbon emissions and reduction strategies from the outset, whether for a whole project or for a single product. Question the need to use materials at all, considering alternative strategies for delivering the desired function, such as increasing utilisation of existing assets through renovation or reuse.

2. Reduce & Optimise
Use low carbon design guidance and calculation tools and benchmarks to evaluate each design choice in terms of upfront emission reductions and as part of a whole life approach. 

  • Apply design approaches that minimise the quantity of new material required to deliver the desired function.
  • Prioritise materials which are low or zero carbon, responsibly sourced, and which have low lifecycle impact in other areas, including the health of the occupant, as determined through a product specific environmental product declaration where available
  • Choose low or zero carbon construction techniques having maximum efficiency and minimum waste on site.

3. Futureproof
Consider future use scenarios and end of life, maximising the potential for maintenance, repair and renovation, and ensure flexibility for future adaptation. Design for disassembly and deconstruction to facilitate future reuse, selecting materials which can be recycled and which can be extracted and separated easily for processing.

4. Offset
As a last resort, offset residual embodied carbon emissions either within the project or organisational boundary or through verified offset schemes.

All About Air Conditioning

Have you ever wondered about how air conditioning works, who came up with it, or how anyone was ever inventive enough to control indoor temperature?

Back before indoor cooling was common (we know, hard to think about, nowadays), indoor environments weren’t necessarily any cooler than outdoors. Air movement from fans could help, but life was far less customizable. Having air conditioning in our homes and properties – even having it in stores or restaurants when we go out, today – is one huge piece of society we often take for granted. Movie theaters, for example, became wildly popular during Summer seasons once air conditioning became common, since they provided people a place to come cool off from the heat.

If you’re curious for more, click here to read on to learn all about air conditioning: https://www.appliancedrgj.com/all-about-air-conditioning/

Build our Green Future Together

Did you know that buildings account for over 20% of emissions in Singapore?

Our buildings are an important part of Singapore’s climate change mitigation strategy and can directly contribute to more efficient energy use. This is why it is important for the built environment to be designed, constructed and operated as green and sustainably as possible.

On 31 March 2020, Singapore submitted our Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, building on existing aspirations to halve our emissions from its peak to 33MtCO2e by 2050, with a view to achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century. Having greener, more efficient buildings will help Singapore achieve its climate ambitions. This also ties in with Singapore’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development’s (IMCSD) target of having at least 80% of the buildings’ gross floor area (GFA) in Singapore to be green by 2030. As of March 2020, Singapore has greened more than 40% (~12 million square metres) of the built environment.

BCA and SGBC have worked together to develop the next edition of the SGBMP together with industry stakeholders and the community. The SGBMP captures our collective commitment to pursue more ambitious sustainability standards in our Built Environment and is part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. 

The SGBMP aims to deliver three key targets of “80-80-80 in 2030”.

1) Stepping up the pace to green 80% of our buildings by 2030

The earlier editions of the Green Building Masterplan had set a target of greening 80% of Singapore’s buildings (by gross floor area, GFA) by 2030. As of end 2020, 43% of Singapore’s buildings have been greened.

To step up the greening of buildings, BCA will identify all buildings in the building energy performance data that it publishes, starting with commercial buildings in the second half of 2021. Owners of existing buildings will be able to benchmark their buildings’ energy performance against similar building types and take the necessary steps to improve energy performance.

In order to future-proof our building stock, BCA will also raise the minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings and existing buildings that undergo major retrofit, to be 50% and 40% more energy efficient compared to 2005 levels respectively. This is comparable to the current Green Mark Platinum standards. BCA will also be reviewing the Green Mark scheme to raise the standards accordingly.

2) 80% of new developments by GFA to be Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings from 2030

Since 2006, the public sector has been taking the lead on environmental sustainability by requiring new public sector buildings to attain Green Mark certification, including Green Mark Platinum for new buildings with air-conditioned area exceeding 5,000 sqm.

Under the GreenGov.SG initiative, the Government will take the lead in bringing Super Low Energy buildings into the mainstream. BCA will also be exploring further measures to drive adoption of Super Low Energy buildings in the private sector.

3) Achieving 80% improvement in energy efficiency for best-in-class green buildings by 2030

Today, best-in-class buildings are able to achieve more than 65% improvement in energy efficiency over 2005 levels. BCA aims to raise this figure to 80% by 2030 through the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) programme. Established in 2014, GBIC supports the development and deployment of green building solutions with high potential to be widely adopted. GBIC has supported more than 60 innovative technologies to date, and BCA is looking into enhancing funding support for the programme.

These initiatives will help us transit to a more sustainable, low-carbon Built Environment.

Read the full e-booklet here.

Green Means Go Webinar Series

As part of our Green Means Go Campaign the Singapore Green Building Council will hosted a series of webinars that invites homeowners to learn more about how to build green into their homes whilst making their space more comfortable and productive.

The following webinars have been recorded and provide a great recap of the learnings shared during each webinar session. There’s never been an easier time to build more green into your home!

Green Means Go Comfortable: Get The Most From Your Home

Green homes are good for people and contribute towards creating a more comfortable home. As part of our Green Means Go campaign, the Singapore Green Building Council partnered with Mark Mah from SIDS to share tips on how homeowners can make the most out of your home to maximise comfort.

Green Means Go Prepared: Things I Wish I Knew Before

What makes a green home green? What should I ask my property agent when house-hunting? Is a green home difficult and expensive to achieve? Get the answers to these questions and more at the second Green Means Go webinar, where we hosted speakers from SGBC, SEAA and DBS to show participants what it means to Go Prepared!

Green Means Go Healthy: Building Green with the Right Materials

Do you know that the materials in your home strongly impact the health and wellbeing of your family? For our third webinar, we explored why hazardous substances like VOCs and formaldehyde emitted from building products are extremely harmful to human health, causing serious health complications with prolonged exposure.

Green Means Go Healthy: Creating a Comfortable Living Environment

As we are now kept home for longer periods of time to live, work, play, learn and even heal, how do you create a homely living environment that is green, healthy and efficient to safeguard your family’s wellbeing? In the fourth webinar event, SGBC partnered with Greenlam Asia Pacific and SIDS to provide tips on integrating green practices to improve our wellbeing and live more comfortably.

Green Means Go Go Forward: Exploring the Future of our

As we enter a new age of unprecedented attention to sustainability, it is vital to ensure that the buildings we live in must be buildings we can live with. How will the industry evolve to cater to the rising demand for greener, healthier and more sustainable places and spaces? For the final webinar event, SGBC partnered with Frasers Property and Geberit to give homeowners a glimpse in the future of residential development and water technology, innovations that are already being practiced today for a sustainable and comfortable experience.

Green Building: Improving the lives of billions by helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The following article was first published by the World Green Building Council News & Media. This article was written by Dominika Czerwinska, who is a Director of Membership and Regional Networks at WorldGBC. You can view the original article here.

January 1st 2016 marked a key milestone in our collective efforts to “promote prosperity while protecting the planet” as world leaders agreed, and brought into force, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals set forth a challenge for humanity to decouple economic growth from climate change, poverty and inequality… and this is a challenge that we firmly believe green building can help to solve.

While many might look at a building and see only an inanimate structure, we look at buildings and see both the physicality and the process by which they are created – an opportunity to not only save energy, water and carbon emissions but to educate, create jobs, strengthen communities, improve health and wellbeing, and much, much more. Green building is a true catalyst for addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues.

While the 17 goals are wide ranging, from ending hunger to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, each with detailed targets to be achieved over the next 15 years, there are several goals to which we believe green buildings can, and in fact already have, been contributing to in a significant way.

Goal 3: GOOD HEALTH & WELLBEINGEnsure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

There is now overwhelming evidence which suggests the way a building is designed can affect the health and wellbeing of its occupants. According to the World Health Organization, lung and respiratory diseases associated with poor indoor environment quality are three of the top five leading causes of death. But green building features, such as improved lighting, better air quality and greenery, have been proven to positively impact health and wellbeing, and this agenda has gained increasing momentum over the last few years. Our Better Places for People global project is focused on creating a world in which buildings are not only good for the environment, but also support healthier, happier and more productive lives. And reducing emissions from buildings – particularly in cities – can reduce pollution and improve air quality, benefiting the health of city dwellers.  

Goal 7: AFFORDABLE & CLEAN ENERGY – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use, and energy savings from efficient, green buildings – whether commercial office buildings or homes – are often one of the most talked about benefits. Green buildings also use renewables energy, which can be cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. For example, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) suggests home solar systems in Africa can provide households with electricity for as low as $56 a year – much cheaper than energy from diesel or kerosene. Renewable energy also has the additional benefit of producing no carbon emissions, limiting the impact on the planet. Energy efficiency coupled with local renewable sources also improves energy security.

Goal 8: DECENT WORK & ECONOMIC GROWTH – Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all

As the demand for green building grows globally, so does the workforce required to deliver them, and this is another goal that green building can significantly contribute to. For example, the green building industry in Canada represented nearly 300,000 full-time jobs in 2014. What’s more, the life-cycle of a green building – from conception to construction, operation and even renovation – impacts a wide variety of people, providing even more opportunities for inclusive employment.

And some Green Building Councils such as South Africa have developed ways to integrate more complex socio-economic issues such as unemployment or lack of skills into green building rating systems – creating further incentives for businesses to consider these criteria in their developments.

Goal 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION & INFRASTRUCTURE – Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

Green buildings are not only about the here and now. They must be designed in a way that ensures they are resilient and adaptable in the face of our changing global climate. This is critically important in developing countries, many of which will be particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change. But it’s not just about future proof buildings, but the spaces in between – the infrastructure that must be equally as sustainable and resilient to future risks. A recent report from the New Climate Economy found that US$90 trillion of investment worldwide is needed in the next 15 years in the infrastructure sector to achieve a prosperous, net zero emissions future. And striving for buildings which push the boundaries on sustainability, such as net zero emissions buildings, is also a major driver for innovation and technology.

Goal 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES & COMMUNITIES – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

Almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030, and so ensuring they are sustainable is of paramount importance. Buildings are the foundations of cities, and green buildings are therefore key to their long-term sustainability. Whether it’s homes, offices, schools, shops or green spaces – the built environment contributes to the make-up of communities, which must be sustainable to ensure a high quality of life for all. In fact, in many countries, Green Building Councils have moved beyond the certification of single green buildings and have developed tools that facilitate the formation of green neighborhoods and districts. Others, such as the Philippines GBC, have helped cities like Mandaue to develop and implement policies that promote sustainable building practices across entire cities.

Goal 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION & PRODUCTION – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

This goal focuses on promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services and green jobs. The building industry has a major role to play in preventing waste through reduction, recycling and reuse – ‘circular economy’ principles where resources are not wasted. Our movement includes leading product manufacturers such as Shaw Contract who have developed ways to generate products – in this case carpet – from what was previously considered to be waste, known as the “cradle to cradle” approach. This not only reduces the amount of waste going to landfill but also reduces the amount of raw materials that are being extracted from the earth. Since 2006, Shaw has reclaimed and recycled more than 400 million kilograms of post-consumer carpet.

Goal 13: CLIMATE ACTION – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Buildings are responsible for over 30 per cent of global green house gas emissions, and are therefore a major contributor to climate change. But by the same token, green buildings have huge potential to combat it, offering one of the most cost effective ways to do so, through measures such as energy efficiency. For example, South Africa’s Green Star certified buildings save 336 million kilograms of carbon emissions a year – the same as taking 84,000 cars off the roads – helping to limit the effects of climate change.

Goal 15: LIFE ON LAND – Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

The materials that make up a building are key to determining its sustainability. And so the building industry and its supply chains have a major role to play in using responsibly sourced materials such as timber. Green building certification tools also recognise the need to reduce water use, and the value of biodiversity and the importance of ensuring it is protected, and incorporate this into the space they build on both during and after construction – minimising damage and designing ways to enhance biodiversity, such as through landscaping with local flora.

Goal 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS – Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Historically, the building industry has lacked a collective voice on the world stage at major climate change conferences and has often not been recognised for the huge opportunities it presents. In 2015, a significant milestone was achieved when WorldGBC, UNEP, the French government and several other organisations came together to host the first ever “Buildings Day” as part of the official COP21 agenda and to launch the Global Alliance for Building and Construction. A year and a half on, and our movement is already seeing the benefits of having a seat at the table. Strong new partnerships such as those with the World Resources Institute and the Global Environmental Facility have been secured, increasing our capacity to drive change and ensure that we are all building on one another’s strengths rather than re-inventing the wheel. Our movement has long recognised that the barriers to a sustainable built environment are not technical solutions but rather how we effectively collaborate, ensuring our collective efforts are truly aligned to achieve much greater impact.  

When it comes to the remaining SDGs, direct links between them and green buildings may be less explicit, but that’s not to say they don’t exist at all.

For example, there are a number of educational opportunities created through the process of creating green buildings – the training of professionals in sustainability issues or green building techniques – and by our individual Green Building Councils through their own educational programmes. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has recognised this opportunity by partnering with Green Building Councils, for example in Zambia, to deliver local green jobs programmes. And responsible businesses and organisations working in and around the building and construction industry are helping to breakdown sexism and promote gender equality in the green building workplace. Nearly 50 per cent of our Established Green Building Councils are led by women, and C40 Cities’ Women4Climate initiative is also highlighting the role women are playing on climate action. 

In Australia, as the Green Star certification scheme is revised, the Green Building Council of Australia is looking towards assisting building developers and owners to report on specific criteria against 16 of the 17 SDGs – demonstrating just how relevant they are to our industry.

For all of these reasons, we believe that the green building movement will mean significant progress in decoupling economic growth from climate change, poverty and inequality, helping to achieve the goals and creating a greener world that we can all be proud to call home.

The Knock-On Effect of a Greener Mindset

The past few years have been stressful for many Singaporeans, especially those that have recently just purchased or moved into their new home. With the ongoing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic more individuals are looking to adopt a more mindful approach to their daily routine.

But did you know that adopting greener home practices for your home can promote your mindfulness? Here are some ways building green into your home can benefit your pursuit for living a balanced, mindful life.

Finding Peace from Plants

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

Looking after plants can be a healthy and positive way to help decompress your cognition maintain your mental wellbeing. In fact they’re helpful for our senior to promotive brain function and prevent dementia. Gardening can be a great intervention for mental health, and can help reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression.

Improving Ventilation for your Breathing

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

Improving ventilation is an effortless way of applying greener practices for your home. Not only does this improve your own physical wellbeing, but ventilation also has a role in improving your breathing. That’s because breathing exercises is one of the most effective ways to adopt a mindful lifestyle, as it helps reduce stress and experienced anxiety.

By improving ventilation for your home, you’re not only protecting your family from unwanted viruses and pollutants, but you’re also improving your capacity to breathe more effectively and overcome mental difficulties.

Soundproofing Distractions

Sound plays a significant role in our mindfulness; they shape our ability to not only concentrate but meditate in our home environments

Using sustainable soundproofing materials are an effective way of not only making your home greener and more sustainable, but also fostering a great space for you to stay relaxed and productive. In fact, studies have shown that making effective acoustic sound adjustments to open office environments, improves productivity and mental wellbeing.

As more Singaporeans continue to do flexible working arrangements, investing in soundproofing materials for your office setup.

Green Means Go Healthy

Building green into your home isn’t just about the novelty of championing sustainability, it’s also making an active step in making your home comfortable and healthy for the residents.

For more information, visit the SGBC Product Directory to learn more about certified green products and materials to help build green into your home.

Green In Our Homes and Lives

Renovation planning – all too often, we are consumed by a focus on price and aesthetics. Today, however, we have so many options that allow us to build green into our homes – beautifully and affordably. Bearing in mind that beyond a positively greener footprint, these sustainable choices often bring value in terms of improved home comfort, health and the longer-term maintainability of our homes.

We have the capacity to think more critically about the materials we choose to bring into our homes, what they are made of and where they come from, and below are some ideas to help get us started!

Ground Up

A consideration during renovation – whether its for a new BTO, or to breathe life into an older home, is flooring. The materials we choose have a huge influence on the way our home can look and feel. Whether it’s tiles or wood that you are looking at, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Tiles: Tiles are a great consideration that can mimic the look of wood, marble and other stones; but importantly many tiles today, are made of recycled materials and they can themselves eventually be recycled.

Wood: Whether as an indoor feature, outdoor flooring or even as feature claddings, wood ensures as a luxurious and distinctive material. With options such as reclaimed wood, engineered wood, and sustainably sourced woods available, we have every opportunity to make more sustainable choices.

Cork: Who knew that cork makes for excellent flooring. Sustainably harvested, cork is a renewable material that comes from the bark of trees; this means that rather than felling trees, only a portion of the bark is taken, and the trees themselves produce new layers for subsequent use. Cork also is a great sound absorber, it provides cushioning underfoot, and it’s mould and mildew resistant making for a beautiful and comfortable flooring to boot.

Divide and Conquer

Walls and partitions help define the spaces within our homes, they establish separation and create the functional and private environments that we are familiar with.

Dry walls: Constructed of sustainable products such as plasterboards or fibre cement boards, innovations and improvements mean that the dry walls of today are far superior to what they used to be. They provide good acoustic and thermal insulation, and boast natural resistance to fire and the damp.

Rather than conventional brick and wet plastering, dry walls are easy to install, reduce the need for noisy hacking, and allow for easy onsite reconstruction. With smooth surfaces, they are quick to set up and ready for paint once installed.

As we look to soften and cover raw walls and ceilings, we look to a range of applications that transform white walls into vibrant, calming, engaging, textured or colourful surfaces.

Paints: While we’ve taken tremendous steps forward from older lead-based paints, it is important to bear in mind that to date, there are paint options that can actually be harmful to ourselves and families. Many paints still produce harmful VOC emissions that negatively impact both the environment and our health – triggering issues such as headaches, nausea, conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, skin, irritation, dizziness, occupational asthma and the likes.

The same is true for many lacquers and thinners which often coat our furniture – these sealants often off gas harmful VOC emissions months after they have been applied.

Today, there are a range of low to no VOC paints, and water-based sealants that we should be pursuing to both our health and peace-of-mind, even as we look to beautifying our spaces.

Everyday Consumables

Lastly, we look at the everyday things we bring into our homes post renovation, as the living kicks in. From our dish washing detergents to our laundry detergents and many of the household cleaners we bring into our homes contain polluting materials either inherently or in their production.

  • – Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products;
  • – Air fresheners
  • – Chlorine bleach
  • – Detergent and dishwashing liquid
  • – Dry cleaning chemicals
  • – Carpet and upholstery cleaners
  • – Furniture and floor polish
  • – Oven cleaners

From over the counter, to home-made and organic solutions, today’s homeowners and future homeowners have access to a range of green and plant-based cleaner options that are great for the environment and better for our homes. An excellent starting point would be to pay attention to some of the eco labels and certifications that are widely available here in Singapore.

Green Means Go Natural

While it may not be feasible to eliminate all harmful materials from the home environment, the range of options that we have today, means that it is completely possible to reduce our dependency on products and consumables that are harmful. Look out for green products and offerings for your home use, and explore directories of green product manufacturers, service providers and retailers available in Singapore.

Green Means Go Deeper

We are at a point in our collective green consciousness where we can look past the more typical messages of ‘choosing LED lightbulbs’ and buying ‘green-ticked appliances’ and start to explore more critically how we can actively make better green choices as we renovate, furnish and live in our homes. In this article we review some of the more common Green Home messages and look more critically at how we can take a step further.

What’s wrong with Choosing LED lightbulbs?

Absolutely nothing – there isn’t anything wrong with LED lightbulbs, it is established that these diode-using, power-reducing marvels use much less energy than the older incandescent light bulbs. In fact these lightbulbs have become so widely accepted that a homeowner would be hard pressed to find the older incandescent ones – so does the message of ‘Choose LED Lightbulbs’, really add value today? In a market where almost every lightbulb is LED, the better question might be – how much light do we need?

Working on your home lighting plans, whether on your own or with an interior designer, it is easy to over specify the amount light that you think you need. Mood lighting, main lighting, mirror lighting, entranceway lighting, cupboard lighting often takes over from the more fundamental adequate lighting. The act of identifying how much light we need for our homes, shapes not only how much lighting energy we consume, it influences the levels of comfort that we experience in the difference spaces of our homes.

Looking Past the Green Ticks

As consumers cotton on to the importance of choosing appliances that reduce energy, manufacturers similarly have been working hard to provide us with what we want. From fridges, to air-conditioners, washing-machines to water heaters and even the kettle, our everyday electronics are getting better at reducing the amount of energy that they need to do what they do. This can create an insidious and false sense of, ‘I’ve done my part by buying green ticks…’.

The more complex reality of buying green ticked appliances come to the fore when we consider how we use and maintain these powerful appliances. Leaving the water heater on longer than you need it for, flipping on a 2 litre kettle for single cup of coffee, winterising your home by setting the air-con to sub 20 degrees Celsius, are all indulgences that counteract any meaningful value those green ticks provide. An air conditioner that is 12 months past its maintenance period, will not perform as well or efficiently as it was intended to. The green ticks are huge step forward, but they are only the first step in a much longer home-journey with our appliances.

More on Recycling?

The importance of recycling cannot be overstated; in this instance we are simply asking the question of how? Asking people to recycle more is vague, and can often lead to sporadic periods of activity followed by a reversion to the old ways of mixing the trash. As we think about our homes, we should consider recycling as a process and a daily activity. In the same way we think about dedicated spaces for our washing machines, why not incorporate recycling spaces into our homes?

Creating actual spaces – albeit small, can trigger longer-term behaviour, and it acts as a signal for all in the household to participate. Educating ourselves on the processes also helps improve that the way we separate out our recycling, and ensures that more of what we recycle actually gets recycled!

Green Means Go Forward

Today, we are surrounded by greener products, innovation and possibilities, but we need to look beyond face value and find our own ways of taking action. As a country and a community, we’ve come along way in terms of cultivating better and greener practices, and we are at a tipping point where we have the capacity to think about the actions we take in building green into our home.

Smarter Approaches to Greener Homes

One of the simpler ways of maintaining a green home is to be more conscious of how your home consumes energy.

As homeowners, we’ve always continued to monitor and track how we utilise our electricity for our own home. But the growth of accessible consumer technology has allowed homeowners to have more control over how we spend and consume our electrical appliances. It’s not just about figuring out your electric bills anymore – it’s also about understanding your own energy consumption and finding opportunities to become more efficient and sustainable.

Here are a few ways you can go smart with the way you consume energy for your home.

#1 Mobile Energy Applications

Energy providers are becoming more technology savvy and are releasing mobile applications for consumers to download to track their energy and water usage. Having access to real-time information on energy usage provides us immediate feedback to change our energy consumption. Regularly checking ahead of your billing is an uncomplicated way to make your home greener and more efficient.

Mobile app provides real-time information on energy usage, housed within a safe platform tied to your credentials. For example, providers such as Senoko and SP have designated apps that are available on the App Store to monitor your utility usage.

#2 Smart Plugs and Bulbs

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

Creating automatic routines and switches not only makes your energy consumption more efficient, but your home lets you be more comfortable. This is done by installing smart plugs and bulbs which turn can turn your home to become an efficient ecosystem.

Simple plugs can be added on to make regular appliances such as kitchenware, lights, and electronic devices connected to your home Wifi and the internet. They also allow you to remotely turn on/off your appliances and set routines based on your lifestyle and room environment.

Smart bulbs are bulbs with a built-in Wifi receive to connect your lamp to the internet. When connected to internet, they help monitor your watt usage but also set specific routines based on your home usage and profile.

#3 Smart Home Assistants

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

As homeowners, smart home assistants make it even easier for you to go smart with your home and take on greener actions by consuming efficient energy.These Internet connected devices can assist you with simple tasks through connected devices and systems.

Smart Home Assistants are best used with smart devices such as plugs and bulbs to make it easier for you to set routines and devices on/off through voice activation. They complete the entire system and allow you to have full remote and automated acccess in how you use and manage your electrical appliances.

There are a wide variety of ways to go smart with your home and make greener actions to make your home comfortable and sustainable. Using technologies such as internet devices and mobile apps provide enough feedback for us to learn how to consume energy more effectively, and more efficiently.

To learn more about smart systems and other products to make your Green Home, visit our Build Green In Home Planner. You can also visit the SGBC Directory to see other green-certified items that can make your home more green, and more comfortable.

10 Tips to Greenify Your Home

A green home is as much about the environment as it is about your family’s health and wellbeing: a green home reduces or eliminates negative impacts on the environment and health of those living there and create positive impacts.  

There are many ways to build green into your home, such as using sustainable, non-toxic materials or maximising the natural resources around your home such as daylight and natural ventilation or using technology in a way to cultivate eco-friendly habits.  

Here are ten tips to help you embark on your own green renovation journey. 

#1 Use renovation materials that are certified green. 

High impact, high volume materials such as paint, flooring, coatings, laminates and wall coverings can contain high levels of toxic substances like VOCs and formaldehyde, which are harmful to human health with prolonged exposure.  

Ensure that these materials have a valid green building product certification, such as the one issued by the Singapore Green Building Council

#2 Use of green walls or greenery to purify indoor air. 

Indoor plants not only enliven the interior of the home, they also act as natural air purifies to improve indoor air quality. Certain species of plants such as the peace lily, spider lily, golden pothos, Chinese evergreen and snake plant particularly excel at cleaning indoor air. 

#3 Use energy-efficient LED lighting. 

Every home will undoubtedly make use of lighting. Ensure that all lighting used in the home are LEDs that last far longer than halogen-based lighting and consume lesser energy to operate. 

#4 Set up task lighting to optimise usage. 

Do you really need to switch on all the lights if you are just occupying a small corner of the home as your work-from-home station? Considering using dedicated task lighting for your WFH area or home-based learning setups! 

#5 Make use of smart lighting or smart home management systems to optimise consumption. 

Knowing how your household uses lighting and other electronics can help to optimise usage patterns and lower utility bills in the long run. Pair suitable devices to a smart home management system to help reduce energy wastage. 

#6 Use solar film or blinds to regulate glare control and reduce heat penetration. 

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

In sunny Singapore, window film, blinds and curtains are must-haves. Certain types of window film reduce both visible light and heat, helping to cool the interior of the home.  

#7 Use ceiling fans to ventilate the home. 

Instead of using air-conditioning systems to cool and ventilate the home, consider installing a ceiling fan to help regulate airflow indoors for greater comfort. 

#8 Ensure that electronic appliances such as air-conditioning systems are rated 5-ticks. 

Air-conditioning systems consume the most amount of energy in any home, which is why it is important to ensure that the most efficient ones are used to generate the best possible cost savings. Look out for the 5-ticks badge under the Energy Labelling Scheme managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). 

#9 Install solar panels or solar heaters. 

Featured image from Singapore’s Greenest Home Town Challenge, uploaded by a fellow Singaporean homeowner.

Where feasible, having solar panels can help to power low-consumption household devices, such as irrigation systems for houseplants or even to charge your smartphone. Solar thermal hybrid air-conditioning systems which harness solar energy and ambient heat throughout the day are also available to homeowners. 

#10 Switch to a green electricity retailer. 

Signal your commitment to environmental sustainability by opting for green electricity offered by some of Singapore’s electricity retailers. Going green for electricity does not cost significantly more and will also help you to do your part in supporting carbon-neutral energy generation. 

Now that you know how to build green in, make your green home a reality with special financing rates under the DBS Green Renovation Loan. Incorporate at least 3 of the above ideas in your makeover and enjoy an interest rate of 3.68% p.a. (EIR 4.42% p.a.). Whether it’s an existing or new home, the DBS Green Renovation Loan promises to make sustainable living effortless and wallet friendly. Live sustainably and save more today! 

How to Apply:

  1. 1. Visit the DBS Renovation Loan webpage and go to the “How to Apply” section.
  2. 2. Under the “Green Renovation Checklist” section in the application form, select at least 3 out of the 10 items that are applicable to you.
  3. 3. Check that all required documents in the checklist are in order. 
  4. 4. Submit your renovation loan application online via our digibot.

Terms and conditions apply. 

Green Home, Healthy Home, Happy Home

No longer just the concern of global conglomerates and boardroom executives, sustainability has found its way into general society, interweaving into many aspects of our daily lives. With the Government’s clear onus on going green with the launch of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Singapore Green Building Masterplan, sustainability is here to stay.

While the concept of green buildings is quite far removed from the regular man-on-the-street, it is actually pretty well established in Singapore through the Green Mark Scheme administered by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Essentially the country’s very own green building evaluation and rating tool, the Green Mark Scheme was launched in 2005 and has since certified more than 40 percent of Singapore’s built environment, with the goal to green 80 percent of the gross floor area by 2030. Examples of green buildings include the gleaming skyscrapers dotting the Central Business District, most large shopping malls, high-rise condominiums and even community centres. These buildings have been designed, constructed and maintained with sustainability in mind, employing green building features and technology to reduce their impact on the natural environment while improving the comfort of its occupants.

You may think that going green is best left to the property developers or government agencies as it requires substantial capital investment. While this is somewhat true, individual homeowners do also have the power to build green into their own abodes that will not break the bank. As with all renovation projects, the extent of works to be done is entirely contingent on the homeowner’s preferences and budget, but there are some areas of implementation that can be adopted across the board.

Most Housing & Development Board (HDB) Build To Order (BTO) projects feature eco-friendly features. Key building materials used in the construction of the blocks like paint and concrete are usually eco-friendly variants, and newer BTO estates also come with rooftop gardens, motion-sensing corridor LEDs, water-saving pedestals in the bathrooms and even dedicated chutes for recyclables. Homeowners can build on this base to enhance the liveability and eco-friendliness of their individual units.

Case Study

As featured in the news, more homeowners are choosing eco-friendly materials for renovation works, such as this fairly standard 5-room BTO unit located in the relatively new housing estate of Canberra which was done up as green as possible. The 111-sqm unit is located on the 12th floor and facing a southeasterly direction with plenty of natural daylight thanks to a largely unobstructed view of the Sungei Simpang Kiri area which offers rich vegetation and scenic views.

Bringing the Outdoors In

The interior design theme of this home was fairly simple: enhance and amplify whatever was already in the house to create a green home. In order to maximise the floor space of the unit, large open spaces with minimal partitions were incorporated into the home’s design to promote a sense of spaciousness and roominess that is quite uncharacteristic of modern BTOs. This design philosophy also builds on the plentiful cross-ventilation and abundance of natural daylight present in the unit to let the outdoors in, taking advantage of the high floor to accord generous biophilic views of the outside.

Semi-opaque blinds were installed in the bedrooms as a glare control strategy and regulate sunlight access, while a liquid-applied solar coating was installed to all windows to reduce ultraviolent penetration and help to lower interior temperature by up to 2 degrees Celsius. The solar coating’s anti-UV properties also serve to protect and prolong the longevity of the wooden furniture in the home, which have been produced with an emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Work from home stations are deliberately situated beside open windows overlooking the forested expanse to improve occupant circadian rhythm, boost productivity and also serve as a reservoir of respite for tired eyes to take a break in between emails. Open windows also provide ample ventilation supplemented by standing fans. While an air-conditioning system (5-ticks Energy Label) is installed in the home, it is rarely used as the home’s deliberate design funnels wind into the “main corridor” of the home to be distributed to the bedrooms.

An Emphasis on Healthy Materials

One of the most important considerations for the home renovation project is the use of building materials certified for environmental performance. With the ongoing pandemic making working from home a longer-term arrangement than previously envisioned, the materials that go into any home is more important than ever before. Breathing in toxic emissions and substances released from building materials will affect the human body’s ability to fight off disease; it is therefore crucial to ensure that the materials used in homes are healthy from the beginning as making changes would incur a significant financial commitment and effort to undo or redo.

Certain renovation materials are pivotal to any home renovation project but do not have any eco-friendly variants due to the nature of the product, such as glue. It is therefore important to ensure that all other materials used are green-certified versions to help offset the emissions from the products that cannot be feasibly greened. While emissions will nevertheless still be present, they will be easier to manage, and the home’s emissions levels will be far lower than if no certified variants were used in the first place.

Where possible and feasible, all building materials used in the home’s renovation bear eco-friendly credentials, primarily the Singapore Green Building Product (SGBP) certification. The SGBP scheme is regarded as one of the key standards and benchmarks for green building products in the building and construction industry. As such, the SGBP is well recognised under the Green Mark Scheme, Singapore’s national green building rating tool administered by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). As one of the primary mandates of the Singapore Green Building Council, the SGBP is built upon the collective knowledge and expertise of the building and construction industry. Adhering to the ISO 14024 Type I Environmental Labelling Programme, the SGBP’s framework is founded on sound scientific and engineering principles and encompasses a vast range of building products.

Building products are assessed on their environmental properties and performance through a comprehensive list of assessment criteria covering the five key areas of Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Resource Efficiency, Health & Environmental Protection and Other Green Features. This rating level differentiates the environmental and sustainability performance of the certified product, a testament of the product’s environmental commitment.

In the home, all high-impact materials such as interior paint, floor screed and carpentry laminates bear the highest possible SGBP ✓✓✓✓ certification, which means that these materials have been assessed to have very, very low levels of toxic substances and emissions such as VOCs and formaldehyde, which are harmful to human health if breathed in for long periods of time.

The following is the list of building materials used in the home that possess an eco-friendly certification:

  1. – Floor Screed
  2. – Tile Adhesive
  3. – Tile Grout
  4. – Vinyl Flooring
  5. – Paint Primer & Paint Sealer
  1. – Interior Wall Paint
  2. – Interior Ceiling Paint
  3. – Solar Window Coating
  4. – Quartz Countertop
  5. – Carpentry Laminate

Other Green Features

Energy efficient LED lighting fixtures supplemented by motion-sensing lighting (powered by rechargeable batteries) to reduce use of main lights at night are used in the home to conserve energy. Complemented with a household energy saving policy, the home’s electricity consumption averages 123 kWh per month, significantly lower than the neighbour average. According to the BCA’s Tropical Home Energy Efficiency Assessment (THEEA) tool, the home is considered energy efficient, with the predicted electrical consumption 22.1 percent less than the national average for 5-room flats.

The home also utilises a carbon-neutral electricity supply offered by an electricity retailer, which has helped to generate certified carbon offsets of 761.47 kg over a period of 6 months. This is roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions generated from charging a smartphone 97, 112 times.

All sanitary fittings and washing machine installed in the house bear at least a 3-tick rating under the Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS). The communal showerhead is also fitted with a water-saving thimble to regulate and reduce the amount of water wasted. Eco-pedestals provided by HDB allow for hands to be washed when the toilet is flushed, further contributing to water efficiency.

To help monitor indoor environment quality (IEQ), a best-in-class residential environment monitor is used to track nine different IEQ parameters in real-time. The data is used to effect immediate remedy action to enhance health and wellbeing of the home’s occupants. For instance, an air purifier will be deployed in the presence of high dust levels while a dehumidifier will be used to lower humidity levels for comfort. Indoor house plants such as a peace lily are also used to help remove formaldehyde and enhance general IAQ in the living room. Due to the emphasis on healthy building materials, the home’s IEQ performance is well within recommended guidelines:

The home’s materials are also geared towards easy cleaning and maintainability. A weekly light cleaning routine of vacuuming and mopping is sufficient to keep the home neat, tidy and healthy, with an automatic robot cleaner fitted with a HEPA air filter used to supplement housekeeping efforts.

Green Means Go

Most common renovation materials regularly used by interior designers and contractors – such as standard wall paint – typically already have some form of green certification. There will of course be small price premiums for products that go beyond their core functions or possess special attributes to further improve indoor environment quality, such as VOC abatement or air-purification properties.

However, home renovation is an intensely personal decision, and the lengths people are willing to go to for their perfect home varies from homeowner to homeowner, which will of course increase renovation costs correspondingly. Going green for home renovation allows you to contribute to climate change mitigation in your own small way. As most green certifications look at a product’s whole lifecycle impact from manufacturing to end-of-life, we are vindicating green solutions providers for their efforts in creating truly sustainable products by specifying and using only products with valid green credentials. This will also help to incentivise further research and development to derive even greener materials in the long run.

However, undergoing green renovation is as much about doing your part for the environment as it is about investing in your household’s health and wellbeing. The toll taken on family members through frequent trips to the clinic due to easily-minimised respiratory ailments can add up quite substantially, especially if you have family members who are more susceptible to changes in indoor air quality. With the necessary resources readily available, you will also be able to build green in.

Enriching Lives, Building Communities, Growing Sustainably

Committed to enriching lives, building communities and growing sustainably, CapitaLand continues to create quality spaces for work, live and play in the communities in which it operates, through sustainable and innovative solutions.

The following is part of a series of articles showcasing the sustainability actions and buildings developed by CapitaLand. You can also learn more about their sustainability journey and 2030 Sustainability Master Plan.

CanningHill Piers

CanningHill Piers is the newest luxury residence located between the historic Fort Canning Hill and the iconic Singapore River. Sustainability features have been embedded within the development’s design to provide comfortable residential and vibrant community spaces.

The design scheme comprises four towers of different heights – a pair of diagonally-facing residential towers and one tower each for the hotel and serviced residence – set atop a double-storey commercial podium. This is done through optimising building massing and maximising naturally ventilated podium spaces within the development. The massing of the four towers provides self-shading to the internal façade of each tower, reducing direct sunlight into its internal courtyard and podium space, creating a comfortable shaded environment.

CanningHill Piers has a porous design for air movement throughout the development. Openings between the towers encourage prevailing winds to effectively pass through the outdoor podium areas for outdoor comfort, while exhaust vents are strategically located towards the north and south corners of the development.

Rain gardens harvest rainwater for landscape irrigation, and extensive greenery will be planted to mitigate heat buildup in public spaces. These features reduce heat absorption, providing a cooler environment.

Sengkang Grand Residences

Sengkang Grand Residences offers an array of green features. The development achieved the Building and Construction Authority Green Mark GoldPLUS award for its energy-efficient design and water-efficient features. The orientation of the residential blocks provides good natural ventilation in units and common areas. The apartments also come with deep recessed balconies, providing shading to internal living spaces. The façade of Sengkang Grand Residences is based on a passive cool design architecture, and installed with good performance glazing to reduce solar heat gain. Water-efficient sanitary fittings are incorporated in all residential units, while water-efficient auto-irrigation systems will be used for major landscape areas.

Environmentally friendly and sustainable materials certified by the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme are extensively used in constructing Sengkang Grand Residences. To ensure healthy indoor air quality, low volatile organic compound paints for internal walls are used. To promote a healthy lifestyle for residents, bicycle parking lots and end-of-trip facilities will be available, encouraging the use of green transport.

lyf one-north Singapore

The newly opened lyf one-north Singapore is located in Singapore’s research and innovation business hub. The 324-unit coliving property, which achieved the Building and Construction Authority Green Mark GoldPLUS award in 2020, is fitted with green, energy-efficient and smart building features. These include an energy monitoring system, dual-technology motion sensors and light-emitting diode light fixtures which can achieve energy savings of over 30%. The energy monitoring system and motion sensors track and automatically optimise the level of energy consumption depending on the number of occupants in the apartment.

The property also features sun-shading fins as part of its unique window design to reduce façade solar heat gain. Greenery is integrated into its social spaces. The lush planting within the property’s plaza spaces allow natural shading, creating a thermally comfortable environment for outdoor activities.

To reduce energy consumption, the building is served by energy-efficient centralised hot water heat pump system and a variable refrigerant flow air-conditioning system. Water consumption is optimised by the use of water efficient rated fittings.

Work, Live and Play at Funan

The following is part of a series of articles showcasing the sustainability actions and buildings developed by CapitaLand. You can also learn more about their sustainability journey and 2030 Sustainability Master Plan.

Redeveloped and opened in June 2019, Funan comprises a six-storey retail component, two office blocks and coliving property lyf Funan Singapore. The Building and Construction Authority Green Mark GoldPLUS integrated development also received Universal Design Mark GoldPLUS, Urban Land Institute (ULI) 2021 Global Awards for Excellence and ULI 2020 Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence.

Located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic and Cultural District, Funan integrates technology and new innovations to minimise energy and water consumption. Design features include an energy-efficient façade that minimises solar heat transmission, as well as a seven-storey green wall irrigated by harvested rainwater. With its innovative water fittings and indigenous plants, Funan saves approximately 12.8 million litres of water per year.

Funan is the first retail mall in Singapore to use a next-generation refrigerant to minimise energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emission. It uses chillers with low global warming potential refrigerant which emits lower greenhouse gas emissions and helps achieve energy savings.

Within the development, the retail common areas and office lobbies as well as lyf Funan Singapore’s front of house are fully fitted with energy-efficient LED lights. These lights are controlled by an intelligent scene control system, which adjusts the luminosity of the LEDs according to the brightness of the environment. Funan also uses regenerative lifts, which can deliver up to 18% of energy savings compared to non-regenerative lifts.

As an open and inviting space for visitors to shop and engage in lifestyle activities, Funan offers plenty of green spaces, rest areas and interactive corners that encourage discovery and community experiences. To promote community health and well-being, Funan has the largest roof-top garden and urban farm in the city at 18,000 square feet and 5,000 square feet respectively. These spaces allow visitors to learn how vegetables are produced and harvested, while the organic produce is served up at Noka, Spa Esprit’s first Japanese restaurant, which is next to the urban farm.

To support the nation’s car-lite movement and to serve the office community in and around Funan who cycles to work, Funan has a dedicated Bicycle Hub of over 170 bicycle bays with end-of-trip amenities. Fast-charge stations for electric vehicles are also available at the mall.

Providing added convenience and enhanced experience for shoppers, Funan’s smart features include smart lighting and smart carparking such as reservation of lots. Access to office gantries and flexible leasing spaces uses smart facial recognition.

All levels are accessible via a handicap accessible lift. Accessible parking lots and family parking lots are close to the lift lobbies for easy reach by users. There are also braille indicators on staircase handrails and child-height handrails at certain areas of the development. The office blocks feature a naturally ventilated staircase which links all office levels, encouraging an active lifestyle at the workplace and less reliance on elevators.

Communal and collaborative habitats such as lyf Funan Singapore, coworking spaces and lounges, event and social spaces, and rooftop gardens encourage social interaction within a commercial development.

Funan is also recognised for its architectural and design excellence with the BCI Asia Interior Design Award in 2019. It was conferred the Mixed-use Architecture (Singapore) award at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2018-2019, and the Best Mixed-use Development Bronze award at the MIPIM Asia Awards 2019.

CapitaSpring: The Office of the Future

The following is part of a series of articles showcasing the sustainability actions and buildings developed by CapitaLand. You can also learn more about their sustainability journey and 2030 Sustainability Master Plan.

The upcoming 51-storey CapitaSpring is one of the tallest and greenest buildings in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District, offering work, live and play spaces in a vertically connected environment. The integrated development has also been accorded BCA Green Mark Platinum and Universal Design Mark GoldPLUS.

While work norms are rapidly evolving due to the pandemic, CapitaSpring is already at the forefront of the future of work with its fully integrated core-flex solutions, tech-enabled frictionless user experience and community-centric programming. These forward-looking features of CapitaSpring have strengthened the development’s value proposition as a flexible, sustainable, and connected workplace ecosystem.

Core-flex workspace solutions

CapitaSpring offers fully integrated workspace solutions that include the full range of hot desks, meeting facilities, private offices, large enterprise suites and bare shell leases. Conventional office tenants that require flexible working arrangements will have those needs met, while small- to medium-sized companies currently in flexible spaces will have the option to lease conventional workspaces as they expand. The flexibility of coworking spaces by The Work Project also offers customers an attractive alternative to working from home.

Tech-integrated serviced residence

At Citadines Raffles Place Singapore located within CapitaSpring, guests who are members of Ascott’s loyalty programme, Ascott Star Rewards (ASR), can make use of the Discover ASR mobile app for a range of contactless services including customising their stay by sharing their pre-arrival and in-stay requests; performing self check-in and check-out, making contactless payments, managing and redeeming ASR points, and earning ASR points if they opt out of housekeeping service as part of Ascott’s sustainability efforts. ASR members can also use the mobile app to search for special deals and book their stay at about 200 participating properties in over 25 countries and more than 85 cities.

Building features and technologies to enhance workplace wellness

CapitaSpring deploys various building features to safeguard the health and safety of its occupants and the community. Facial recognition access, contactless destination control system and pre-registration for guests via [email protected] all serve to minimise contact. An ultraviolet germicidal irradiation system and high-efficiency filters equivalent to a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 14, have been fitted on air handling units to improve indoor air quality. CapitaSpring has also rolled out a long-range wide area network backbone network to enable fuss-free deployment of Internet of Things sensors across the integrated development. Fully automated smart cleaning robots are integrated with the lift system, allowing the robots to enter, exit turnstiles and transit between floors.

The name “CapitaSpring” is inspired by the Green Oasis, a four-storey high botanical promenade between the Grade A office floors and the modern Citadines Raffles Place Singapore serviced apartment to be managed by CapitaLand’s lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott). Embodying a connection with nature for urban dwellers in the heart of Singapore’s downtown core, the Green Oasis is the central social space for placemaking and community activities as well as a city-defining architectural feature at a breathtaking 100 metres above ground.

Community events such as fitness sessions and lunchtime performances can be held at the City Room on Level 1, which blends into a 12,500 square feet public park. Occupants can also look forward to a café, amphitheatre, yoga alcove, jungle gym, ideation nests, work pods, meeting and activity spaces connected by a spiral stairway at the Green Oasis. CapitaSpring is also home to Singapore’s tallest urban farm and the world’s highest farm-to-plate restaurant and social bar on Level 51. In support of the sustainable transport vision in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a cycling path, 165 bicycle lots and comprehensive end-of-trip facilities are included in the development.

Technologies to allow users to work anywhere within CapitaSpring

CapitaSpring is designed to allow users to work anywhere within. Equipped with the latest WiFi 6 technology across the entire development, and ample power points, users can plug-and-work at the City Room (Level 1), Green Oasis (Levels 17 to 20) and Sky Garden (Level 51).

In addition, tenants can easily book flexible amenities via the [email protected] app. These amenities extend beyond Levels 21, 39 and 40 to include the Amphitheatre and Yoga Alcove (Level 18), multi-purpose hall and meeting rooms (Level 20), and the Sky Cube (Level 51). Via the app, meeting hosts can also invite external partners to pre-register before their appointment at CapitaSpring. Pre-registered guests will receive a QR code via email which can be scanned at the turnstiles, allowing seamless and direct access to tenants’ offices. From entry to exit, tenants and guests enjoy frictionless access with facial recognition turnstiles integrated with destination-controlled lift systems.

Connecting with Nature at One Pearl Bank

The following is part of a series of articles showcasing the sustainability actions and buildings developed by CapitaLand. You can also learn more about their sustainability journey and 2030 Sustainability Master Plan.

With its biophilic design and wide range of lifestyle offerings, One Pearl Bank embodies the vision of CapitaLand’s future residential developments with flexible spaces for work, recreation, and relaxation. These elements are increasingly being appreciated as homeowners spend more time at home and look forward to these lifestyle features at their doorstep.

One Pearl Bank features the world’s first vertical sky allotment gardens in a residential development. With a total of 18 sky allotment gardens offering close to 200 plots, residents can grow their own herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The sky allotment gardens provide residents with the space to enjoy some tranquility after a day of working indoors and promote community bonding too. Visible from the city centre, the sky allotment gardens make a powerful visual statement on One Pearl Bank’s biophilic design that integrates nature to enrich residents’ quality of life.

Residents can head to the Sky Oculus on Level 39 to take in the panoramic views of the city along a scenic walking trail or work out at the indoor and outdoor gyms. They can also go for a stroll, do yoga or appreciate the outdoor spaces within the Sky Terraces on the 14th and 18th floors.

The residential development has extensive landscaping with a green plot ratio of 13, and is designed to achieve the National Parks Board’s Landscape Excellence Assessment Framework and Public Utilities Board’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme certification. Over 500 trees across 35 species and more than 135,000 shrubs, plants and flowers will be planted throughout One Pearl Bank, occupying over 60,000 square feet of space – equivalent to 75% of the total site area.

Designed to take full advantage of Pearl’s Hill’s sloped topography, the two towers of One Pearl Bank are lifted 21 metres from the ground to allow a visual continuous flow from the greenery of Pearl’s Hill City Park to the upcoming green connector to Fort Canning Park.

Residents can also enjoy daily interactions with nature, via a landscaped path connecting the development to the adjacent Pearl’s Hill City Park, near Outram MRT station. The seamless integration of One Pearl Bank with its green surroundings also includes sustainable features such as rain gardens, ponds and lush native tropical floral. Residents can also go for a short hike or workout at the park, slated to be rejuvenated into a playground and social space for the community as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2019.

One Pearl Bank is predominantly north-south facing, and incorporates design strategies including staggering blocks, void decks at ground and mid-floor sky terraces to promote airflow. One Pearl Bank achieved the Green Mark GoldPLUS award by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore for its energy-efficient design and water-efficient features. To reduce water consumption, automatic drip irrigation will be used and rainwater will be harvested for irrigation. To ensure healthy indoor air quality, low volatile organic compound paints for internal walls will be used.

Sustainability is at the core of everything CapitaLand does

CapitaLand places sustainability at the core of everything it does, integrating sustainability throughout the real estate life cycle from investment, to design, procurement, construction, operations and redevelopment or divestment. As a responsible real estate company, CapitaLand contributes to the environmental and social well-being of the communities where it operates, as it delivers long-term economic value to its stakeholders.

Ranked as one of the most sustainable corporations in the world and recognised as a global sustainability leader, CapitaLand is focused on achieving its ambitious targets set out in its 2030 Sustainability Master Plan. To future-proof its developments, CapitaLand integrates a low-carbon strategy into its real estate life cycle. This includes procuring building materials with lower embodied carbon and adopting more efficient building design and construction.

In addition to reducing energy and water consumption, CapitaLand also aims to increase the use of renewable energy in its properties. In 2020, power generated by solar panels at its properties in Singapore helped to meet the nation’s 2020 solar deployment target of 350 megawatt-peak. CapitaLand targets to achieve green certifications for its existing properties globally by 2030.

CapitaLand has been at the forefront of shaping the built environment, touching the lives of millions of people every day, across more than 250 cities in over 30 countries where it has presence. It remains committed to building quality, sustainable, safe, accessible, and vibrant real estate developments to enhance the lives of its shoppers, tenants, serviced residence and hotel guests, homeowners and members of the community.

To do so, CapitaLand has enhanced the design of its developments to incorporate considerations such as the well-being of its customers, the need for safe distancing, hygiene, and the ability for employees to work-from-home or work-from-anywhere within its properties. This includes having more flexible spaces, designs to manage the flow of human traffic to minimise physical contact, leveraging technologies for contactless services, as well as having green open spaces for respite.

Stepping up its commitment to sustainability through innovation, CapitaLand has launched the second edition of the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge (CSXC) and is calling for proposals across the global to make buildings more climate-resilient, resource-efficient, healthier and safer. Through the challenge, CapitaLand aims to accelerate its progress to meet its 2030 Sustainability Master Plan targets, with decarbonisation and circularity as key pillars.

CapitaLand is offering up to S$500,000 for the top 10 projects to be piloted at its global network of properties. Innovators will be provided access to a range of real estate classes globally and typologies in varying climatic conditions to apply their solutions, allowing them to demonstrate conclusively how their systems will function under real-world conditions. Shortlisted teams will be mentored by leading industry experts to prepare them for their pitch to a distinguished panel of judges in June 2022. CSXC 2022 is open for submissions. Submit here before 11 March 2022.

Greening the Entire Value Chain

Climate change poses one of the biggest threats to the planet. Joining the fight against the climate crisis and reducing our carbon footprint on the environment through greening the entire value chain, from the design and construction of buildings to operations, is therefore high on Frasers Property’s agenda.

In early 2021, Frasers Property announced its five sustainability goals, which include achieving net-zero carbon (Scopes 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions) across the entire real estate value chain by 2050. Its sustainability agenda is aligned with its purpose-driven journey of “Inspiring experiences, creating places for good”.

The organisation tracks, reduces and offsets carbon emissions from owned or controlled sources (Scope 1), those generated indirectly as a result of our energy usage (Scope 2) as well as carbon emissions from its tenants, contractors, suppliers, and vendors (Scope 3). Frasers Property is one of the first few SGX-listed real estate companies to make a commitment towards all the three scopes of carbon emissions. By 2022, all of Frasers Property’s businesses will have completed the development of their net-zero carbon roadmaps and carbon reduction targets using a science-based approach.

Frasers Property does its part to minimise embodied carbon through responsible sourcing, choice of building materials and also offseting of energy consumption in common areas with renewable energy at its developments. The company also measures and reports on the embodied carbon footprint of their development projects in Singapore.

Green buildings contribute to many aspects of environmental sustainability, from being energy- and water-efficient to providing healthy environments for tenants and occupants. With over 200 buildings green-certified since 2005, Frasers Property is also setting a goal to certify 80% of all owned and asset-managed properties by 2024, and to have all new projects under development certified from 2021.

Below are some examples of Frasers Property’s green buildings and initiatives in Singapore.

Residential

Parc Greenwich has been awarded Green Mark GoldPLUS for New Residential Building by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA). This Executive Condominium (EC) will adopt green features such as solar photovoltaics to reduce energy consumption generated from communal areas as well as sustainable products such as laminates, tile adhesive, and floor screed that are certified by the Singapore Green Building Product (SGBP) certification scheme. It will have passive design features that encourage natural ventilation and reduce heat gain. These include designing all units to be in a North-South orientation with a combination of casement and top-hung bedroom windows as well as horizontal and vertical sun-shading façade elements.

Aligned with Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 to promote the take-up of electric vehicles, electric vehicle chargers will be installed at Parc Greenwich. Parc Greenwich is the first EC in Singapore to obtain a green loan, bringing Frasers Property Group’s green and sustainable financing to about S$6 billion so far.

Rivière will be equipped with electric vehicle chargers and bicycle parking infrastructure to encourage a carbon-lite lifestyle. Its two towers are oriented predominantly in the North and South direction to minimise direct solar heat gain. Facades are designed with deep overhanging balconies and curtain wall surfaces are articulated with finely detailed fins to provide a sun-shading effect. Its sustainability features have been recognised with the BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS Award for New Residential Buildings.

Commercial

To construct Frasers Tower, a Grade A office development, Frasers Property used green cement, recycled concrete aggregates and washed copper slag, which have lower embodied carbon content compared to conventional materials.

Awarded the Green Mark Platinum award by the BCA and the Best Green Office Development at the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards, Frasers Tower’s environmentally-friendly features include energy-efficient and regenerative high-speed lifts and a high-performance double-glazed façade that greatly reduces solar heat gain. The lush greenery at its community zones and park further lowers surface temperature of the building and acts as a green lung. Rainwater is recycled to irrigate the building’s flora and run the water-cooling system. With a direct link to the Tanjong Pagar MRT station, the property provides secured bicycle lots with end of trip facilities and electric vehicle recharging stations.

Retail

Frasers Property is working with SP Group and Temasek to bring distributed district cooling (DDC) to Tampines Central. The DDC will bring energy savings and reductions in carbon emissions to support Tampines’ green ambitions to transform into an Eco Town by 2025. The Century Square and Tampines 1 shopping malls will be part of this movement for a greener Singapore.

Tenants are regularly engaged to improve the sustainability of Frasers Property’s commercial and retail properties, encouraging them to fit leased spaces with sustainable materials that reduce environmental footprint from production to operations, e.g. energy-efficient light fittings.

Click here to read more about Frasers Property’s sustainability goals and strategies.

Save Water Easily with Dual Flush

Water is precious. With an ever-growing population, increased urbanisation and global warming, saving this limited resource is crucial for the environment.

How can you save the Earth and, as a side benefit, reduce your water bills? The answer is actually quite simple.

How do you use water at home?

First, it is important to know the breakdown. Do you know how exactly your water bill is being spent around the home?

Seeing how showering takes the largest slice of the pie, you could commit to taking shorter or fewer showers. Though if you are constantly working up a sweat, this thought sends an uncomfortable chill down your spine. Water expenses for laundry, kitchen activities and bathroom taps are similarly, difficult and impractical to reduce without sacrificing hygiene.

Reduce water usage by 10% while remaining clean

Surprisingly, simply flushing the toilet already takes up a whopping 18% of the total water bill. It is easy to run up the water bill with weak, inefficient flushes that require multiple presses, but with an efficient flush, this percentage can be significantly reduced.

A water-efficient water closet with a dual flush can save up to 5 litres of water and at the same time offer a powerful flush. In other words, a simple replacement of your fill and flush valves could save you up to 10% of monthly water bills!

Exceptionally hassle-free!

What more, there is no need for a costly replacement of the entire cistern. The Geberit Fill and Flush valves are simple to install and can fit into almost all exposed cisterns in the market. In fact, you can easily do it yourself. Learn to replace your fill and flush valves from this 2-minute instructional video.

Going Green with Sustainable Sealants

You’ve got energy-efficient lighting and water-saving toilets installed in your new home. You even opted for earth-friendly alternatives such as 100% recycled countertops. But what about the substance that holds these materials together?

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Adhesives and sealants are used in large quantities when it comes to construction, interior design, or home improvement projects. They help to hold building materials or substrates together, cover surface imperfections, keep moisture out and prevent mould from appearing. Yet their impact on the environment is often overlooked. With increasing consumer demand and regulations for green initiatives, a new (and essential) value proposition has surfaced in the adhesive industry – sustainability.

“Green” and “sustainable” are more than just trending words these days as consumers become increasingly conscious of their purchase decisions.

Why Silicone Sealant?

Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels

Silicone is an extremely versatile material that is highly resistant to ozone, ultraviolet (UV) light, ageing, weather changes and extreme temperature fluctuations. Therefore, silicone sealant also possesses higher durability compared to other organic materials used in the adhesive industry. Using sealants with a longer working life reduces the need for maintenance and replacement. The increased material efficiency of silicone sealants thus lowers the total lifetime cost of maintaining a building, making them a very sustainable option.

When you are choosing sealants for your windows panels, gaps and partitions on your balcony or for outdoor use in general, it is important to bear in mind that exterior sealants must be able to withstand various weather conditions. Here is a basic checklist that we’ve put together for you to consider before purchasing a sealant for outdoor use:

  • – Weather resistance
  • – Water resistance i.e. keep moisture out especially when it rains
  • – UV and ozone resistance
  • – Non-corrosive and highly durable

With the myriad of products available in the market, it may not be feasible to go through every product label and its technical description to verify the sustainability and environmental impact of sealants.

Visit the Dow Adhesive and Sealant Blog for more information and tips on applying sealants for your home.

Living in a Healthier Space with Sealants

Silicone sealants are convenient and cost-effective solutions for DIYers when it comes to filling a narrow gap, keeping out moisture or finishing a joint at home. However, there are a few points to consider when homeowners purchase sealants for their living spaces.

Like all other man-made chemicals, there are potential health risks to look out for when using sealants indoors. Apart from their adhesiveness, ease of application, weather and water resistance and flexibility, the VOC content of sealants is definitely something DIYers should pay attention to on product labels.

What is VOC?

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and are chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. They are commonly found in products that build or maintain our homes e.g. paint, disinfectants, cleaning supplies, pesticides, air fresheners and aerosol sprays. The concentration of VOC can go up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, hence choosing the right sealant for indoor use becomes particularly important. The lower the VOC content, the better. In some countries, there are regulations stipulating the VOC content. For example, in Hong Kong, the VOC content in sealants has to be less than 4% of its weight.

What are some potential health risks?

Some health effects associated with VOC exposure include:

  • – Eyes, nose and throat irritation
  • – Headache
  • – Nausea
  • – Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system (with chronic exposure)
  • – Cancer (with chronic exposure; applies to both animals and humans)

The risk of health effects depends on the concentration of VOC in the air you breathe, as well as frequency and duration of exposure.

Ways to reduce VOC exposure

Climate Control

  • – Increase ventilation or the amount of fresh air in your home
  • – Conduct renovation works at home when human traffic is low
  • – Maintain low or comfortable temperature and humidity because chemicals emit gases at higher conditions

Source Control

  • – Buy in quantities that you will use soon and follow label instructions
  • – Store unused chemicals where there is lower human traffic. 
  • – Reduce reliance on pesticides. Instead, try natural remedies such as lavender and peppermint spray to repel insects
  • – Check product labels before purchasing and opt for sealants with lower VOC concentrations

Visit the Dow Adhesive and Sealant Blog for more information and tips on applying sealants for your home.

Sustainability Squared

Geberit is one of the pioneers when it comes to sustainability in the sanitary industry, ensuring a sustainable quality of life using innovative water management, extensive expertise and a consistent focus on sustainability – across all products, areas and processes.

The Best Choice for Green Buildings

Sustainable sanitary products usually impress thanks to low water consumption. However, it also helps when a company produces environmental product declarations, as these can be used to demonstrate ecological quality. On the one hand, this allows manufacturers to optimise their processes. On the other hand, the installation of such products is also considered by some labels (e. g. LEED). If there are comparable products from different manufacturers, then environmental product declarations can also help in choosing a product that is more environmentally friendly.

Meticulous from the Start till the End

Specially created product life cycle assessments are important decision-making tools for the development process and provide arguments for the use of resource-efficient products. Detailed life cycle assessments have already been prepared for a range of Geberit solutions.

Geberit AquaClean Sela Comfort

Geberit AquaClean Sela Shower Toilet with a white cover.

Saving Paper

Shower toilets from Geberit perform well in life cycle assessments and their consumption of toilet paper is comparable to conventional toilets. Compared to using toilet paper, the additional water used in a shower toilet has a smaller environmental impact.

Water-Saving

Geberit’s patented WhirlSpray shower technology, which is a pulsating shower spray refined through dynamic aeration for pleasantly gentle and thorough cleaning with low water consumption.

Geberit AquaClean shower toilets consume less than 1 litre of water in each shower, but despite this small quantity, the WhirlSpray shower technology helps to achieve the very best clean.

The ceramic surfaces of the AquaClean Sela is protected with the KeraTect special glaze, which makes the WC pan virtually non-porous and extremely smooth. Therefore, flushes can be clean and thorough even with less water than conventional flushes.

Energy-Saving

The shower toilet’s complete solutions perform well in life cycle assessments, but thanks to intelligent control technology, that doesn’t mean we have to lower our sights when it comes to comfort.

Geberit AquaClean products allow users to save more energy by individually adjusting the product settings, thus reducing their environmental impact even further. In standby mode (economy mode), all AquaClean models consume less than 0.5 watts of energy in total. All AquaClean models are equipped with an economy mode and fulfil the European eco-design requirements (ErP directives).

The shower toilet is equipped with the innovative heating-on-demand technology which significantly reduces energy consumption.

Sigma Concealed Cisterns and Actuator Plates

The Sigma80 touchless actuator plate

Water-Saving

The flushing cistern is the central element when it comes to water conservation. A model calculation shows that all Geberit dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns installed since 1998 saved over 3,120 million m of water in 2019 alone in comparison to traditional flushing systems.

Water conservation is the result of a balanced overall system. Reducing the flush volume in the cistern while at the same time ensuring that the WC pan is optimally flushed out is just as important as correctly dimensioning the drainage system.

The Sigma80 touchless actuator plate is an elegant addition to the bathroom and offers a dual flush system to sustainably reduce water consumption. Flush volumes can be reduced down to 2.7L to meet even the most stringent flush requirements.

Recycled Plastics and Reduced CO2 Emissions

The search for suitable, high-quality regranulate from external plastic waste is an integral part of Geberit’s procurement strategy. For the material Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a suitable alternative made of 100% recycled material, was found.

This alternative is based on high-quality plastic waste from the electronics industry (e.g. used computer cases). The manufacture of this regranulate consumes over 80% less energy compared to the manufacture of one tonne of new petrochemical-based plastic, while releasing around three tonnes less CO into the atmosphere. In 2019, some 850 tonnes of ABS regranulate were used for various components in exposed and concealed cisterns.

Sustainable Waterfront Living

For the built environment, climate change has brought to the fore the importance of sustainable design and eco-friendly building materials. What is equally important lies beyond a building’s life cycle stages of design and construction – as developers build green homes, how can they also help its residents lead more sustainable lifestyles?

One of the key priorities of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 is to accelerate the country’s transition to a low-carbon built environment, by greening 80% of its buildings by 2030, having 80% of its new developments as Super Low Energy buildings from 2030, and an 80% improvement in energy efficiency in best-in-class green buildings over 2005 levels by 2030. In addition, the latest Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark scheme has placed greater emphasis on energy efficiency, maintainability, embodied carbon as well as healthier indoor environment.

The upcoming residential development in the HarbourFront and Keppel Bay precincts, The Reef at King’s Dock, which is jointly developed by Mapletree Investments and Keppel Land, goes beyond reducing the environmental impact of the development process. It has been awarded the BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS Award in 2020 for its sustainable features which help to enhance the surrounding environment, including for the marine life at Marina Keppel Bay. Slated for completion in 2025, the Reef at King’s Dock also incorporates a myriad of smart and sustainable features throughout the development’s units and public spaces, to enable residents to adopt a greener lifestyle and nurture their love for nature.

Its highlight – Singapore’s first floating deck in a residential development – will house The Reef at King’s Dock’s very own underwater marine viewing area where residents will be able to view and better appreciate the marine ecology in King’s Dock, thus further promoting environmental awareness and conservation.

Building homes for a thriving ecosystem

The 180m floating deck in The Reef at King’s Dock (artist’s Impression)

The development’s surrounding natural environment is conserved and enhanced through the combined expertise of leading marine biologists and engineers.

While seeking to minimise the impact on the environment, The Reef at King’s Dock is designed with a resolute vision: a commitment to the protection of King’s Dock and the preservation of the thriving marine biodiversity within its waters.

This waterfront development’s 180m-long floating deck, located within the waters of King’s Dock, will house a marine viewing area which will serve as a connection to nature, inspiring residents to care for and appreciate the marine biodiversity found right at their doorstep.

The marine viewing area at the floating deck (artist’s impression)

The project team collaborated with marine biologists to design the submerged surface of the floating deck that will encourage the settlement of marine flora and fauna and enhance marine biodiversity at King’s Dock. The 180m-long floating deck acts as a novel habitat by providing a larger surface area for marine life to encrust onto and proliferate.

Tapping on the latest innovations in their fields, these pioneering experts have integrated their knowledge of the marine ecosystem and construction technologies to create sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.

In the floating deck’s design, the project team has taken into careful consideration the protection of King’s Dock’s existing structure, as well as the preservation of the marine life in its waters. For example, the floating deck’s main structure will be constructed offsite and then floated into King’s Dock during installation. 

Specially-treated concrete, which resembles natural rock and allows for marine life to build new habitats, was used in the construction of the floating deck.

The symbiotic efforts of marine biologists, marine engineers and architects have resulted in a floating deck that goes beyond an architectural marvel, as a catalyst for building awareness of marine biodiversity.

Thoughtfully designed with respect for the environment

The Reef at King’s Dock (artist’s impression)
Green roof at Club House (artist’s impression)

The development has a high green plot ratio and incorporates lush foliage at its numerous sky decks, green roofs and communal gardens. Verdant greenery wraps around and between the residential blocks, offering privacy to residents of The Reef at King’s Dock. Units are oriented for natural coolness, while the bespoke façade and balcony screens provide a good balance of sunlight and sun protection. The staggered blocks also allow for natural ventilation and maximise the scenic views.

View of landscaping and green roofs (artist’s impression)

The façades of the blocks are designed with integrated moveable external shades at the balcony areas, where residents have the option to control their views, privacy and ingress of natural light into their units. Glass used for windows and sliding doors are laminated glass with solar control that helps to reduce solar heat gain.

Image of external shading devices for apartments (artist’s impression)

Energy efficiency

Efficient energy performance throughout the development have been considered through: the provision of energy-efficient air conditioning system with 5-tick energy rating in all units; efficient lighting design with the use of LED lamps and provision of motion sensors for common areas; use of ductless jet fans with carbon monoxide (CO) sensors in the basement; and all lifts being equipped with regenerative features, VVFF (Variable Voltage and Variable Frequency) motor controller/driver and sleep function mode for maximum energy saving.

Water efficiency

Water efficiency is optimised through the selection of WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme) ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ water fittings, washing machines and dryers. Sub-meters for all the major water use within the development are also provided for water consumption monitoring. Moreover, rainwater harvesting has also been provisioned to serve as alternative water source for the development, combined with water efficient auto-irrigation system for landscape.

Facilities for responsible waste management recycling and recycling

Residents are highly encouraged to manage their waste responsibly through the provision of separate recycling chutes at each floor, common recycling bins and compost bins within the premises.

Photo credits: HarbourFront Three Pte Ltd

Greening Interiors: High Pressure Laminates

Carpentry is ubiquitous to any home in Singapore: these can be feature walls in the living room, overhanging cabinets in the kitchen and even vanity counters in the washroom. Where there is carpentry, they will most certainly be covered in laminates as well, the material that forms both a protective and decorative surface for your built furniture. Here are some facts about High Pressure Laminates.

1.  What are High Pressure Laminates?

As the most commonly used type of laminate used for carpentry works in Singapore, high pressure laminates (HPL) are made by fusing layers of craft paper with resin into a strong laminate sheet. HPLs come in a wide variety of colours and patterns, which make them the material of choice in fitting out interior spaces for visual appeal.

2. What are some features of HPLs?

HPLs are very durable, lasting for upwards of 5-15 years. They are also hardy enough to withstand the usual machinations of any household, and are easily replaced in the event of damage. HPLs are versatile enough to be used almost anywhere and can be applied to mimic a surface texture – such as marble or wood – that is a little over your budget.

In fact, the sheer variety of patterns and designs available to HPLs ensure that there will be a laminate suitable for any home. Some varieties of laminates also have antiviral and antibacterial properties, helping to keep homes safe and healthy.

3. Are HPLs healthy materials?

It is widely known that the materials and products placed in our places and spaces have a direct impact on our health and wellbeing. Toxic substances such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can show their impact during the manufacture, use or disposal of a building product. Given that any office or home will make use of a variety of building materials, these substances may find their way into your spaces and impact your health and wellbeing.

Many studies have shown that reducing exposure to toxic substances bring about real and measurable health benefits. For example, eliminating formaldehyde has shown potential to reduce asthma symptoms by half, while reducing VOCs indoors can bring about better air quality and improve the body’s resistance against disease. In these times where health and wellbeing are paramount, it is essential to ensure that the materials placed in your homes leave as small an impact on your health for as long a time as possible. As HPLs are used in large quantities – especially if you have a lot of fabricated carpentry – it is important to ensure that these materials contain as little toxic substances as possible.

HPLs manufactured by SGBC Member Greenlam Asia Pac Pte Ltd have been certified to have minimal emissions and low toxicity. In fact, Greenlam is one of the few companies to have achieved the highest-possible 4-tick rating under the Singapore Green Building Product (SGBP) certification scheme, which means that the product has been proven to emit very, very low amounts of harmful VOCs. This ensures that indoor air quality will be kept optimal throughout the laminate’s lifespan.

Greemlam’s onus on environmental sustainability has led them to set up a Green Strategy Group which works to develop, implement and monitor several green initiatives across the whole organisation including Zero Liquid Discharge, Responsible Forestry and Safe & Non-Hazardous Products.

Find out more about Greenlam’s solutions here: https://www.greenlam.com/sg/sustainability/

5 Tips on How to Cool a Room without Aircon

When the tropical heat gets hard to bear, our first instinct might be to reach for the aircon remote. When it’s such a convenient solution, it could be hard to kick the habit – even though most of us know it’s a huge energy guzzler. In fact, aircon makes up about a quarter of an average Singaporean household’s energy consumption.

Then, there’s the irony in heating up the Earth to keep our homes cool. A recent commentary suggests that the annual emissions generated from aircon use in an HDB flat with four air-con units is greater than yearly emissions generated from driving a car.

Still finding it hard to stop relying on aircon? From ceiling fans to solar films, we share how you can cool a room without an aircon.

1. Use a Fan

While it may seem like an obvious alternative, it’s important to highlight this option as fans consume less energy, which means more utility savings. A regular table or standing fan is also ready to be used right out of the box, though professional help is required to install a ceiling fan. While an aircon unit would involve both installation and servicing costs, using a well-placed fan is a straightforward and fuss-free  way to cool a room.

2. Ensure Cross-Ventilation

This is probably one of the easiest and most affordable (read: free) ways to cool a room. If you keep the windows and doors opposite each other open, wind can blow straight through. You can even turn on your fan to help direct the air for more efficient cooling.

3. Introduce Indoor Plants

Just as greenery in your estate helps to keep the surroundings cool, greenery around your home can keep your flat cool. Plants help to keep the heat at bay by releasing moisture into the air through transpiration. Plus, they’re a lot more stylish than your clunky aircon unit.

Starting on your plant parent journey? Be sure to check out our article on tips for buying house plants.

4. Install Solar Films

Natural light is great— until it’s heating up your home. One way to beat the heat is to install solar films on your windows. When applied, these films help to disperse heat and even filter out harmful UV rays.

5. Draw the Curtains

Not ready to invest in solar films for your home? A cheaper way to keep the heat out is to just keep the light out too, by drawing your curtains or shades during the day. If you have blinds, you can use the horizontal slats to direct sunlight to a light coloured ceiling. This helps diffuse the light coming in without letting in excess heat.

For more home maintenance tips, check out our guide. Or, read here for more home design ideas!

By Wong Li Ying

This article was adapted from MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore.

4 Eco-Friendly Furnishing Alternatives

With conscious consumerism gaining increasing traction around the world, more people have been opting for sustainable furniture to furnish their homes. This refers to pieces that use reclaimed materials, are sustainably-sourced and can be used over the span of a lifetime.

Here are some options to consider for a stylish and ethically-minded home!

1. Reclaimed Wood

Photo: d-Bodhi

Reclaimed wood furniture reduces the demand for newly-sourced lumber, which helps curb deforestation. High-quality, handcrafted furniture made with reclaimed wood are often built to withstand generations of use. Plus, no two pieces of wood are exactly the same, due to the unique wood grain and texture from weathered wood.

2. Rattan

From Home Tours: Dressed in Dreamy Pastels

Rattan is a naturally sustainable material and has seen a recent resurgence in interest among young homeowners looking to create a rustic, timeless look in their homes. Apart from its organic, Pinterest-worthy aesthetic, rattan furniture also blends well into any type of design and is a more cost-effective option than wood.

3. Cork

Photo: IKEA (by Ilse Crawford)

Cork is a surprisingly versatile and chic material that is highly affordable. Because cork is sourced from the bark of the cork oak tree, the trees themselves are never cut down and can live for more than 200 years. From cork coffee tables to cork benches, this quirky material creates a gamut of possibilities for eye-catching furniture pieces.

4. Vintage Furniture

From Home Tours: Bringing Back Old School Vibes

Instead of buying new furniture, consider pre-loved items. These items are more exclusive since they are no longer in the market. Despite their age, some may even be more durable in terms of design and material. Many second-hand furniture brands can breathe new life to the pieces by restoring them with more contemporary elements. Seems like sustainable pieces can also be synonymous with statement pieces!

By Vanessa Hang

This article was adapted from MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore.

Desktop Plants to Brighten Up Your Home Office

Studies show that looking at greenery helps with productivity and prevents fatigue. If you don’t have a window view, there is always the option of displaying some green plants on your desk for a green ‘micro-break’.

When selecting a plant for your workspace, choose options that are easy-to-care for and don’t take up too much space. Listed below are some plants you can consider incorporating for your home office.

1. Indoor Succulents

Succulents that tolerate indoor conditions , are a good way to liven up the surroundings without extensive maintenance. However, not all succulents are a good fit for indoor growing conditions. Many brightly colored varieties require more sun and can fade or stretch if kept indoors. So, choose the green varieties that tend to do well with the lowest light levels, especially if your home office lacks natural light.

2. Snake Plant

Sansevieria trifasciata (also known as the Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) is one of the most popular and hardy species of houseplants. They are easy to grow and nearly indestructible – they can thrive in very bright light and almost dark corners of the house. Sansevieria can remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air, and help purify the air.

3. Dracaena

If you prefer a leafier plant, the Dracaena is a good choice. The sturdy plant comes in different variants, but they mostly feature dark green leaves which are soothing to look at. Its relentless root system makes it difficult to wilt, and the plant can also survive in drought-like conditions, making it the perfect starter plant for indoor gardens.

4. African Violets

With their wide variety of colours, the African Violet livens up any workspace. Their low-maintenance levels and ability to grow well in moderate temperature, make them popular houseplants. However, as these plants do not do too well in high humidity, be sure to water them from the bottom, to avoid excess water on leaves that may result in leaf rot.

5. Cactus

When all else fails, there is the trusty cactus. Just be sure to keep the prickly plants where no one is likely to be reaching across your desk. The cacti plant actually thrives on neglect. It can contain a huge amount of water, enabling the plant to withstand even the most forgetful worker. Cacti prefer higher light levels, so if you are lucky enough to have a window desk, they will thrive.

When selecting any greenery for your workspace, review the care requirements carefully before making that decision. Enjoy your fresh looking workspace!

By Serene Fong

This article was adapted from MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore.

Tips for Designing an Eco-Friendly Home

There are many ways to lead a greener lifestyle, and James Tan decided to do it in a big way —through the design of his family home. James, who moved into his new BTO flat last year, is a huge advocate of sustainable living. Thus, ensuring his 5-room flat was fitted with green features was a priority for him.

From energy-efficient lights to green-certified paint, James shares the benefits and tips for designing an eco-friendly home.

Open Spaces, Cooler Temperatures

Most of us would turn to the air conditioner when it comes to beating the tropical heat. It may be the quickest way to do so, but it’s not the most energy-efficient. While fans are the next best alternative, ensuring cross-ventilation can also help keep the rooms cool. 

“Adopting an open concept for the communal area allows for better ventilation within the flat to help keep the temperature of the house relatively low,” James explains. “Deliberately keeping the design of a home minimal can also maximise ventilation.”

Going Green, Literally

Did you know that house plants can help with keeping the ambient temperature cool? Not only that, introducing greenery into your home can improve the surrounding air quality and amp up your home’s aesthetic factor.

In addition to using house plants such as peace lilies to improve air quality, James uses an environment monitor is used to track the indoor environmental quality (IEQ)

Adopt Energy-Efficient Features

An energy-efficient feature that home owners might be familiar with is LED lighting. These light bulbs last longer and are relatively more durable. Other features include motion-sensing lights and water-efficient fittings, all of which are found in James’ home.

“Not only is a green-enabled home beneficial for the natural environment, it enhances home owners’ overall living experience and well-being. Additionally, going green and being energy-efficient also allows us to enjoy utility savings,” James says.

Use Green-Certified Materials

When renovating his eco-friendly home, James ensured that all materials are certified by the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) where possible. These include paint, carpentry laminates, floor screed and tile adhesive that comprise low levels of toxic substances and emissions.

For instance, the carpentry laminates used in the bathrooms are fabricated from marine grade wood, a material with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause adverse health effects

“If you’re looking to use eco-friendly materials, do incorporate them from the start, as making changes would be challenging and costly once renovations works are completed.”

Furnish Sustainably

There are a few ways to furnish sustainably. When furniture shopping, consider the source of the materials. In addition to being ethically sourced, James advises to purchase pieces with eco-friendly components, to ensure the minimal presence of VOCs.

Instead of brand new furnishing, opting for vintage furniture or repurposing an existing piece are also sustainable alternatives for an eco-friendly home.

This article was adapted from MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore.

Make a Home that’s Good for the Planet, and Better for You

It’s well-known that buildings have a big impact on the environment. What may not be as apparent is that the building, or even the room you’re in, can also have a direct impact on your health and wellbeing.

Feeling ill and getting more headaches? It could be because of the room you’re in.

Ever heard of ‘sick building syndrome’? This describes scenarios in which people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness, such as headaches, fatigues, and eye and throat irritation, and the symptoms appear to be linked to time spent in a building itself.

On the flip side, this means that we can have buildings and homes that help us feel better, healthier and more comfortable.

Green buildings are buildings that in their design, construction and operation, reduce or eliminate negative impacts as well as create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment, and importantly, on the people living in the building. Any type of building can be green – be it an office, a school or a home. Seeing as we spend a significant amount of time at home, especially as work from home looks to be the default for a while longer, a green home can make a huge difference to your well-being and health.

Green homes have numerous benefits that make you feel good, more productive and comfortable in the long run.

Here are some ways in which green homes are better for us:

They help you think better
Green homes are shown to have a positive impact on your decision-making abilities and productivity levels. A study by Harvard found that people working in green, well-ventilated offices saw up to a 101% increase in cognitive scores.

You can breathe better
An important feature of green homes is that they make use of eco-certified materials and finishes that produce little to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are substances that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, and other health problems so it’s no wonder that air quality tends to be improved in green homes.

You sleep better
Green homes optimise the use of natural daylight, and use different types of lighting to keep our body clocks regulated, which in turn can improve our sleep quality at night for better rest.

You just feel better
Green homes incorporate natural elements in their design and these have a positive impact on mental health and stress levels. Green homes can also reduce environmental noise, which helps ease psychological distress.

A green home is simply about allowing for natural lighting and ventilation, sustainable choices for flooring, finishes and energy efficient lighting and appliances.

While the benefits of green homes are apparent, it’s important to understand that it is not just architects, interior designers and property developers who shape green homes; homeowners play a key part in ensuring that their homes, choices and actions are green. By taking simple steps, all of us can create homes and spaces that are safe, comfortable and healthy to live in.