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.

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. 

Facilitating Green Renovation

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. The DBS Eco-aware Renovation Loan aims to raise awareness about the eco-friendly choices you can make in your home renovation process, whether it’s selecting non-toxic paint, choosing energy-efficient appliances, or leveraging smart technology to reduce carbon footprint.

Fulfil at least 6 out of the 10 items under the “Eco-aware Renovation Checklist” developed in collaboration with SGBC and enjoy an attractive interest rate of 4.68% p.a. (EIR 5.41%*) on your renovation loan.

Click here to find out more.

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.

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.

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:

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

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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

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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.