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.


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.

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.

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.