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Times 21 Sep 07
All new buildings to go green from next year
Tan Hui Yee
IN A major push to make developers go green, the Government will require all new buildings to meet minimum environmental standards from next year. Developers will be required to be more efficient in using water and energy than under current industry practice.
The Building Control (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday to give the Minister of National Development the power to impose the rules.
This latest change is perhaps the most significant extension of regulations so far to make buildings environmentally friendly. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) estimates the requirements would raise construction costs by just about 1 per cent.
But experts say the final figure would be even less - negligible in fact - if green features were factored into a building's design from the start. These could take the form of more efficient air-conditioning and lighting systems, water fittings or better insulation. More details of the rules will be released later.
Going green was optional for developers in the past.
In December last year, the Government launched a $20 million incentive fund which private developers could use to make their buildings more environmentally sustainable.
In April, the Government required all new public buildings to meet green standards as set out by the BCA.
Under its two-year-old Green Mark certification programme, buildings are rated on how efficient they are in the use of water and energy, and their effect on their users' health and the environment.
So far, 66 out of about 120,000 buildings in Singapore have received the Green Mark certificate, while another 25 are in the pipeline for this stamp of approval. The BCA estimates that getting this minimum Green Mark standard would eventually shave 10 to 15 per cent off a building owner's utilities bill.
Major developer City Developments, which has Green Mark certifications for 16 of its buildings, said the Government's previous green initiatives had made the impending requirements easier to accept.
General manager for its projects division Eddie Wong told The Straits Times: 'We believe that with early and efficient planning, green buildings can be both environmentally sustainable and financially successful.'
Meanwhile, another part of the Bill passed yesterday requires building owners to maintain facilities for the disabled. They will not be allowed to change, remove or block any features designed especially for these users. This would mean, for example, that they risk being penalised if they lock up a toilet built for the disabled.
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