Your views have helped to shape the IMCSD’s recommendations in the blueprint. The following are some examples of the key recommendations the IMCSD has adopted in direct response to the public feedback.
Promote the use of solar power in housing estates, buildings and at public spaces
Solar power can help meet some of our overall energy needs. However, solar power is still about 2-3 times more expensive than electricity generated from conventional energy sources. Solar technology is rapidly evolving, and cost and efficiency improvements can eventually make solar energy cost competitive with conventional energy sources.
As such, Government is investing heavily in solar energy R&D. A $20 million Solar Capability Scheme (SCS) was set up in 2008 to encourage innovative design and integration of solar panels into buildings. To pave the way for wider solar adoption in the future when solar power is commercially viable, HDB will embark on an islandwide test-bed of solar technology within public housing estates. Costing $31m, this project will involve 30 precincts nationwide. The results will allow HDB to better factor solar requirements into the design of new flats and familiarise Town Councils on the technical and maintenance issues for solar installations.
Users of solar energy are already allowed to sell excess electricity back to the grid. EMA has published the market rules and a facilitation guide that would help members of the public install solar panels and sell the excess electricity back to the grid.
However, subsidising the mass installation of solar panels is not a prudent use of resources and will not be sustainable in the long run. For example, instituting feed-in-tariffs would raise electricity prices for all Singaporeans and commit us to the current solar technology for at least 10-20 years.
Waste Minimisation & Recycling
Promote recycling, including stepping up public education and providing more extensive recycling facilities
NEA will study the feasibility of providing more recycling facilities. These may include more recycling bins, and separate chute for recyclables in high-rise residential buildings.
To provide some financial assistance to organisations (e.g. companies, Management Councils of residential, commercial and industrial properties and Town Councils), to offset the cost of setting up new waste minimisation and recycling projects, NEA has launched an S$8mil 3R Fund from April 2009. The fund will co-fund up to 80% of qualifying costs, subject to a cap of S$1 mil per project.
Promote less packaging and give incentives (e.g. take-back schemes for containers) for reducing waste
An effective way of reducing waste is to avoid it or minimise the amount generated from the start at the production stage. In June 2007, the NEA signed a voluntary Singapore Packaging Agreement with NGOs, industry associations, Public Waste Collectors and businesses in the food and beverage sector to reduce packaging waste. Signatories undertake to re-design their product packaging so as to minimise waste, such as by using less material, or using more recycled or recyclable materials. Since then, the signatories have collectively managed to reduce some 850 tonnes of packaging material per annum. To take this further, the agreement is being expanded to cover all other product lines.
Collect rainwater and recycle used water for public housing
HDB is constructing a pilot system at the demo Eco-precinct Treelodge@Punggol. This will enable HDB to better assess the viability, maintenance and health considerations before examining it on a larger-scale.
Reduce the number of lights for common areas, or use energy-efficient lights and lighting sensors.
As part of HDB's Energy Save programme, HDB is working with Town Councils to reduce energy use for common areas by 30% and 20% for existing and new estates respectively. The measures to be taken include switching to energy-efficient outdoor and corridor lighting, as well as the use of sensors in MSCPs.
HDB will also look into reducing lightings, where feasible, taking into consideration the lighting level required for security and safety reasons.
Regulate the use of glass that adds to cooling load in our tropical climate.
BCA regulates building envelope thermal performance of air-conditioning buildings to ensure that building envelopes (e.g. facades) are designed to minimize heat transfer into buildings and hence reducing the cooling energy needed. In order not to stifle creativity and innovation, architects are given the flexibility in their choice of materials as long as they meet the energy performance standard set by BCA.
Specifically for residential buildings, BCA has developed a new thermal indicator, Residential Envelope Transmittance Value (RETV) to ensure that facades (especially glass) are adequately designed to minimize heat gain through the building envelope and optimize occupants’ comfort. This new performance standard took effect in April 2008 when BCA legislated that all new buildings and those undergoing major retrofitting (up to 2000 square metres) had to meet minimum Green Mark standards.
In addition, BCA encourages adoption of better performance facade materials through the BCA Green Mark Scheme. Green Mark is a green building rating system developed by BCA and it promotes the adoption of green building design and technologies that reduce the impact of buildings on the environment.
Design apartments to have better natural ventilation and sunning provisions.
The building control regulations administered by BCA require residential buildings to be provided with adequate natural ventilation and lighting.
In addition, BCA encourages greater use of natural ventilation and daylighting through the BCA Green Mark Scheme. Green Mark is a green building rating system developed by BCA and it promotes the adoption of green building design and technologies that reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. The Green Mark scheme also emphasizes the use of passive design strategies such as building orientation and design that optimises natural ventilation and daylighting. With effect from April 2008, all new buildings and those undergoing major retrofitting (up to 2000 square metres) have to meet the minimum Green Mark standards.
Greenery and Biodiversity
Encourage community gardening / farming.
The Community-in-Bloom Programme was started in 2005 to build a culture of gardening in Singapore and sustain our Garden City through individuals’ contributions as a “gardening nation”. Nature interest groups, volunteers and residents are encouraged to start community gardens to green their estates.
To date there are over 300 community gardens throughout Singapore, in residential areas, schools and various organisations. Examples of recent start-ups are Jalan Senang Estate (residents' roadside flower gardens), Canberra Zone 3 (residents' herbs and spices gardens at Blk 467A, Admiralty Drive), Griffith Primary School (students' learning gardens within school grounds) and NTUC Club (club members' flower garden at Downtown East, Pasir Ris).
Plant trees that can provide more shading.
Where possible, NParks and HDB will select trees that offer good shade for planting in our parks, housing estates and along roads. This is dependent on the sufficiency of planting width for optimum tree root spread and air space for tree crown spread. Where site conditions are unfavourable, less shady alternatives such as palms would be used.
Conserve our natural biodiversity
NParks will be developing the Singapore National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan to guide the efforts at conserving our natural heritage over the next 10 to 15 years. The Action Plan includes conducting new research and documentation as well as promoting public awareness and appreciation of Singapore’s biodiversity.
Preventing overcooling and improving energy efficiency in buildings
Air-conditioning accounts for the bulk of a buildings total electricity consumption. It is a waste of energy to overcool buildings. Furthermore, building occupants experience discomfort from low indoor temperatures.
The Singapore Standard CP 13 (Code of Practice for mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings) specifies that thermal comfort is achieved when the indoor temperature is maintained between 22.5 and 25.5ºC, with average humidity not exceeding 70%. The National Environment Agency (NEA) recommends the upper end of this range for energy efficiency to save costs and to protect the environment.
NEA offers funding support through the Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe) to help building owners to engage the services of energy efficiency professionals. Another of NEA’s programmes, the Energy Smart Building Scheme, gives recognition to building owners and managers who manage the energy usage in their buildings effectively. Energy Smart buildings are buildings that are among the top 25% of buildings here in terms of energy efficiency. At the same time, the indoor air quality must meet guidelines specified by NEA, including the recommended air temperature. This is to ensure that energy conservation does not compromise indoor air quality.
The Government is also taking the lead to improve its own energy efficiency. All large air-conditioned government office buildings, as well as polytechnics and ITEs, will conduct energy audits to improve their energy efficiency by March 2010.
Saving energy at home
To increase public awareness on energy efficiency, NEA launched the 10% Energy Challenge in April 2008 to encourage households to reduce their energy consumption by 10%. Every household can save electricity with following simple habits:
- The air-conditioner uses the bulk of the electricity in a home. A fan uses less than 10% of the electricity used by an air-conditioner! Use a fan instead of an air-conditioner to keep cool.
- The lower the temperature setting, the more energy used by your air-conditioner. If you use an air-conditioner, set the temperature at 25oC or higher.
- Switch off home appliances at the power socket. Standby power can account for up to 10% of your home electricity use. Do not leave them on standby.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs (e.g. compact fluorescent lamps).
- Use energy efficient appliances (e.g. air-conditioner, refrigerator) by checking the energy labels.
To enable households to choose more energy efficient appliances, air-conditioners, refrigerators and clothes dryers in stores now carry the mandatory energy label. NEA will implement Minimum Energy Performance Standards for household air-conditioners and refrigerators by 2011 to remove the least efficient models from the market.
Making public transport more accessible and convenient
As part of the Land Transport Masterplan, the Government is improving public transport to make it a choice mode. That is why billions are being invested to expand and enhance our hub-and-spoke transport system, to provide commuters with a seamless and integrated travel experience.
Some of the key initiatives include the doubling of our rail network by 2020, as well as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) taking on the role of central bus network planner later this year.
The LTA will also introduce more bus priority measures to reduce overall journey times on public transport, and also improve real-time and multi-modal public transport information. The Public Transport Council (PTC) will continue to tighten the bus Quality of Service standards. For example, from Aug 2009, it will require at least 80% of bus services to have headways of not more than 10 minutes during weekday peak periods, from 15 minutes currently.
Accessibility and convenience for pedestrians will also be improved through the provision of more covered linkways and pedestrian overhead bridges around the public transport nodes.
Encouraging cycling through the provision of infrastructure (such as cycling track and storage racks), public education, and enforcement of safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists
The Government will help facilitate cycling as another mode of transport between homes and transport nodes on a town-level basis. However, this is not a straightforward issue. It requires extensive consultations and collaboration between Government agencies and local community stakeholders. More importantly, it also requires pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to all behave graciously towards one another, in the spirit of mutual accommodation. This is a social norm that requires time to take root.
It is not feasible, due to our limited land space, to expand our roads to put in dedicated cycling tracks on the roads. Instead, the Government will build dedicated cycling paths outside the roads where possible, along the main transit axes to key public transport nodes within the HDB towns. Over the next five years, LTA will, in partnership with community stakeholders, invest more than $43 million to carry out the first phase of a programme to build such cycling tracks in selected HDB towns, including Tampines, Yishun, Sembawang, Pasir Ris and Taman Jurong. More and better bicycle racks will also be provided at MRT stations.
The public transport operators also allow foldable bicycles on board buses and trains during off-peak periods.
Introducing new vehicle technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions
The vehicle technology landscape is constantly evolving with new technologies that improve fuel economy or lower emissions. The challenge is to ascertain which of these technologies deliver the most impact given limited resources, and also best suit our needs and the local context.
The LTA will embark on a number of trials to ascertain the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of some of the new technologies. These trials include studying the feasibility of introducing diesel-hybrid technology for bus fleets, fitting Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) onto diesel vehicles, as well as test-bedding of electric vehicles.
The LTA will also set up a Vehicle Emission Test Laboratory (VETL) to support these trials.
Improving fuel efficiency of vehicle fleet
The NEA has introduced the mandatory Fuel Economy Labelling Scheme from April 2009, to provide information on the fuel efficiency of passenger cars and light goods vehicles to buyers, so that they will be able to make better informed decisions at the point of purchase.
The LTA is also working with bus companies to trial the feasibility of diesel-hybrid bus technology, which can help improve fuel economy.
Incentivising green vehicles (including CNG vehicles)
The Government has announced the extension of the Green Vehicle Rebate (GVR) scheme for another two years, until end-2011. This scheme helps to narrow the differential upfront costs of green vehicles with their conventional equivalents, as an incentive to encourage motorists to consider green vehicles.
Bi-fuel Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles also enjoy GVR benefits until end-2011. From 2012 onwards, special (CNG) tax for CNG vehicles will be abolished, and in its place a volumetric tax on CNG fuel will be implemented.
The Government has also supported private sector efforts in developing the initial CNG refuelling infrastructure through co-funding the start-up costs, through the National Environment Agency (NEA)’s Innovation for Environmental Sustainability Fund. NEA has provided co-funding for the Jurong Island and Mandai stations, as well as the upcoming Serangoon North station. The government is encouraged by the private sector initiatives in setting up refuelling facilities in Jalan Buroh and the planned station at Toh Tuck. The CNG refueling infrastructure is expected to increase from three to five by end of 2009 with the opening of the stations at Serangoon North and Toh Tuck.
Keeping vehicle emissions in check
Vehicles currently undergo annual inspections to ensure that they are properly maintained to minimise harmful emissions from their tailpipes (e.g. black smoke).
The LTA also hopes to adopt new technologies to keep vehicle emissions in check. As diesel vehicles are a key source of pollutive emissions, the LTA will undertake a trial to fit Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) onto diesel vehicles, to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of this method of reducing PM2.5.
When established later this year, the Vehicle Emission Test Laboratory (VETL) will also be able to test gaseous and particulate vehicular emissions, to support the DPF trial.