By: Yue Kaixin
The total green building market in the Asia-Pacific region is worth about US$163.4 billion (about S$219.4 billion) up to 2022, according to a report by market research firm Market Research last June. (Photo by Yenyan Wang).
Singapore is committed to converting at least 80% of its buildings to low-carbon and environmentally friendly buildings by 2030. This commitment not only boosts local sustainability efforts but also encourages the adoption of innovative ‘green’ services. It’s worth noting that this green transformation of local buildings can be achieved through a “zero investment” approach.”
As implied by the term “zero investment,” the building owner incurs no upfront costs for enhancing the building’s sustainability. This investment is covered through green financing arranged by the energy efficiency solution provider, in collaboration with local financial institutions.
In an interview with Lianhe Zaobao, Jamie Lee (李洁敏), the Marketing and Communications Manager at Singaporean energy services company bbp, said that carbon emission reduction solutions need to be customized for each site to address the specific needs of different projects. Additionally, she noted that the scarcity of capital for these transitions has prevented many owners from committing to enhancing the sustainability of their buildings.
Bank Launches U-Energy Program to Solve Financing Problems for Green Transformation
Wong Song Ling (王松龄), Head of Strategic Planning for Real Estate and Infrastructure Industries at UOB, identified project scale and energy efficiency standards as key challenges in transforming local buildings into more sustainable structures. To address these financing hurdles, UOB introduced the U-Energy program, designed to facilitate the financial aspects of such transformations.
The “zero investment” model proposed by UOB not only addresses the cost concerns of building owners but also guarantees the effective execution of sustainability solutions. This is achieved through ongoing support and services provided by energy service companies post-transformation, ensuring a seamless transition to greener practices.
In the “Energy-as-a-Service” (EaaS) model, the energy service company not only finances and oversees the building transformation but also takes on the responsibility for subsequent equipment maintenance and tracking of energy performance. Building owners are required to enter into an EaaS contract, typically lasting between three to seven years, where a portion of the energy savings generated is shared as compensation to the energy service company. This approach simplifies the process for owners, who benefit from improved energy efficiency without the need for upfront investment or ongoing maintenance concerns.
Jamie also revealed that more than 80% of bbp’s projects are operated through the “zero investment” model. As of January this year, the company has helped its customers save a total of 480 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, equivalent to 120 million yuan in energy bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e)by 240 million kg.
Wong Song Ling noted that the U-Energy program supports building owners in executing energy conservation strategies across eight critical areas, including indoor cooling, as well as energy and power management.
As of last September, the U-Energy program had achieved an annual energy savings of 51 gigawatt-hours (GWh), equivalent to a reduction of about 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This reduction is comparable to eliminating 6,000 vehicles from the roads each year, demonstrating the program’s substantial contribution to reducing environmental impact.
Government Funding Boosts Energy Transformation in Singapore Buildings
Beyond the contributions of financial institutions and energy service companies, the government has been actively promoting and providing subsidies for the energy transition in local buildings over recent years.
Hong Jian Sheng, Senior Director of Building and Construction Authority, mentioned that to assist building owners in improving their energy efficiency, BCA introduced the $63 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0 (GMIS-EB) in late June 2022. This scheme offers subsidies to support building owners in undertaking energy efficiency projects, partially covering the costs associated with the green transformation.
The incentive provided by the scheme varies depending on the Green Mark certification level achieved and the amount of carbon emissions reduced. For instance, a project that attains a Green Mark Zero Energy (ZE) Energy rating and successfully reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 metric tons would be eligible for a grant of $45,000, dependent on the progress of the Energy Improvement Works (EIWs).
More than 2,500 buildings certified with green mark
Hong reported that by the end of June last year, about 55 percent of the Singapore’s total floor area had undergone green transformations, resulting in more than 2,500 buildings receiving the Green Mark Label. Following the launch of the ultra-low-energy building program in 2018, there has been a noticeable increase in buildings achieving higher green standards. Out of the 120 local buildings that have been honored with the Green Mark Super Low Energy award by the Construction Authority, 79 received their awards in the last three years alone.
The green building market in the Asia-Pacific region has seen rapid expansion recently. A June report from Market Research revealed that by 2022, the total value of the green building market in Asia-Pacific reached approximately US$163.4 billion (about S$219.4 billion), growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7% from 2017 to 2022. This growth underscores the increasing significance of green buildings in the region.
Jamie highlighted that the surge in Asia’s green building market is propelled by factors such as rapid urbanization, heightened environmental consciousness, and supportive government policies. The focus of market development now includes the integration of renewable energy, sustainable urban planning and development, and the optimization of energy efficiency technology.
建设局可持续环境发展署高级署长洪建生说，为帮助业主提升建筑节能水平，建设局2022年6月底推出6300万元的绿色建筑奖励计划（现有建筑） 2.0（Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0，简称GMIS-EB 2.0），用于资助业主绿色转型的部分成本。
这项奖励计划以绿色建筑标志认证等级和碳排放减少程度为基础。例如，达到绿色建筑标志零能耗等级并减少1000公吨二氧化碳排量的项目，可根据节能改造工程（Energy Improvement Works，简称EIWs）完成进度，获得4万5000元的资助。
洪建生说，截至去年6月底，全岛近55%的总楼面面积已实现绿色转型。超过2500个建筑获得了绿色建筑标志认证。自2018年实施超低能耗建筑计划以来，越来越多的建筑获得了更高标准的绿色认证。本地120个获得建设局颁发绿色建筑标志超低能耗奖（Green Mark Super Low Energy）的建筑中，79个是过去三年中颁发的。