Landmark legislation to green existing buildings under Building Control Act

Monday, 10 September 2012

- Singapore first in the world to mandate minimum environmental sustainability standards for existing buildings

Singapore, 10 September 2012 - From the second half of next year, building owners will have to fulfil three requirements under the Building Control Act: 
. Achieve minimum Green Mark standard for existing buildings when a cooling system is installed or retrofitted
. Carry out three-yearly energy audit on building cooling systems 
. Submit building information and energy consumption data annually

Phase one of the new legislative requirement of achieving minimum Green Mark standard for existing buildings will focus on hotels, retail and office buildings with a minimum gross floor area of 15,000m2, when they install or replace a chiller system. The building owner will be required to review the state of environmental sustainability of the building holistically, including overall building energy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor air quality to meet the minimum Green Mark standard. If necessary, the owner will also need to make other improvements such as improving the overall cooling system, lighting and lift equipment.

In 2008, legislation was passed, requiring new buildings with Gross Floor Area (GFA) of more than 2,000 square metres to achieve a Green Mark certified rating via the Building Control (Environmental Sustainability) Regulations.

Together with the current legislation for new buildings, these new regulatory measures will contribute towards improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings to meet Singapore's target of greening 80% of our building stock by 2030.

Minimum Green Mark standard for existing buildings

"Our greatest challenge is to green existing buildings. Typically, a building cooling system consumes about 30% - 50% of the building total energy consumption and the typical lifespan of the building cooling system can be as long as 15 - 20 years. Since building owners have to change their chiller systems when it is running out of their useful life, they should ensure that the replaced systems are more energy efficient to last another 15 years or more. The payback period for such retrofitting work can be as short as three to seven years, depending on the extent of the retrofitting work. After the payback, the rest is net gain by the owner," said Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA.

Three-yearly Audit on Building Cooling Systems

To ensure that the building owners regularly maintain the new energy efficiency cooling systems they installed, building owners are required to conduct energy audits every three years on the building cooling systems. This will ensure that the cooling systems operate at an optimum performance level and efficiencies of the systems are maintained to minimum regulatory standards.

Upon being notified by BCA, building owners are required to carry out an energy audit of their buildings; Building owners either have to engage Mechanical Professional Engineers or energy auditors registered with BCA to carry out the audit within the specified timeframe. The audit results must also meet the minimum system efficiency standards. This audit requirement is applicable to two groups of buildings, the first group is existing buildings which have installed or replaced their building cooling systems to meet the minimum GM Certified level. The second group is new buildings and retrofitted buildings (except industrial and residential ones) which are installed with the chilled-water cooling system and have met the minimum Green Mark Certified level under the Building Control (Environmental Sustainability) Regulations imposed from December 2010.

Together with the earlier measure to require existing buildings to meet the minimum Green Mark standard, this regular energy auditing requirement will make Singapore the first in the world to mandate minimum environmental sustainability standards and regular energy audit for existing buildings.

Annual Mandatory Submission of Building Information and Energy Consumption Data

The third regulatory measure requires the annual submission of building information and energy consumption data. This will be done in stages starting with hotels, retail and office buildings.

Utilities suppliers, such as SP Services, are required to provide the annual electricity consumption data of individual buildings while specific building owners are required to provide other building data such as GFA, tenancy composition and building system details. This information can be submitted via an online portal and it will be a one-off exercise for the building owners upon receiving notices from BCA. Subsequently, they only need to update the information online only when there are changes.

The data collected will form the basis of the national energy benchmark for the building sector. BCA will also analyse the data collected, and share with building owners their electricity consumption in comparison to other buildings of similar types, so that they would be able to pro-actively monitor and improve their building's energy efficiency.



Summary of regulatory measures to raise environmental sustainability standards for existing buildings (34KB .pdf)

Portable document format version of the media release is also available (71KB .pdf).

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