Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at the Singapore Polytechnic – Singapore Green Building Council Memorandum Of Understanding Signing Ceremony

Friday, 11 December 2020

2020 is fast coming to a close. It has been a very challenging year. COVID-19 has hit society and many sectors of the economy hard, including the built environment sector.

However, the pandemic has also presented us the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate how we can improve the way we do things, as we move forward into a “new normal”.

One such area that we need to take a harder look at is how to tackle the existential challenge of climate change. As an island city, we are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The development of climate-resilient infrastructure and buildings is crucial to our survival. Besides adapting to the changing climate, we also need to do our part to reduce carbon emissions. Green buildings form one of the key pillars of Singapore’s climate mitigation strategy, as buildings account for over 20% of our emissions.

Building Resilience

Buildings are resource-intensive and have a significant carbon footprint. It is therefore important for our built environment sector to minimise wastage and adopt the use of low-carbon and recycled materials. Today, 99% of construction and demolition waste in Singapore is recycled. We have done well, but we can do more to recycle waste from other sectors, and transform it into sustainable, high quality construction material.

On this note, I am glad to have witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC). A key thrust of this collaboration is the focus on developing more sustainable building materials and to promote greener practices. For example, SP’s and SGBC’s joint development of a database on the embodied carbon of materials can help transform supply chains and drive demand for more environmentally-friendly choices. This will help the built environment sector become more resource-efficient and resilient. I am confident that the initiatives under this MOU will help our overall effort to drive industry transformation, build talent readiness and strengthen our built environment ecosystem.

Promoting Green Buildings Technologies

SGBC has also partnered with BCA to lead the review and engagement for the Singapore Green Building Masterplan. I am happy to note that there has been strong industry support for doing more on the climate change front, and would like to thank SGBC for your efforts. Together, we have made good progress by greening over 40% of our buildings by Gross Floor Area to date, but we need to do more to meet our target of 80% by 2030. We have another decade to achieve this. Hence, we must step up on research and innovation, and accelerate the deployment of green technologies in our buildings.

The collaboration between SP and SGBC will strengthen the partnership between industry and the research community, and provide a platform for the dissemination of new green technologies and solutions. We hope to see more of such industry partnerships with our educational institutions to create solutions that will drive productivity, innovation and environmental sustainability in the built environment sector.

Growing a Core of Green Professionals

The green economy is an area with high growth potential. Green buildings will create value and opportunities in the built environment sector, and generate good jobs for Singaporeans in sustainability. It is therefore important to continue to strengthen and grow our green-collar workforce. Today, there are over 4,000 Green Mark projects locally. Internationally, close to 50 Singapore-based firms are involved in over 300 Green Mark projects in 16 countries. To ensure a steady pipeline of green buildings professionals, BCA targets to train 25,000 individuals by 2025 to be equipped with skillsets relevant to green buildings. We are making good progress, having trained more than 20,000 people to date. 

It is important that we introduce these meaningful and exciting careers in the built environment sector to our youth and students early. I am sure the sharing sessions held by our green professionals and our educators will help to cultivate the next generation of green buildings champions. 


In conclusion, although COVID-19 and climate change present significant challenges to the built environment sector, they also present the opportunity for us to build back stronger and greener.

I hope to see strong continued support and participation from the industry in our green building journey, and I am confident that our students will learn a lot and benefit from the opportunities and knowledge gained through this collaboration.

Together, let us develop a built environment that will not only serve us well in the present, but benefit our future generations as well.

Thank you.

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