As passionate advocates for sustainable cooling and urban developments, Singapore has become a significant inspiration for us. Although there are some limitations to what the city can do in terms of what they can achieve with overall sustainable technologies [see case study by GLOBUS], we like to focus on the Top 3 developments which affect clean, cool air.
1. Green Buildings
The push to go green extends to building construction since green buildings became mandatory in 2008. Though standards for green buildings vary, they are generally designed to use less energy and water and improve the indoor environment, including air quality. The latter being our greatest passion. With improvements being made in the way we design and construct buildings, there becomes little need for energy-hungry thermal management systems such as air-conditioning. The most widely used certification for green buildings is called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Some of the feature’s of a green building include:
- Solar Panels
- Rooftop Planting
- Enhanced Ventilation
- Improved Insulation
- Water Conservation
- Modulate lighting based on Natural Light
- Motion Detection Sensor Control Light
- Building Orientation
- High-Efficiency Light Fixtures
- Eco-Friendly Building Materials
- Smart Heating & Cooling Systems
- Rainwater Utilisation Systems
If done right, the benefits green buildings have on our environment can be sizeable in reduced environmental impact. It can also be argued that green buildings may also be beneficial for our health.
Cities produce a vast amount of emissions and waste, putting a strain on both human and ecological health. But our buildings themselves may hold a solution. High-density urban areas—especially those built using green methods in design and construction—can be more energy efficient and pollute less. New research is also revealing that green buildings can actually be good for our health too. —Kelsey Nowakowski
Clean, Cool Benefits of Green Buildings
90% of time spent indoors – Workers in green buildings have fewer complaints about air quality and humidity.
Productivity – In one study, cognitive function doubled with enhanced ventilation.
Noise Reduction – Productivity is improved in offices using materials to reduce noise.
Maximise Natural Light – Workers who sit near windows get more light and sleep an extra 46 minutes at night. Light helps regulate sleep cycles.
Fewer Air Pollutants – Green buildings can reduce illnesses caused by air quality issues.
2. Plant Life & Water Features
New developments must include plant life, in the form of green roofs, cascading vertical gardens, and verdant walls.
Nicknamed the City in a Garden, Singapore’s notoriety as the World’s Greenest City is no surprise. Parks such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the Botanic Gardens and the newer Gardens by the Bay super park are home to around 400,000 plants. The city also has a considerable number of roof gardens and ‘skyrise’ greenery on building facades – in fact, this type of greenery alone has increased from 61 hectares in 2013 to 72 hectares in 2015.
The push for increased city greenery has been encouraged by the Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme 2.0 which has assisted in greening more than 110 existing buildings in Singapore by retrofitting them with extensive green roofs, edible gardens, recreational rooftop gardens, and lush verdant green walls since the introduction in 2009.
- Encourage the installation of skyrise greenery on existing buildings across Singapore.
- Create a distinctive image of the city in the tropical climate through extensive greenery adorning building facades and skyrise levels.
- Bring about environmental benefits such as mitigating the urban island heat effect and improving the air quality through the plants’ transpiration and filtration of dust particles.
According to a study conducted by the MIT Senseable City Lab, almost 30% of the city-state is covered by trees and vegetation, which is nearly 4% more than joint second-place cities Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada, which both have 25.9%.
Increasing a city’s tree canopy contributes to lowering urban temperatures by blocking shortwave radiation and increasing water evaporation. Creating more comfortable microclimates, trees also mitigate air pollution caused by everyday urban activities. Their absorptive root systems also help avoid floods during severe rains and storm surges. So overall, trees are pretty awesome…The green canopy is an important and integral part of urban life. Trees help mitigate extreme temperatures, provide a natural respite from traffic, noise, and congestion, and improve the quality of life for those living in urban environments,’ – Treepedia
Singapore has also provided a city extension called Marina Bay by creating one of the largest freshwater city reservoirs in the world, and 250 acres of prime real estate has been set aside for the Gardens by the Bay, a “green lung” in the city. Water features can have a significant impact on the environment and those who live within it. For details on the benefits of water-features read our Top 5. Here is a concise list to give you an overview.
Benefits of Water Features
- Improves Air Quality
- Natural Humidifiers
- Stress Relief and Relaxation
- Provides a Pleasant Sound
- Builds Community
3. Liveable Walkable City
Given land constraints, Singapore has no choice but to adopt high-density development. National Geographic conducted an illuminating interview with Cheong Koon Hean, the first woman to lead Singapore’s urban development agency. Much of the vision to keep Singapore both sustainable and livable stems from her knowledge and passion. The veteran architect and urban planner is credited with reshaping the city skyline, leading it into a more sustainable future. Her most notable landmark projects include the entertainment quarter Marina Bay and the waterfront residential district. Cheong is now CEO of the Housing and Development Board, which builds and manages public housing for most of Singapore’s 5.6 million people.
When Singapore became independent in 1965, we were a city filled with slums, choked with congestion, where rivers became open sewers, and we were struggling to find decent jobs for our people. We had limited land and no natural resources. In the short span of 50 years, we have built a clean, modern metropolis with a diversified economy and reliable infrastructure. Our public housing program has transformed us from a nation of squatters to a nation of homeowners: More than 90 percent of our people own their homes, one of the highest home-ownership rates in the world. – Cheong
Opportunity, Variety, and Convenience
- More jobs result from the synergy of having so many talented people come together.
- Proximity to shops, schools, entertainment, healthcare, and the outdoors.
- Affordable public rail networks reduce traffic congestion.
- Livable density also means that parks and recreation facilities have been prioritised developments of the city.
- Innovative design can reduce that feeling of density by creating the illusion of space using “green” and “blue” elements.
- We intersperse parks, rivers, and ponds amid our high-rises. These bodies of water also double as flood-control mechanisms.
- Lush density of plants and trees—some 3 million trees cover Singapore, including a stand of virgin rainforest, rich in biodiversity, right in the heart of the island.
They are also connecting our many parks into a network. Some hill parks are linked by iconic bridges, another example of how we create the illusion of space. As this park connector expands, Singaporeans will have access to a few hundred kilometres of cycling and walking trails throughout the island—they’ve already spawned a new cycling culture.
At its essence, livable density is about creating quality of life despite that density. – Cheong
Within the public housing estates, Singaporeans build homes, start families, and form strong bonds with their neighbours. Community spaces and town plazas have been consciously built to create those gathering places, including “three-generation playgrounds” and fitness areas to encourage interaction between residents of different ages.