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FuturArc Monthly News Roundup

April 2015 News Roundup

Green building developments in the region

Australia: Prepares for largest rooftop solar installation
Stockland will install a 1.22-megawatt solar system on its Shellharbour Shopping Centre in New South Wales—the largest rooftop solar installation to occur in Australia thus far, and a sign that the economics now stack up for commercial solar in the property sector.

It comprises 3,991 panels at a cost of over US$2 million and is estimated to generate on average 4,789 kilowatt hours a day or 28 percent of the centre’s base building requirements. The space of installation is 7,568 square metres, around the size of a football field.

The system, which is expected to be switched on by the end of May, is part of a suite of sustainability upgrades at the 4 Star Green Star centre financed by Stockland’s recent Green bond. i 

Australia: Sydney aims to target apartment sustainability

As part of its plan to cut apartment-sector emissions by 40 percent by 2030, Sydney hopes to implement some strategies such as increased Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) targets and mandatory disclosure of energy performance for apartment buildings.

The draft plan, which would also see water use cut by 7 percent by 2030 and 70 percent of waste diverted from landfill within six years, was tabled at a council meeting on 27 April. However, the most effective reduction strategies—increased BASIX targets for new buildings (beyond that proposed in a recent review) and the introduction of a mandatory performance benchmark rating system similar to National Australian Build Environment Rating System (NABERS) to cover new and existing buildings—would require state government support.

“With an increasing number of residents now living in apartments, it’s vital we strive to make apartment blocks as environmentally efficient as possible. This plan sets out a range of actions for new and existing apartment blocks that could help significantly reduce emissions, save water and keep waste out of landfill,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

The report said that 20,000 dwellings were set to be built in the area over the next eight years, 90 percent of which would be in high-rises.

This dwelling type was more carbon intensive than detached, low-rise and mid-rise housing because of “the large energy consumption by centralised equipment systems on the common property of high-rise developments, which increases with building height”.

The plan to increase apartment sustainability builds on the Smart Green Apartments pilot, in which environmental assessments and support were offered to apartment owners to help improve environmental performance. ii

Denmark: Steps up Singapore ties on sustainable ideals

After 50 years of close diplomatic ties, Denmark and Singapore are stepping up their collaboration across a range of industries—from shipping to urban transport and smart city technologies.

Danish ambassador to Singapore, Berit Basse, said Denmark and Singapore have benefitted from one another’s experience and skills through bilateral visits, professional exchanges and collaboration on projects in the past five decades.

These have included the setting up in Singapore of a Water & Environment Research Centre and Education Hub between Danish water company DHI and Nanyang Technological University in 2007.

In 2014, the Danish Water Technology House was established. It serves as a centre of information and marketing of Danish water technology for Southeast Asia.

Ambassador Basse also said Denmark is looking at expanding to new areas of collaboration with Singapore in the next 50 years.

One of these initiatives are electricity saving smart grids. Launched in 2013 in Denmark by the local government, the smart grid combines electricity metres read on an hourly basis with variable tariffs and a data hub, enabling consumers to use the power when it is least expensive. iii

Global: Earth Day marks its 45th year

Photo of the Earth by Reuters/NASA

Earth Day, dubbed by many as the world’s largest civic event, is marked on 22 April every year and celebrates the global environmental movement. This year, to commemorate the Day’s 45th anniversary, its organisers from Earth Day Network have chosen the theme “It’s our turn to lead”.

Organisers at Earth Day Network believe this could be the most exciting year in the history of the environmental movement. They call it “the year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands” on their website.

The group is urging people to participate in numerous climate action campaigns, including getting 2 billion “Acts of Green” pledges by December, just in time for the Conference of Parties climate change meeting in Paris.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke to more than 200,000 Americans on Global Citizen Earth Day, noted in his message on the UN website: “The big decisions that lie ahead are not just for world leaders and policy-makers. Today, on Mother Earth Day, I ask each one of us to be mindful of the impacts our choices have on this planet, and what those impacts will mean for future generations.” iv

Global: World Green Building Council appoints new CEO

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has announced the appointment of Terri Wills as its new Chief Executive Officer on 9 April. Wills will lead WorldGBC’s initiatives to support its members, promote collaboration and innovation, and play an advocacy and policy role to accelerate global change.

Wills will join the WorldGBC from her current role as Director of Global Initiatives with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. During her time with C40, she has overseen the restructure of the Clinton Climate Initiative cities technical assistance programme, and spearheaded the development, fundraising and implementation of the network strategy. Under her leadership, C40’s networks have had a direct impact on policy in more than half of C40 member cities.

“We’re delighted to welcome Terri as our new CEO,” said WorldGBC Chairman, Bruce Kerswill. “The Green building movement is growing apace—we have GBCs in 100 countries across the globe and the WorldGBC continues to grow in size and influence. Terri’s experience and drive will take us to the next level, boosting the services we offer our members, increasing our global impact, and driving the change to sustainability in built environments globally.”

Wills’ previous experiences includes serving as the London City Director for the Clinton Climate Initiative, working with the London Mayor’s Office to scale up the award-winning RE:FIT retrofit programme and laying the groundwork for the city’s Building Energy Challenge.v

India: First smart city as urban population swells

India's push to accommodate a booming urban population and attract investment rests in large part with dozens of smart cities like the one being built on the dusty banks of the Sabarmati river in western India. The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) so far boasts of modern underground infrastructure and two office blocks.

The plan, however, is for a meticulously planned metropolis complete with gleaming towers, drinking water on tap, automated waste collection and a dedicated power supply—luxuries to many Indians.

With an urban population set to rise by more than 400 million people to 814 million by 2050, India faces the kind of mass urbanisation only seen before in China, and many of its biggest cities are already bursting at the seams.

Ahead of his election last May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised 100 so-called smart cities by 2022 to help meet the rush.

At a cost of about US$1 trillion, according to estimates from consultants KPMG, the plan is also crucial to Modi's ambition of attracting investment while providing jobs for the million or more Indians who join the workforce every month.

This grand scheme is beginning to take shape outside Gandhinagar, capital of the state of Gujarat, with the first smart city the government hopes will provide a model for India's urban future.vi

Indonesia: Jakarta to convert 159 land plots into greenery

The Jakarta administration has targeted to convert 159 plots of land into green areas this year, the city’s Parks and Cemetery Agency head said on 27 April.

Most of the land plots to be converted into green areas were in East Jakarta, said agency head Nandar Sunandar, adding that East Jakarta covered some 28 percent of the Jakarta area.

Nandar said that the administration would scrutinise the legal aspects of the plan during the land acquisition process, to make sure that the land used was not involved in legal disputes.

"The budget [for the land acquisition] this year is Rp 2.3 trillion [US$177 million], a decrease from Rp 3.1 trillion last year. That is the reason why we will make adjustments in the process," he said. vii

Malaysia: Nusajaya ramps up smart city ambitions

Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) has signed a series of agreements with Nusajaya Tech Park Sdn Berhad (NTPSB) to set up a host of information and communications technology (ICT) services in the Johor-based technology park as part of an ambitious plan to create a smart city hub in Southeast Asia.

The Kuala Lumpur-based telecoms firm plans to build data centres and provide cloud computing and smart services in the technology park located in Johor Bahru state in southern Malaysia, near the border with Singapore, it said in a joint announcement with NTPSB last month.

NTPSB is a joint development of Singapore-based industrial parks developer Ascendas Group and Malaysian property giant UEM Sunrise.

To be built in phases over nine years, the 210-hectare industrial park will open by year-end its first batch of offices, which will be equipped with high-speed telecoms facilities for businesses looking to locate in Southeast Asia, the firms stated.

The project received a Merit Award in the Master Planning Category from the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects in 2013, as well as a certification rating of ‘Green Mark for Districts – Gold (Provisional)’ in 2014 from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority, William Tay, chief executive officer of Ascendas Southeast Asia, said. viii

Singapore: Partners with Sri Lanka on urban planning and governance programme

The Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE), Temasek Foundation (TF), Singapore and the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), together with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage (MoUDWSD) announced on 6 April their first partnership on an urban planning and governance capacity building programme in Sri Lanka. The two-year programme is supported by Temasek Foundation with a grant of S$430,068.

At a ceremony held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a collaboration document was signed between Karunasena Hettiarachchi, secretary, MoUDWSD, government of Sri Lanka and Kong Wy Mun, chief executive officer of Singapore Cooperation Enterprise. The event was graced by the honourable minister of MoUDWSD, Rauf Hakeem. It was also witnessed by Rohan Seneviratne, project director (Metro Colombo Urban Development Project), MoUDWSD; Benedict Cheong, chief executive officer of Temasek Foundation; and Julian Goh, director for capability development, at the Centre for Liveable Cities.

The development and management of infrastructure is a vital step towards sustainable living, and the Sri Lanka government has placed high priority on the redevelopment of its urban infrastructure in the capital city of Colombo as well as surrounding Galle and Kandy cities. It is in this context that MoUDWSD approached SCE to share Singapore’s lessons, experiences and best practices in urban development from a whole-of-government perspective. ix

Vietnam: Still waiting for indoor air standards

Tens of people unexpectedly fainted at Big C supermarket at The Garden in Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to the environmental monitoring experts, it was caused by poor indoor air quality.

Ngo Quoc Khanh, from the Scientific Research Institute of Labor Protection, said the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that indoor air pollution has contributed to 50 percent of diseases affecting humans.

The most common indoor pollutants (in office and houses) are mould, bacteria, dust, volatile organic compounds and microorganisms. The pollutants come from many sources such as cigarette smoke, firewood stoves, gas stoves, household items and cleaners.

Dr Nguyen Huy Nga from the Ministry of Health noted that indoor air pollution is the culprit behind many diseases. In some cases, exposure to several kinds of toxic chemicals for a long time may cause cancer.

A research team from the Scientific Research Institute of Labor Protection recently conducted a survey on six offices located in four buildings in the inner city of Hanoi, which were built in 2008 with central ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

They found that formaldehyde, ozone and dust concentrations were all very high. Particularly, the microbiological criteria went far beyond the recommended levels. This was attributed to air recirculation from ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

However, since there are no standards for indoor air in the country, the assessment of air quality continues to challenge scientists and management bodies. The Ministry of Health worked on the standards in 2013, but the Prime Minister’s Decision No 25 released in 2014 said this was a task of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. x

Text by Karen Baja Dungalen

i. http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/energy/stockland-to-install-australias-largest-rooftop-solar-system/72868

ii. http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/property/residential-2/sydney-moves-to-target-apartment-sustainability/73505

iii. http://www.eco-business.com/news/denmark-singapore-ties-forged-on-sustainable-ideals/

iv. http://www.eco-business.com/news/towards-sustainability-45-years-of-earth-day/

v. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/14/us-india-cities-smart-idUSKBN0N52HX20150414

vi. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/04/27/jakarta-convert-159-plots-land-green-areas.html

vii. http://www.eco-business.com/news/malaysias-nusajaya-ramps-up-smart-city-ambitions/

viii. http://www.temasekfoundation.org.sg/news-media/news-releases/details/singapore-to-partner-the-government-of-sri-lanka-to-develop-capability-in-urban-planning-and-governance

ix. http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/128731/vietnam-too-slow-in-setting-indoor-air-standards.html

x. http://www.worldgbc.org/activities/news/global-news/worldgbc-appoints-new-ceo/





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